5 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Lifestyle
My little family is moving downtown again- and I couldn’t be more excited!! We spent all of 2018 in a less-than-ideal roommate situation, and the living arrangements made it nearly impossible to keep up some of our lifestyle practices from when we lived on our own. A major change was how much waste we produced!
We’ve done our best to be conscious of how much we consume, and before moving in with a roommate we were approaching zero waste! Now that I’ll be able to do it again- I’m going to share some of my tips with you. These are changes we’ll be making (again!) now that we’re going to be back on our own feet and in our own space- woohoo!
Reducing your waste doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Take baby steps, and do what makes sense for your household. Give things a try, you can always go back if it doesn’t work.
1 | Buy fresh foods
Reduce waste AND improve your diet by purchasing more fresh produce and less packaged goods. When you must buy something packaged, like mass quantities of frozen fruit (anyone else?), buy it in larger bags. These tend to be cheaper per ounce and you’ll make fewer trips to the store, which helps you buy fewer things in general.
2 | Buy in BULK!
So depending on how much you buy, this tip can be hit and miss, but for the most part it saves a lot! This is especially true for herbs and spices, baking goods like flour and sugar, and especially with loose-leaf teas in my house. When you buy in bulk, it takes less packaging.
Don’t be fooled, there’s still some waste involved, but it’s significantly less waste when you think about the store receiving 50+ pound bags, pouring them into bulk bins, and people using their own containers to take it home. It’s an improvement and every little bit helps.
You can buy in bulk online as well- so while shipping does include some waste, if you’re going to order it anyway you may as well get it in bulk and save on the packaging!
3 | Shop locally when it makes sense.
This tip is simple- if you’re buying it locally from the source, it doesn’t have to go through packaging and shipping. Sometimes, you can request zero packaging or things just won’t be packaged in the first place. In my area, local business owners are also more conscious of the environment and are more likely to use cardboard and other compostable packaging, which is a plus!
4 | Buy higher quality products and learn to fix them!
We live in a very disposable world and I’ve noticed that more often than not, it’s actually less wasteful AND more cost-efficient to just toss an old broken thing and buy a new one… but if you purchase higher quality products, this trend changes. I know how hard it can be to purchase quality home goods on a tight budget- but I also think it’s worth it in the end when you can bite the bullet and pay more up front. You save in the end because instead of needing 5 of something over the course of 2 years, you only need the ONE for, like, 10 years!
It’s also so rewarding maintaining your things and showing appreciation for what you have in life by keeping it in good condition. This step brings a sense of pride for your lifestyle and for your own quality of life, which is something I really don’t think can be bought but is so necessary in life.
5 | Use a smaller trash can
This is a silly tip, but it really works! When we first started trying to produce less waste, I SWEAR we bought less stuff, but the trash filled up just as quickly as ever. I was so confused! Finally, I decided we were ONLY allowed to take the trash out once per week for an entire month, so if it was overflowing we just needed to deal with it. This was amazing because it forced us to see exactly where our waste was coming from. SO much of it was stuff I never thought about, like packaging from things we ordered online, soooo many juice containers (our area has TERRIBLE recycling options- like none), and plastic containers from berries and tomatoes.
Once we had to actually spend some time with our trash, we started to understand where it was all coming from and were able to more consciously make changes to reduce our waste.
I hope this has been helpful! The most important tip I’d share for reducing your waste is just to take it slow. Be patient with yourself, and if you’re really struggling after a couple weeks, definitely try out tip #5 and consider even keeping a log of where your trash is coming from over the course of a couple weeks. Once you really notice where the “leak” is coming from, you’ll be better equip to fix it!