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5 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Life

One of my new goals in life and on the blog is to be more mindful about waste. It galls me to think of how much stuff we run through over the course of a year. There’s just so much junk, and it’s starting to weigh me down. So I thought I would share five pretty simple ways that I cut down on waste in my own life. I’m not quite to the point where I’m creating diesel fuel out of veggie oil ;) I know it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that one person can’t make a difference, but if we make mindful changes in our daily lives, it will make a very large impact over the course of our lifetimes! Here are my quick tips on what we can do to help be more conservative with our resources:

Ever notice how restaurant portions keep getting larger and larger? Not only is it bad for your waistline (and health!) it’s pretty wasteful. I saw a blurb on the news that Americans throw away roughly 40% of their food sources. FORTY PERCENT! The clip stressed eating more leftovers, but I’m not a huge leftover fan. My fix? Ordering off the a la carte menu or sharing a plate. There’s no way I can manage a full entree, two sides, and potential chips and salsa. It’s so easy to pick out two tacos  or a few chicken strips over the plate with 6 strips, fries and a corn cob. It’s easier on the pocketbook as well as reducing uneaten waste.

We used to be a water bottle household, and would run through a case a week. That’s a lot of bottles to toss. I’m a picky water drinker and don’t like tap water. I know, high maintenance right? So we picked up a water filter and a few metal bottles that I now cycle out with clean, tasty water. So many less plastic bottles! Plus the metal helps keep it cool when I go work out or take a road trip. I really urge you to pick up a couple and try to reduce the amount of bottles that cycle through your refrigerator. It’s such an easy change that has a massive impact.

The hubs recently purged his t-shirt collection without telling me, and tossed them all in the trash. Seriously hubs? Do you have any idea who you’re married to?! Even if your shirts are too threadbare or stained to donate, there’s a dozen different things to do with them. Make an easy quilt, or some headbands, a memory game, or 8,000 different ideas found on Pinterest. I’ve seen reusable produce bags, tshirt yarn woven into blankets or placemats, and baby onesies. Fabric is one of the easiest things to repurpose well, so please don’t just toss it out!

I find myself torn whenever I see great stuff by the curb. On one hand, it’s a fab freebie find. On the other, it’s utterly wasteful if nobody picks it up and you toss perfectly good stuff into the landfill. If you find yourself wanting to replace your threadbare couch or tired old chairs, please consider donation. There are tons of folks out there looking to give these pieces a new life, or need decent, affordable furniture for their homes. But if you don’t have time or means to transport and the local donation service doesn’t pick up (a lot do, so it’s worth it to call your local Habitat ReStore or Goodwill) there are a lot of places to list unwanted items for free. Facebook is a great place for groups (my local one is called FREE Recycle and Reuse Items – Brazoria County) or there’s Freecycle.org and Craigslist. If you don’t like the idea of meeting with strangers, you can place your item in the yard somewhere that it won’t be picked up by trash collectors and write that you’ll remove the ad once its gone. Really, it takes such a small amount of extra effort that it really is worth it to keep our landfills lower.

One of the biggest wasters is gift wrap. Think about it. How often do you keep all your cards from weddings, birthdays or holidays? Does your wrapping paper always end up in the trash? Well, mine does too. While I try to save most of my gift bags to reuse, it’s a bit of a pain to store them. So, I get creative. I use newspaper instead of tissue paper. Plastic shopping bags make great bag filler. The roll of butcher paper leftover from my wedding is my go-to gift wrap. Or you could use a scrap of pretty fabric and ribbon and recycle it for future presents! So many options. And when you think of all the gifts you give over the course of a year, just imagine how much paper and ribbon you’ll keep out of the dump!

 

That’s my list! Any of them something you’d like to try out? What are your favorite tips to limiting waste? Do you swear by canvas grocery totes? Recycle diligently? Share it with us!

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4 comments

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  1. Amber Thornton

    As a mom of 3 with the oldest being in grade school and the youngest in diapers I have found lots of ways to reuse/reduce in our house. #1 – we cloth diaper. Seeing the pictures of diapers in landfills was enough to convince me. Plus human waste is a hazard in landfills. #2 – we reuse the plastic shopping bags as our trash bags. I don’t buy trash bags (unless I need the really large yard ones for something.

    As a parent with kids in school though I am saddened by the amount of paper used … worksheets, notes home, classwork, homework … it is overwhelming. Our schools need to do something to reduce the amount of paper used.

    1. I’m really looking into cloth diapering if we decide to have a second child. It may be more work, but it does have a huge impact! Love the idea of using shopping bags as trash bags. And you’re so right. It’s awful how much is wasted in materials in schools. Hopefully with technology coming so far we will start moving toward tablets and such for writing practice. I remember in college we had Blackboard, a site professors and students used for notes and submitting papers and homework. That would be so helpful for middle and high schools to reduce the amount of materials they use.

  2. Allie

    I’m pretty much a rabid recycler, and it drives me CRAZY that our city is so picky about the items they allow — cereal-box cardboard isn’t allowed?!?! And I always try to get paper grocery bags, but we can’t recycle those either!! BAH.

  3. loveandrenovations

    Those are great tips! I’m very big on donating/recycling things before tossing them out, as much as possible!

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