How to reduce waste?

Hello there! Following my previous post on Marie Kondo and the KonMari Method, I thought it would be appropriate to write on ways to reduce our waste, in other words, the zero-waste movement. Have you noticed how much trash and recycling you produce in a year? The answer varies greatly between household but the average American produces about 1,600 pounds (726 kg) of trash every year (1). Can you believe it? Did you know, only 50% of your recycling is actually recycled? (2) There is already so much out there, yet we waste so much every year while people, less fortunate, really need it. Today is not about shaming you about your trash but to teach you simple little changes to help you produce less trash, use everything you have to the fullest and save some money. Yes, yes, I did dare say the M word. As you probably have read across the web, there are 5 “R” of sustainability: Rot, recycle, reuse, repurpose, and reduce. So let’s look over them and see how you can apply them every day.

Composting

This process allows using of some of the house waste for the garden. It is possible to compost food, yard waste and some paper (can also be recycled). This is a great solution if you have a garden or if your city offers a compost program. To create your own compost takes a lot of constant work and attention. Here is an idea on how to start your own compost at home (link). There is also an entire site dedicated to composting (link).

Recycling

I think everyone has heard of this by now but you can recycle cans, paper, cardboard, and plastics. The issue is to make sure to do it properly and consult your city recycle centre’s site to confirm how to recycle electronics, batteries, construction waste and more. Some cities have recycled centres you can go to donate your waste items and they will recycle it for you. Here is a useful tool for a few things you can recycle (waste management).

Reusing

Pinterest is full of DIY ideas to reuse what you already have in your house like coffee tins, car tires, cereal boxes, etc. I highly encourage you to research what you are looking to get rid of and see what else it can be used at. I was surprised to use cereal boxes for organizing.

Repurposing

Once again, Pinterest is a great resource of ideas to repurpose things, e.g. a plant holder, an old pair of jeans, an old t-shirt, etc.

Reducing

This has probably the biggest impact on our waste because if we don’t buy we don’t waste. Simple enough right? Well, it is a change in your lifestyle and like any changes, it requires time and hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight otherwise, everyone would do it easily. In other words, you need to buy less of everything (food, plastic, clothing, etc.) and make sure to use what you already have on hand or in your home.

Food waste

This is a whole issue in itself but I really wanted to mention it because of all the food we produce about 50% is wasted every year (this is across all of the earth’s countries). People go hungry and yet families overspend on food (money and quantity) which ends up in the trash uneaten. The whole concept of waste upsets me but food waste even more. Here are some tips to help you limit your food waste (see Fun Cheap or Free website for great ideas):

  1. Meal plan for your week (breakfast ideas, lunches and dinners);
  2. Inventory what you have in your cabinets, fridge and freezer to create meals using items that might go bad soon;
  3. Shelf-cook at least one week every few months;
  4. Consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables over fresh if they end up in the trash often;
  5. Can or freeze your food – you can use canning for your own tomato sauce, apple sauce, diced tomatoes, soup or you can freeze most leftovers but keep a list to know what you already have;
  6. While grocery shopping, only buy what you need for the week or things you can stock up while on sale; and
  7. Consider eating less meat – there are many health benefits, it is saving you money and you lower the need for grain production as well as CO2 that are implicated in the production of meat. (I will speak more about this in a future post)

Here is also a list of things you can do to limit your food waste (link).

To conclude, waste, in general, is a social issue and we need to work towards reducing it and creative ways to use what we have. I will be honest, I am not perfect nor zero-waste but I am inspired by people’s zero-waste lifestyle and make slow but continuous changes to my life to reduce waste. I hope this gave you some ideas to change some of your habits and help the environment and society, use what you have while saving some money and the planet. As always, I thank you for visiting the blog and hope you will subscribe and follow me on social media. In the meantime, I hope to see you back here as I post new content every week. I wish you a very nice week!

(1) Wisegeek
(2) Waste Management 

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