I recently began to take a hard look at the waste my household makes each week. I previously thought we were doing good- I have a compost bin the backyard and a recycling bin in the kitchen. But for four people (two of which are under the age of 5), we seem to make a lot of trash. I started a June challenge for myself, which you can read about here. The idea of actually reducing waste can be overwhelming but here are 5 effortless ways ways you can cut waste now.
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5 Effortless Ways to Cut Waste Now
1. Reusable Shopping Bags. This one is easy for me, as NJ banned plastic shopping bags some time ago. I always carry reusable bags everywhere. Even if a store, like in the mall, provides a bag, I like to use my own. My bags are large, can hold a lot and have great straps to hold on your shoulder.
Stop using plastic bags (or really any single use bag) from stores and bring your own. Keep these bags handy at all times. I have about 10 I keep in my car trunk and one that I keep folded up in my purse. That way I always have a bag handy to use. Remembering the bags is probably the hardest part- that it what I hear people complain the most about using reusable bags. So keep the bags handy at all time.
2. Reuse Items. In June I really worked to declutter my home. I was shocked by the things I found (ie- why did I keep every instruction book for every humidifier and vacuum I have ever owned). I did find a lot of things I could reuse and repurpose. So many things can be used for kid crafts or activities to keep my kids busy. For example, old instruction books can be colored on- my kids thought it was great to color on something they normally would not be allowed to draw on. This is an example that is good if you have kids, but you get the point- reuse what you have in whatever way you can.
Decluttering lead me to find a lot of items I did not recall having in my house and that I am now using again or using in a new way. I found wool dryer balls I bought year ago and lost throughout my house. Well I have been using all month and have not used a single dryer sheet all month. A small change that resulted in a lot less waste (I do a LOT of laundry with 2 small kids!).
3. Compost. I have had a compost bin in my backyard for years. I started as a way to make amazing compost for my garden, which you can read about here. But now I realize how much I can- and now do- throw in to the compost bin.
This also an activity for my kids- figuring out what can go in the compost bin- Cocomelon even has a compost song (click here for the YouTube video of the song). If you collect just food scraps through the day on your counter- I guarantee you will be shocked by how much waste you make that can go in the compost bin.
4. Avoid Single-Use Plastics. This is a tough one- especially with young kids- single use plastic is so easy and convienent. I am making a conscious effort to change these habits. Rather than brining snacks for my kids in plastic sandwich bags, I am using our reusable plastic bowls (Amazon Link here). These bowls are the perfect size for snacks on the go. Another item I have recently realized I use a ton of (probably literally) is plastic wrap.
I am trying to avoid other single use items- like dryer sheets. I have replaced dryer sheets with wool dryer balls. Check out the dryer balls I have used here. I have been using these balls consistently for a month- and have not used a single dryer sheet since! It is a small change that actually reduces a lot of waste. (Speaking of laundry- I throw all the lint from the lint trap into my compost bin! I have read conflicting thoughts about composting lint, but I am in favor of composting)
5. Take a look at your trash. Collect your trash for one day on your counter- really. And take a look at what you are collecting. I did just this and was shocked at how many napkins, paper towels and plastic wrap pieces I went through in a day. You may be shocked at how much waste you make- and all the items you could have done without. Again, for me, the amount of plastic wrap was shocking. My kids will take a bit of a granola bar- and then want to save it for later. My gut instinct is to grab some plastic wrap and wrap it up. I felt like I was doing good before I was not wasting food- but I was creating a ton more waste with all the plastic wrap.
5 Effortless Ways to Cut Waste
I have learned from my June challenge that small changes can add up in reducing a lot of waste for your house. Start making small changes today and see the big reduction of waste soon.
Do you have any simple tricks to reducing your household waste?
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