If you are like so many of us, it is important to you to preserve our world for future generations. Unfortunately, today’s way of life creates a lot of trash.
While you already recycle, there are several other things you can do to help reduce waste. The following are a few examples of how you can get started living a zero waste lifestyle. These small changes are easy to do, but they can make a huge impact on the amount of garbage going into our landfills daily.
Avoid Plastic Packaging
Think about how many times a day you reach for a plastic bag. Your leftovers may be going into plastic gallon bags, while your lunch uses many sandwich-size plastic bags. Switch to glass or stainless steel containers instead. You can even skip bottled water and take advantage of glass or metal bottles that can be refilled. All of these reusable containers can be found in a variety of sizes and shapes.
Ditch the Paper Products
Paper towels and napkins are convenient to use, but they add greatly to your waste. Swap them out for cloth versions that can be washed and used again.
Simply keep a basket of cloth rags nearby, and teach yourself to reach for them instead of the paper towels. Take it one step further by repurposing old bath towels. Cut them into smaller sizes to add to your rag basket.
Don’t worry. You can still use convenient items for parties. Simply trade your traditional paper plates, cups, and bowls for eco-friendly options. These are made from recycled materials and avoid using potentially toxic styrofoam.
Reduce Food Waste
Repurpose leftovers to reduce food waste. Save those bits of food leftover after each meal and tuck them into the freezer for future meals. They can be turned into something new and delicious. Leftover vegetables and meat scraps can be put in the crockpot with broth to make a wonderful soup or used to create a delightful stir-fry. Old bread can be dried and used for croutons or stuffing, and all of those small amounts of pasta can be reheated together and served with sauce for an amazing pasta mix.
Take Advantage of Composting
It is a shame to throw food scraps away when they can be used to create nutrient-rich soil. You can get your own outdoor compost container or simply start a compost pile. If you live in the city, contact a municipal compost center that will accept your scraps.
Keep a small bin on your countertop where you can place scraps as you cook. When the bin is full, add it to your compost pile or bag it up for the compost center to pick up. Common items that can be composted include fruit,
vegetables, coffee grounds, and eggshells.
Donate Used Cooking Oil
Donating your used cooking oil solves the problem of where to put it when you’re done cooking. You don’t want to dump that oil down your drain. It can solidify as it cools and creates a serious clog. You also don’t want to add
this oil to your compost pile. Instead, by donating oil, it can be used to make biodiesel fuel.
Keep a container on hand that can be designated for used cooking oil. When the container is full, you can take it to a drop-off center where they will repurpose it. You can do a quick online search for locations in your area that will accept used cooking oil for recycling.
Eliminate Plastic Shopping Bags
Think about how many plastic bags you bring home each time you shop for groceries. If you are putting these into the trash, you are not alone. Unfortunately, these bags are adding to our landfills. You can return them to the store for
recycling, or you can use your own bags.
Large shopping bags made from canvas, mesh, or cloth can be purchased at most natural grocery stores for a very affordable price. Look for ones that can be washed. Take them with you each time you go shopping, and ask the store to use them instead of the plastic bags for your purchases.
Avoid Single-Serve Items
Most of what you buy comes in some type of packaging. Choosing larger sizes of your favorite products or buying in bulk can help reduce waste. Rather than buying ten small bags of rice, get one large bag. This simple act will reduce
your waste from ten bags to only one.
Once you get these items home, you can separate them into smaller, easier-to-use containers. Mason jars are perfect for granola, rice, oatmeal, grains, and beans. Airtight plastic dishes that can be washed and reused will keep food fresh as well.
Swap Out Household Products
Many household products create waste. If you have special cleaners for each individual item in your home, you have many plastic bottles that are going to find their way into the landfill eventually. Switch to a multipurpose cleaner
instead. There are many commercially available options, or you can make your own from things you already have on hand. Several recipes can be found online.
Trade-in your plastic straws for paper ones that are more environmentally friendly. You can also look for things like a sustainable toothbrush. These zero waste toothbrushes are created with biodegradable materials.
Pack Your Lunch
You hear people recommending that you pack your lunch for work in order to save money, but it also saves on waste. Food and packaging waste makes up roughly 45% of landfill materials in the United States. Skip the fast food and bring a lunch from home in a reusable lunch box. Be sure to bring along your own containers, dishes, and utensils that you can wash and use again.
Making these simple changes in your daily life will help save our world for future generations to enjoy.
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