Waste is easy to generate in American society, but it takes up space, contributes to harmful pollution, destroys ecosystems, and creates greenhouse gas emissions. What can we do to minimize our waste? Here are 9 simple tips.
- Lauren Singer, a zero waste activist in New York City, recommends you begin by evaluating your current waste production and your motivation for minimizing waste. Ask yourself, “What do I use every day and what have I not touched in months?” This will help you see the easiest places you can begin to decrease your waste.
- Before you buy something, take a moment to consider if you need to buy a new one. For example, if you need a new shirt it may be worth a trip to your local second-hand store.
- When buying new items, choose products that are more sturdy and long-lasting. Do a little research and discover what you can about the company’s business practices and environmental impact.
- Choose reusable items. When shopping, do your best to use canvas bags. Choose travel mugs instead of to-go cups. Bring glass containers for leftovers when you go out to eat (instead of using plastic takeout containers). Keep a pair of chopsticks with you to avoid disposable cutlery.
- Buy in bulk to reduce packaging, especially for common household products. Try to avoid plastic packaging (it accounts for nearly 30% of solid waste).
- Compost your organic material. This helps streamline waste management, and can improve the soil in your garden.
- Instead of recycling junk mail, opt out of receiving it.
- Shop at farmers markets and stores where you can buy fruits and veggies without packaging and stickers, and where you can reuse cartons or bags.
- Learn from others. Start with Bea Johnson’s list of 100 tips to reduce waste in your home and explore the many online resources available.
© 2016 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies