reducing waste

Recycling, while a pivotal advancement in the materials management industry, is still a resource intensive process. The best solution? To not even  need  to recycle. That’s where reducing waste comes in.

Recycling, while a pivotal advancement in the materials management industry, is still a resource intensive process. The best solution? To not even need to recycle. That’s where reducing waste comes in.

Why should I reduce waste?

We’ll be the first to tell you that landfills are safe and reliable solutions to managing garbage. That doesn’t, however, mean that they are the best solutions. By reducing the amount of garbage we put out at the curb every week we will be conserving valuable natural resources that we and others rely on daily. Additionally, it will likely mean healthier habits in our every day routines. From the food we eat to extra cash we spend, what we throw away can be connected to every facet of our life.

So, what’s the best way to figure out if you’re able to reduce waste? Probably to just give it a shot!

KEEP YOUR FOOD SCRAPS OUT OF THE GARBAGE   You don’t have to landfill food scraps. You can compost them in your very own backyard. This is important because when food waste ends up in a landfill it decomposes anaerobically (that means without oxygen) and creates methane gas. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Food waste, also referred to as organics, make up 25-30% of the waste stream. By composting you could divert a significant amount of material from the landfill destination, while also helping to mitigate your personal contribution to climate change. Learn how to start a backyard compost  here .

KEEP YOUR FOOD SCRAPS OUT OF THE GARBAGE

You don’t have to landfill food scraps. You can compost them in your very own backyard. This is important because when food waste ends up in a landfill it decomposes anaerobically (that means without oxygen) and creates methane gas. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Food waste, also referred to as organics, make up 25-30% of the waste stream. By composting you could divert a significant amount of material from the landfill destination, while also helping to mitigate your personal contribution to climate change. Learn how to start a backyard compost here.

COLLECT AND SAVE PLASTIC BAGS AND FILM FOR RECYCLING   Plastic bags and film are recyclable, but NOT IN YOUR CURBSIDE CART. If you put these things in your recycling cart, they will end up being landfilled. If you want to recycle bags and film they must go to a specified collection location, which these days is most grocery stores. It’s very important that the bags are  clean and dry.  You can find a location near you, and details on what is acceptable,  here .

COLLECT AND SAVE PLASTIC BAGS AND FILM FOR RECYCLING

Plastic bags and film are recyclable, but NOT IN YOUR CURBSIDE CART. If you put these things in your recycling cart, they will end up being landfilled. If you want to recycle bags and film they must go to a specified collection location, which these days is most grocery stores. It’s very important that the bags are clean and dry. You can find a location near you, and details on what is acceptable, here.

STOP BUYING DISPOSABLE BEVERAGES   When you know you’ll be getting coffee out, or thirsty in the middle of the day, take a thermos or water bottle with you. Coffee shops will fill your own to-go cup so you don’t have to take a disposable one. Coffee cups and lids  are not  recyclable…so this is a great byproduct to avoid. Additionally, water is often available everywhere. As long as you have a vessel for it you should be covered on the hydration front.

STOP BUYING DISPOSABLE BEVERAGES

When you know you’ll be getting coffee out, or thirsty in the middle of the day, take a thermos or water bottle with you. Coffee shops will fill your own to-go cup so you don’t have to take a disposable one. Coffee cups and lids are not recyclable…so this is a great byproduct to avoid. Additionally, water is often available everywhere. As long as you have a vessel for it you should be covered on the hydration front.

REDUCE = REFUSE   It can be hard to say no, but to recognize that we don’t need something before letting it into our lives can be the best way to minimize the waste we are creating. Whether it’s a “want” more than a “need,” it’s a poorly made item that you know will break, or if it’s something temporary to fill a gap that you forgot about, making due without can be a powerful way to start making change in your life.

REDUCE = REFUSE

It can be hard to say no, but to recognize that we don’t need something before letting it into our lives can be the best way to minimize the waste we are creating. Whether it’s a “want” more than a “need,” it’s a poorly made item that you know will break, or if it’s something temporary to fill a gap that you forgot about, making due without can be a powerful way to start making change in your life.

ALWAYS BUY USED   Before heading to Target or Kohl’s, try the local thrift store first.  It may take some patience and planning ahead, but once you get into the routine of never buying new you’ll see how easy it can be.  There are so many things that already exist in the world—simply displaced objects—rediscover it and make use once more!

ALWAYS BUY USED

Before heading to Target or Kohl’s, try the local thrift store first. It may take some patience and planning ahead, but once you get into the routine of never buying new you’ll see how easy it can be. There are so many things that already exist in the world—simply displaced objects—rediscover it and make use once more!

AVOID PACKAGING: BUY FRESH FOOD AT FARMERS MARKETS   You can find fresh, unpackaged food at most grocery stores as well, but Farmers Markets are often places that offer you the chance to connect more with your community and your food. Additionally, if the food is locally grown (not often available at grocery stores) then you can also count the miles saved on transportation as a part of your waste reduction efforts. A lot of food in the produce section of the grocery store is probably from out of state. At the market, you can usually find beautiful vegetables from within 30 miles!

AVOID PACKAGING: BUY FRESH FOOD AT FARMERS MARKETS

You can find fresh, unpackaged food at most grocery stores as well, but Farmers Markets are often places that offer you the chance to connect more with your community and your food. Additionally, if the food is locally grown (not often available at grocery stores) then you can also count the miles saved on transportation as a part of your waste reduction efforts. A lot of food in the produce section of the grocery store is probably from out of state. At the market, you can usually find beautiful vegetables from within 30 miles!

FIND OR MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTH BAGS   Instead of using disposable plastic bags find reusable cloth bags for groceries. You can also find lighter cloth bags for produce. You can find a simple no-sew pattern online like  this one , purchase some at your local grocer, or perhaps online. Remember that these bags will get your food from the market to your home; once at home, items should be stored appropriately based on what kind of food it is. Cloth bags will not keep vegetables fresh.

FIND OR MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTH BAGS

Instead of using disposable plastic bags find reusable cloth bags for groceries. You can also find lighter cloth bags for produce. You can find a simple no-sew pattern online like this one, purchase some at your local grocer, or perhaps online. Remember that these bags will get your food from the market to your home; once at home, items should be stored appropriately based on what kind of food it is. Cloth bags will not keep vegetables fresh.

BYO-JAR: SHOP THE BULK SECTION   There are bulk sections in most grocery stores these days. That means that you can bring your own containers and  fill them at the store  to avoid the packaging that would otherwise come with those foods. Cloth bags like those mentioned above are great for dry things like rice, nuts, granola, while jars can be used for liquids such as oil and honey. While the cloth bags are great for transporting foods from the store to your home, they will not keep foods fresh. Jars, which can be sealed, are best for that when it comes to dry goods like grains and coffee.

BYO-JAR: SHOP THE BULK SECTION

There are bulk sections in most grocery stores these days. That means that you can bring your own containers and fill them at the store to avoid the packaging that would otherwise come with those foods. Cloth bags like those mentioned above are great for dry things like rice, nuts, granola, while jars can be used for liquids such as oil and honey. While the cloth bags are great for transporting foods from the store to your home, they will not keep foods fresh. Jars, which can be sealed, are best for that when it comes to dry goods like grains and coffee.

REUSE YOUR VEGGIE ENDS   Even the ends of carrots, skins of potatoes, and shells of onions have flavor and nutrients in them. When you’re prepping vegetables for a dish, set those bits and pieces aside to freeze. Once you have a big bag saved up, just add water and boil it down for a nutritious vegetable stock. Onion, carrots, and celery are especially good for this.  The same goes for meat products.  Whether you’re carving a turkey or trimming fat from a roast, you can use all parts of the animal by making stock from the less-desirable pieces.

REUSE YOUR VEGGIE ENDS

Even the ends of carrots, skins of potatoes, and shells of onions have flavor and nutrients in them. When you’re prepping vegetables for a dish, set those bits and pieces aside to freeze. Once you have a big bag saved up, just add water and boil it down for a nutritious vegetable stock. Onion, carrots, and celery are especially good for this. The same goes for meat products. Whether you’re carving a turkey or trimming fat from a roast, you can use all parts of the animal by making stock from the less-desirable pieces.