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12 Easy Swaps For More Sustainable Living At Home

With climate change quickly approaching, we are always looking for ways to manage and reduce waste in our community, at school and at home. If you have been wondering about green living, we’re sharing some green living tips and eco-friendly changes that you can make at home to help you make the transition to a zero waste home. Whether you reduce, reuse, or recycle, each step towards reducing waste can benefit our planet and even save you money!

What happens to our waste?

After you have neatly rolled your trash bin out to the curb for its weekly pickup, your trash makes its way to a landfill. Simply put, a landfill is a way to bury trash by containing it and isolating it from the surrounding environment. However, landfills are one of the oldest and most commons ways to store trash, and in 1988, the EPA stated that all landfills will eventually leak. While landfills are regulated by the EPA, government regulations have been lax, leading landfills to be responsible for the environmental impact of large amounts of greenhouse gas, such as methane and toxic runoff from pollutants, waste material, chemicals and heavy metals.

Benefits of reducing waste

Making simple changes in your everyday life can have an astounding impact on reducing global waste and increasing environmental sustainability. It is estimated that Americans generate 4.4 lbs of trash per person per day. Even worse, Americans throw away roughly three times the global average.

So why recycle?

The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create waste. Less landfill waste equates to fewer green house gases and fewer incidences of water contamination. But equally as important are the environmental benefits that come as a result of reduced waste management, such as: CO2 emissions from trucks and machinery to process and transport waste and pollution from harvesting new materials.

Many materials, such as glass, paper and metals can be recycled or reused. Food scraps can be recycled in your garden by composting. Even buying products that have been made from recycled products can have a positive benefit on the environment.

These 12 simple ways can help you to reduce your waste and start making the most out of green products in your home.

Shop local

Did you know that conventional food, on average, travels 1,500 miles before it reach your place? Shopping local not only helps stimulate the local economy, but farmer’s markets are a great way to reduce packaging waste and emissions associated with transportation cost.

Bring your reusable bag

Ditch the plastic bag! Many cities have already implemented ordinances banning these single-use plastic bags, since more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the U.S. each year. However, when selecting a reusable bag, it’s important to find one that is machine-washable so that bacteria does not live on it after a grocery trip.

Start creating a meal plan

According to research, Americans waste approximately one pound of food per person per day, which equates to 150,000 tons of food waste each year. The easiest way to prevent food waste is to create a weekly meal plan and grocery shopping list to prevent waste and overbuying. Consider meal prepping for the entire week and freezing lunches and dinners for upcoming meals.

Creating a weekly shopping list will also help save money from spontaneous purchases at the grocery store.

Try this: Attempt a 30 day No Grocery Challenge. Do not purchase any new grocery items until you have used canned and dried goods from your pantry. This will not only show you which foods you tend to stockpile (and can adjust for future grocery trips), but will require you to be creative with recipes and dinner ideas.

Purchase reusable containers

These reusable food containers can be used to store your weekly meal prep, creating easy grab-and-go meals for lunchtime, thus cutting down on take-out and single-use packaging.

Reusable containers can also be used as convenient storage for bulk items in your pantry. Cut down on packaging waste by bringing these containers to the grocery store or farmer’s market with you and filling them with items in bulk, such as rice, granola, or nuts.

Ditch the processed foods

Not only are processed foods not as healthy for you as whole foods, they come much more packaging. When shopping, opt to purchase whole foods from the produce and meat sections to prevent unwanted packaging. If possible, purchase cereal, granola, or peanut butter from the bulk bins and place in your own reusable containers. This is even easier if you make a weekly trip to your local farmer’s market and buy directly from the producer.

Try using silicone in the kitchen

It might surprise you the amount of single use items that are in your kitchen. Items such as aluminum foil, parchment paper, Ziploc bags, or even cupcake liners are all single-use items. To cut down on waste in the kitchen, try using silicone. Silicone is perfect for baking since it provides a non-stick surface, is safe at high temperatures, and, of course, is reusable.

Go green with your cleaning

Most green cleaning products are safe, non-toxic, biodegradable, and made with recycled and/or sustainable packaging. These products not only help to lessen environmental pollution, but can help improve the quality of your home. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are commonly found in conventional cleaning products and are known to degrade the quality of your indoor air.

Green cleaning products are also the safe choice for homes with pets and small children.

Say NO to plastic and single-use items

On average, it takes a plastic water bottle 450 years to decompose. According to the Ocean Conservatory, each year 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our oceans. In addition, BPA, a chemical that can be found in many plastics, such as food storage containers and water bottles, has been known to leach into the contents, causing health problems. Consider converting to reusable glass water bottles or storage containers to cut down on your exposure to BPA.

The easiest way to cut down and manage waste at home is to eliminate single-use items from your daily life. This can include, but not limited to: straws, plastic wrap, coffee pods (K-cups), plastic silverware, takeout containers, paper towels, cotton swabs and more. While it might be hard to eliminate all of these single use items and go to completely zero waste, many of these items can be swapped for an affordable and reusable alternative.

Try reusable coffee equipment

One of the biggest culprits for daily waste in recent years has been the introduction of the popular single-use K-cup by Keurig. In fact, the amount of K-cups that are currently in the planet’s landfills could wrap around the Earth 10 times! If you are a fan of the single cup of morning coffee, consider purchasing a reusable Keurig cup that can be refilled and washed easily.

There are a variety of reusable and sustainable coffee products on the market, making it a simple switch to help reduce your waste each morning.

If you’re a fan of Starbucks coffee, customers are rewarded for bringing in their own cup for a discount. To prevent purchasing coffee at a local shop, brew your own at home with bulk beans and carry it with you in your own reusable cup.

Compost your leftover food

Composting leftover food scraps and organic waste can be one of the easiest (and most rewarding) ways for waste reduction. Fruit and vegetable rinds, coffee grounds, and egg shells can all be composted and used to enrich the soil in your yard and garden. You can easily create your own home compost bucket with a 5 gallon pail from a local hardware store, newspaper and fresh soil.

Consider reusable & sustainable beauty products

Instead of using single-use makeup remover wipes, try reusable, machine-washable cotton pads! Many beauty brands are also working towards sustainable and zero waste packaging, such as Seed Phytonutrients and Love Beauty and Planet.

Period products have also grown more sustainable in recent years, with the addition of the reusable menstrual cup!

Learn how to recycle

Many Americans simply throw waste into the trash without properly sorting and organizing into recycling bins. However, it’s important to know the correct ways to recycle to prevent the waste from ultimately finding its way to the landfill. Recycling basics and the correct way to recycle can be found here.

Reuse glass and metal items around the house for DIY home projects. Donate unwanted clothing to secondhand shops, thrift stores, or nonprofits, such as Goodwill.


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