Mondays are our trash day and as we were taking our recycling bins to the curb I realized how our trash fluctuates in amount from week to week. There have been weeks were we have an overloaded trash bin while on other weeks we barely fill it. This got me thinking, what can I do get to the point where my trash has to be picked up once a month?
Where to start?
Right after your trash has been picked up, keep track of everything your waste. What does every member in your household throws away? What can be reused? What can be recycled? What can be repaired? What can be donated?
Now that you know what is thrown away at your house, start by to switch to a smaller garbage can or go from a weekly pick-up to an every other week pick-up (this is what we’ve done). You will soon see a change in your family’s waste because, well, who wants an overflowed stinky trash can in their house?
By switching pick-up dates you will also be saving money! It is way cheaper this way, and if you can, go for a monthly pick-up! This will save you even more money!
These are a few ideas to help you reduce waste at home:
Compost. Anything edible is compostable. Instead of throwing food waste to the trash or down the trash compactor, aka garburator in Canada, compost it. Washington has just started the pick up of food so it can be composted. Check if your state or city do this as well. And if you are a do-it-yourself-er check Survival Charter for tips on how to make your own compost. It is super easy!
Cook less. By this I am not inviting you to go eat out or buy fast food but simply to cook the right amount of food that you need. Learn to cook for one, for two, for all. If you have leftovers take them to work for lunch, have a leftover day. Try not to throw away any food.
Grow your own food. If you have space, grow your own vegetables, herbs and spices! Be creative, use a windowsill to grow your herbs and spices they really don’t need that much space. A little goes a long way. By growing your own food you decrease the amount of plastic containers, plastic bags, etc that is thrown away.
Grocery shopping. Carry reusable bags with you. They are sturdier, can hold more than a plastic bag, and are washable! And they are inexpensive.
Refill and reuse. Instead of throwing away your bottles, refill them. Use spray bottles to water your plants or for your kids’ crafts. Detergent bottles, after well washed, can be used as plant pots. Be creative.
Batteries. Buy rechargeable batteries. Normal batteries are toxic. Plus, by buying rechargeable batteries, you are saving money as well!
Salvage and repurpose. There aare so many things that can be salvaged and reused: yogurt containers as pencil holders or plant pots; egg cartons for separating craft supplies or for a craft in itself; furniture can be fixed and given a new purpose. Be creative.
Water. Drink from the tap or filtered water. Avoid bottled water (which is almost always tap water anyways).
Styrofoam. AVOID IT AT ALL COST! It is non-recyclable and non-decomposable. Styrofoam will survive the apocalypse along with cockroaches!
Paper towels. Don’t leave at arms reach and use only when needed (like when making bacon). Instead use cotton cloths to clean your counter tops.
DIY. Make your own cleaning rags from worn-out clothes or fabric scraps. My mom always did this and they lasted longer than your regular kitchen rag.
Cleaning supplies. Buy concentrated cleaners to reduce packaging waste.
Junk mail. And all mail for that matter if printed on only one side use the back side for your shopping list.
Boxes. These can be used for so many things! They can be used for storage, as play toys for your kids, as art canvases for children.
Reducing waste at home is simple and it could even be fun! Have your kids help you with the garden, or come up with new ideas for reusing things either for crafts or simply fun. Make reducing waste a fun family affair rather than a chore. Before long you’ll find a pattern and your waste will be reduced helping not only the world but your wallet as well!
What else would be a great idea to reduce waste at home? Do you do any of these at home already?