Take a guess at how much waste the average American produces in just one day. If you said 4 pounds, you’re bang on. Considering there are about 320 million people in the country, that’s a lot of waste! Even when you take into consideration recycling efforts, you’re still looking at about 3.5 pounds per person.
Sounds like a lot, right? Well, it is. But luckily there are simple things you can do to reduce the amount of waste you generate, and lower your carbon footprint on the Earth.
1. Compost Your Food Scraps
Composting is extremely helpful at scaling back on the amount of garbage that piles up at landfills. Food scraps like fruit peels, egg shells, and fish skin can easily be chucked into a compost bin instead of the garbage can. Even lawn clippings and other types of yard waste can be composted. Considering the fact that this type of waste accounts for almost a quarter of the country’s solid waste, you can really cut down on the amount of trash that winds up at our landfills.
2. Use Fabric Grocery Bags
Plastic isn’t exactly easily broken down, and that includes grocery bags. Think about how many times you hit the supermarket, and how many bags you use to carry your groceries from the store to your kitchen. It’s a lot. Rather than filling up your garbage with plastic grocery bags, use reusable bags instead. You might have to pay for them up front, but the amount of waste that you can reduce by using them makes them worth every penny.
3. Grow Your Own Food
Aside from using less plastic grocery bags, you can further reduce this kind of waste by growing your own food. You don’t need to be a farmer or live on acres of land to do your part. Even a small tomato plant on your deck or a herb garden along your window sill can work. And you know that compost you’ve been working on? You can use it to feed your garden too!
4. Donate to Thrift Stores
Before you throw out that old tea pot or dusty old 80s glam rock CD, consider donating them to a second-hand store instead. Once you start doing this, you’ll wonder why you never started earlier. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure; there’s always someone out there who’ll want your discarded goods. Better to be used than trashed!
5. Buy Used
Someone’s buying and using your old stuff, so there’s no reason why the reverse can’t be true. In fact, buying used goods is simply another way to recycle. It keeps things out of landfills, and uses a lot less untapped resources. And let’s not forget how much money you can save buying used versus new. It’s a win-win!
6. Skip the Single Servings
Even if you’re a singleton, try to resist the temptation of buying single serving food portions. Packaging for things like juice, TV dinners, applesauce, and the like can really add up quickly. Go for food products that come in bigger packages and use glass tupperware or stainless steel containers to house whatever you don’t consume right away.
7. Forget the Paper Plates & Plastic Cutlery
Don’t be lazy. Forget about using utensils and dishes that you can throw away after one use just to avoid having to wash some dishes. Even if you’re heading off to a picnic or are packing lunch for work, bring the real deal whenever possible. Bring it back home with you to wash at the end of the day, and presto – no garbage!
8. Put a Stop to Junk Mail
How many times have you trashed flyers without even looking at them? That’s a lot of waste for no reason. If you’ve got no use for solicitation-type mail, then put a stop to it right away. Inform the local post office, or call each company directly to stop the mail. If worse comes to worse, slap a “No Junk Mail” sign right on your mailbox – the mail deliverer will get the picture.
9. Switch to Paperless Bills
Just like junk mail can fill up the trash really quickly, so can your old bills. You’re not going to keep your phone or electricity bill forever. And when it’s time to shred and discard them, they’ve got to go somewhere – right to the landfill. Getting paper bills in the mail is so archaic – instead, call each creditor and ask to have electronic versions of your bills sent to you instead to eliminate such unnecessary waste.
Well, duh! As if anyone has to be told to recycle these days! As obvious as it sounds, it’s still worth mentioning. Despite knowing how much waste can be reduced through recycling, Americans are still guilty of trashing upwards of 9 million tons of glass every year! Why is that? It takes just as much effort to toss that glass bottle in the recycling bin as it does to drop it in a trash can.
All these actions are easy, fast, and free. If everyone did their part, we could be looking at a lot less waste, and a healthier planet.