Today is Earth Day! And what better way to celebrate Earth Day than to take a look at some of the simple and easy ways we can reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep our planet looking and feeling her best?!
About 2 years ago I really took an interest in what I could do to reduce waste. I saw the video of the straw being pulled from that poor sea turtle’s nose and decided that was it, I REFUSE be a part of this plastic problem that has been plaguing our planet. I started with some small changes and have found that it really isn’t that difficult to make just a few switches and swaps to greatly reduce the amount of plastic and waste I was sending to the landfills.
These are just a couple small changes you can make right now without too much inconvenience. There are loads of other ways to reduce your waste and I’m working on trying to do even more! At the end of this list, I have provided a few extra ideas that will reduce your waste even more and I encourage you to explore these options for your lifestyle!
Here you go, 5 ways to reduce your waste right now.
Seems simple and if you are a millennial this hopefully is something that comes naturally to you because we were raised with it all around us. However, it does make a huge impact–IF you recycle properly. Most people don’t know this, but you can easily ruin an entire receptacle of recyclables if you contaminate it. If you have recycling service to your house check out your city’s website, there should be a guide to recycling there. If you don’t have recycling service to your house search online for a recycling location near you. You can use a metal trash can or a reusable grocery bag to collect recyclables during the week and then drop off when it’s full. It’s important not to bag your recyclables, as plastic garbage bags are not recyclable. Below is a great video from video from Waste Management with tips on how to recycle right.
This has been one of the easiest and one of the most impactful changes to our household. I now keep a handful of reusable grocery bags under the seat in my truck. I use one big one to store them all in and then fold it up and tuck it under the seat. This has made such a big difference in more than one way. The first is that it reduced how many plastic grocery bags are in our trash. I couldn’t believe how many we were going through. I used to keep them to use for misc. things (like picking up dog poop) and we were bringing home so many that I couldn’t store them all and was just starting to throw them into the trash. The other big perk to using reusable bags is that you can carry way more in each one. This makes loading and unloading them SOOO much easier! I would suggest picking bags that are pretty well made so that the handles don’t break (then you just end up putting something else into the trash) and you can load them up with more weight! I also bought some netted bags to use for produce and sometimes don’t even use a bag for produce since I wash it all when I get home anyway. Here are the products I use:
This is a HUGE one! This will greatly reduce the amount of plastic you throw out. Even if you do recycle your water bottles it is much better to avoid using bottled water from the get-go. I bought a couple different reusable water bottles to suit my different needs. I have a big one I keep in my car, a medium sized one, and a small guy that can fit into my purse. I also use these for iced tea, cocktails, and milk or juice to take with me when when camping! I also encourage you to use a reusable travel coffee mug as well. It’s easy to find places to refill the water. Most big stores have drinking fountains including the grocery store and malls. Parks often have water fountains as well. I have also noticed almost all of the airports I have visited in the past year now have filtered drinking water for filling bottles. Yay! Be sure to clean your bottles frequently and if it has a straw be sure to clean that thoroughly as well. During the summer months here in AZ I clean mine out almost daily and usually keep the smaller one in my purse since leaving the bottle in the car it tends to get very HOT! I highly recommend buying metal NOT plastic since plastic can release toxic chemicals, and again, it’s not great for the environment in the first place. Here are the bottles I use almost every single week:
This one is another simple one especially if you carry a purse! Bring your own utensils and straw. Over the past couple years there have been tons of products developed to make bring your own straw and utensils so much better! I like to go with silicone and wood. My utensils that I carry are wood (nice and lightweight) and my straws are stainless steel with silicone tips. I can’t stand the feeling of putting a steel straw in my mouth so the silicone tips are a must for me. I also liked this one because it came with a metal travel container instead of plastic. The utensil set I bought didn’t have the bamboo straw that’s included in the one below. This could eliminate the need to carry a separate collapsible straw but like I said mine didn’t come with that (I bought it several years ago) and so I carry my stainless steel one with me.
This is a big one for both the environment as well as your wallet! I have made a huge habit of when I need or want something I try to find it used before buying it brand new. Of course there are some exceptions to this but for the most part almost anything I want or need I can find used. Some of the things I don’t buy used would be makeup or liquid toiletry items, undies, food, and some other household grocery items. I have saved so much money and prevented lots of items from ending up in a landfill somewhere. I frequently visit Goodwill to find items I’m currently needing or wanting as well as using apps such as Offerup, Poshmark, Craigslist, E-bay, and Letgo.
Some examples: The weather just turned really nice here in Arizona and I found myself wishing I had a patio set. So instead of buying a brand new one I managed to piece together a 6 person patio table with chairs and chair pads for a total of $65! Score! I also was wanting some new workout gear at the beginning of the year (hello fitness resolutions) and instead of spending a fortune on fancy workout clothes I found the same name brands for a fraction of the price at Goodwill. I scored a white Lulu Lemon tennis skirt, a pink Nike quarter zip long sleeve top, and some Under Armor gear for around $3-6 each #WINNING. If you’re looking for something in particular Poshmark and E-bay are probably your best bet. I also have friends who have scored some awesome electronics on Offerup like Apple watches, Dyson hair dryers, and laptops to name just a few!
Be sure that when you no longer want something you donate it instead of putting it in a landfill or you could opt sell it on one of those secondhand apps or sites for some extra cash! I’ve made quite a bit of money selling my gently used clothes on Poshmark.
Well that’s it! I hope you enjoyed these tips. I would love to hear what you think of all these! Let me know in the comments if you tried any of these out or if you have some ideas to add to my list!
I also wanted to include a little list of additional things you can do to make a difference in the environment and how much trash you produce. These take a little bit more effort than the ones I listed above but are extremely effective!