Living greener doesn’t always require drastic change, like moving to a treehouse or foraging for herbs. All it takes is a few small tweaks in your daily living to cut down your waste count by a significant amount. With a little research and a lot of motivation, you can be become the Green Queen (or King) in no time - and might even be able to say goodbye to your garbage can. These nine tips and tricks for cutting down your waste will get you started on a greener living.
Yes, the big “C.” Composting may sound like a practice limited to only the truest of treehuggers, but, in fact, it’s actually quite easy and requires very little time, effort and space. The process involves upcycling leftover food and organic matter to make a dark, rich substance known as humus, often used as a conditioner for soil. Keep a small bin on your kitchen counter where you can easily dump food scraps (including fruit, vegetables, eggshells, and coffee grounds).
ECO-ADVICE: Different lifestyles call for different composting methods. If you’re an avid gardener with a backyard, you can use the compost for your personal garden. If you live in a city that doesn’t offer curbside pickup, you might be able to donate your compost to a community garden or nearby farm.
2. BUY IN BULK
Buying in bulk is a great way to reduce packaging waste, save money, and try new foods in small quantities. Bulk stores are usually made up of rows of bins with scoops for you to ladle out your desired amount. In many bulk stores, you can buy grains, cereals, dried fruit, herbs, toiletries, cleaning products and even oils and vinegars.
ECO-ADVICE: Only buy as much as you can use before it goes bad. As a precaution, see if you can sample an item before you fill up.
3. CARRY YOUR OWN JARS AND RE-USABLE BAGS
Canvas bags are a treehugger’s staple. Avoid plastic altogether by always carrying a reusable bag or tote (many are built to be compact) in your purse or car. If you’re going bulk shopping, bring along jars with lids for any liquids.
ECO-ADVICE: Keep a stash of reusable bags in an easy-to-remember place so you can grab them any time you go shopping. Whether it’s your car, below the kitchen sink or next to the car keys - just designate a place and stick with it.
4. GET TO KNOW YOUR TRASH
Okay, it may seem a little gross, but it’s definitely worth taking a few minutes one day to rifle through your trash bin. See what types of packaging and products you seem to be throwing out most – this is where you should focus your waste reducing efforts.
ECO-ADVICE: While you’re down there ransacking your trash bin, double check to see if the items you’re throwing out are actually recyclable. Toilet paper rolls, non-aerosol deodorants, and cooking oil bottles are just some items people mistake for non-recyclable.
5. REPLACE PAPER WITH CLOTH
Yes, the disposable quality of paper products is convenient, but you just end up with avoidable waste. Napkins, paper towels, cleaning wipes can all be replaced with microfiber cloths, old t-shirts, huck towels and cloth napkins.
ECO-ADVICE: Keep a bin under the kitchen sink where you can easily toss dirty, used cloths and then throw them in with the rest of the laundry.
6. RETHINK YOUR TOILETRIES
Going green doesn’t mean sacrificing personal hygiene. Try a bamboo compostable toothbrush as a substitute for a plastic one, and organic, vegan makeup in place of drugstore brands.ECO-ADVICE: Also make sure the packaging is recyclable when purchasing eco-friendly toiletry products.
7. GET YOUR BILLS ONLINE
These days, most companies offer the option to receive bills via email or through an online account. Checking this box means cutting out a lot of unwanted mail and paper waste - much of which you probably throw out without opening anyway.
ECO-ADVICE: To avoid receiving paper-heavy pamphlets and promotional materials as well, pop a 'No Circulars' sign on your mailbox.
8. BUY A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Reusable water bottles are probably the easy step to sustainability. Purchasing a reusable water bottle you can fill up anytime, anywhere will definitely save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.
ECO-ADVICE: If you’re feeling guilty about the plastic water bottles you’ve accumulated over time, don’t fear. There are plenty of DIY projects that transform your plastic bottles to something new and useful.
9. MAKE YOUR OWN PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
If you’re feeling especially ambitious, try making your own hygiene products at home. Soaps, toothpastes and even deodorants can be made using only a few natural ingredients, like coconut oil and baking soda. This goes for spa treatments, as well.
ECO-ADVICE: If you’d like a nice scent or taste to compliment your DIY creation, try a few drops of aromatic essential oils, like peppermint, sandalwood or lavender.