25 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Waste (& Save Money!)
I'm already SO appreciative that you are here reading this post because one thing we all should be doing is trying to be more environmentally friendly.
Now I am in now way zero waste, but I try to be cautious of how i'm shopping, what I'm discarding, and my impact on this poor planet that we are taking for granted.
What initially sparked my interest on reducing my waste was a buzz feed video titled "I Tried to Make Zero Waste for 30 days"
This video was a real eye opener for me, did you that the average american produces 4.4 lbs of garbage a day?! Where do you think all this trash is going? We only have one planet and if we keep going at this rate we are going to run out of space and our entire planet is going to look like the trash planet from Wall-E (Or the one in Thor, Ragnarok if you would like a reference to a more adult movie)
So here we go..
25 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Waste
OK people it is 2018. If you are not recycling what are you doing?! I know recycling can be a lot of work sometimes but once you start recycling and notice a difference in the amount of trash bags you are putting out every week it is actually so satisfying. Also you want to make sure you are recycling properly, rinse out that jar or can to make sure you don't ruin your efforts because a dirty tin of cat food can contaminate your whole bag of recyclables. One thing I like to stress is the importance of make recycling easy! I have a little kitchen station set up with a garbage can with multiple compartments labeled with what goes in each one, it makes it a lot easier to recycle, because if it's annoying or complicated it won't stick. One thing I like to recycle my cans and bottles separately and bring them to a nearby recycling depot and get some dolla bills $$. I know a person that I used to work with cleaning hotel rooms (back in my college days) and she used to collect recyclables from all the rooms and every year she made enough money for her and her husband to go on a cruise! Amazing!
This one is a pretty easy tip and you literally have to do nothing. Just stop buying stuff. Every time you make a purchase just ask your self do I really need this? Or is it something that I'm eventually going to throw out or not use? Our culture has an addiction for buying junk that we simply do not need and eventually if you go on a de-cluttering spree a lot of this useless stuff we are buying just goes in the trash. So just reduce your purchasing, reduce your stuff, and save your money for things that are more important.
Some times this one needs a little bit of creativity. If you have something that no longer serves it's purpose see if you can find another purpose for it. My classic thing I reuse is I turn old worn out clothing into scrub towels. Another thing I do is if I buy a jar of pasta sauce, salsa, macaroni salad etc, my attitude is "Yay! free jars!" I have a pile of macaroni salad containers that I use as Tupperware. Every time we have a BBQ someone is guaranteed to bring some sort of salad. So whenever they do I either recycle appropriately or just keep the containers for myself. (Also now you can save some money on not having to buy new cloths or containers!)
4. Stop buying bottled water & bring your own bottle.
This one I can not stress enough. Stop buying bottled water! First of all it's just a huge waste of money. I understand the convenience of grab and go but I have 3 water bottles that I keep filled in my fridge and it's just as easy to grab one of those. Sometimes depending on where you live the water quality may be a little sub-par so if you buy bottled water because you don't like tap invest in a Brita Filter, we have a big Brita jug and it's great for making any tap water taste great and we always have nice cold water in our fridge no bottle required. Whenever I'm out and about I have this huge 48 liter water bottle that I bring with me and I'm all set for water through out my day. I also like to slice a few lemons and put in my water to get a little extra taste. Having my own big bottle of water also helps me drink more which I'm sure none of us are doing. So pros of cutting out the bottles: Save money, Reduce Plastic, Increase water intake with a nice new big bottle, win win win.
5. Bring your own Utensils, Containers & Straw.
This one might seem a little silly but it actually makes a huge different. Plastic cutlery and straws is making a HUGE impact on our planet. These things take like 1000 years to break down! We need to cut these things out so our grandchildren are not just walking through a waste land of plastic straws and forks. I have this little key ring of disposable cutlery I keep in my purse as well as a straw and chopsticks. I recommend getting your own set here, this set is super nice, it's bamboo which is awesome and even comes with a little tool to clean the straw. Just pop it in you purse or backpack and you're all set!
4. Bring Your Own Bag
Plastic bags are a terrible thing. I know they are convenient but did you know Americans throw out over 100 billion plastic bags a year?? and once again I have to sneak in there that it takes 1000 years for this stuff to break down! I have a TON of reusable bags. I just love them! I usually keep a few in my car in case I have a spur of the moment shopping trip I'm covered and I also keep a thinner one folded up in my purse in case I forget as well. & in desperate times when I don't have a bag at all I just carry my things, tell the person working no thank you I don't need a bag for that one item I came here to buy. It actually makes such a big difference on our planet when you stop using bags. Since I've switched to reusable I feel like I'm constantly saying "I don't need a bag" or "Stop! I have my own bag here". Not only are reusable bags far superior it makes stuff way easier to carry into my house! Those reusable bags have so much more space then the plastic ones. If I bring 2 or 3 reusable bags to the store that would probably be bagged into 6 or 7 flimsy plastic bags. One more thing I want to add is some stores will give you a discount if you bring your own bag! So that's a great incentive as well! (I know Colemens grocery store here and Newfoundland does this)
5. Buy in bulk with your own jars
This one might sound like a little bit of work but hear me out! I love going to bulk barn. I always went and used those tiny little bags and get a ton of stuff and when I got home I had a huge job waiting for me of transferring everything I bought into jars and containers. (I can't have a cupboard full of those messy little bags everywhere). So what I've started to do is compile my grocery list (most store you can see their stock online anyways) and I'll get some mason jars (I usually label them too if I know exactly what I'm getting) and bring them to the store for my shopping. When I get there they just weigh it all for me and I do my shopping and I check out with my jars all nice and full. I know it sounds like a pain to bring a pile of jars to a store but it is way easier then having to transfer all these baggies into jars when I get home. I bought some nice wide mouth mason jars so whatever I'm scooping I can easily fit into my jars, I also have a few smaller ones I bring for my spices and other little things. Also shopping in bulk can save money and it reduces so much waste to shop this way. Just give it a try and I swear you'll be hooked.
6. Start a compost bin.
As a vegan I make a lot of food scarps. Composting is something I was a little skeptical about in the beginning but one thing I love about composting (that might surprise you) is that my garbage can doesn't stink anymore! Such a weird benefit but one thing I hated was if I made something with onions and I threw a few random pieces in the garbage and then it would stink! Now I have this nice little container in my freezer and when it gets full I bring it out to the compost bin in my backyard (I got my compost bin at the town hall of the place I live in, I'm sure lots of other towns have similar composting programs) . If you have no idea how to compost there is a ton of videos you can watch to help you get started (like this one). One other thing you could also do with your veggie scraps is save them and make your own vegetable stock! I haven't tried this yet but it's on my to do list.
7. Get a Travel coffee Mug
Coffee cups are often a big topic of conversation when it comes to waste. We are all a big coffee loving bunch (myself included!). So one thing you can do to still enjoy your coffee and be green is bring your own cup. Not only is it green but a lot of places (Ex. Tim Horton's) will give you a discount if you bring your own mug! So save the paper, save some money, and bring a nice travel mug with you.
8. Stop using zip lock bags & plastic wrap.
Just cut them out. There is no job that a plastic bag does that a reusable container can not do. I haven't bought zip lock bags in ages and it hasn't phased me. If you are a plastic wrap lover I suggest switching to a more environmentally friendly option like reusable wrap. (Also by cutting out plastic bags you know what that means? Saving your $$$)
9. Get a silicone mat in place of parchment paper or tin foil
10. Pack your own lunch
This is a big one. First of all packing your own lunch is such a great practice anyways. It's much healthier and saves a lot of money. When you go to a fast food place and get lunch you get a TON of waste. Bags, straws, cutlery, napkins, cups, it's just so much waste! Pack your own lunch for your health, your wallet, and the planet!
11. Stop using Disposable K-Cups
I know a lot of you love your convenient coffee, as do I don't get me wrong! But K cups are such a luxury item first of all, they are crazy expensive compared to just buying loose coffee grinds, and they produce a ton of plastic. Even the ones that are suppose to be environmentally friendly are individually wrapped (??). So cut them out, get a reusable K-cup you can fill with your gown grinds or buy a normal coffee pot and brew your own coffee at home. Way cheaper and not to mention it tastes way better! (Just don't forget to compost those grinds when you're done :))
12. Get yourself some cloth napkins
Speaking of a luxury item, what feels more luxurious then a nice cloth napkin? This is something I just invested in but Omg I love it! I have these ADORABLE little napkins that are just so much nicer to have next to my plate then the disposable alternative. Not to mention it makes me feel so fancy!
13. Stop putting your veggies in plastic bags
When you got to the grocery store you know what you don't need? Those little bags. I stopped using them because they are such a waste. I bought these little produce bags for when I'm stocking up on lemons but usually I just carry my product loose.
14. Cut out dryer sheets
I don't even know the point of these honestly. I cut these out initially because I have sensitive skin and I wanted to reduce chemicals I don't notice a difference in my clothes at all. I know some people use dryer balls instead to reduce static so if you love your dryer sheets mix it up and get the reusable alternative. (and of course no more buying dryer sheets means saving money!)
15. Utilize Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are the best place to get some hidden gems. I love buying dishes and plates and all kinds of stuff from the thrift store. It's a great way to save some money, find some unique items and even support a charity because many thrift stores are charity based! (once again, thrift store shopping = saving your money)
14. Make your own multipurpose cleaner.
This is a great way to reduce chemicals, save some money on cleaning supplies and reduce the amount of bottles you are buying. Just some rubbing alcohol, vinegar and water makes a great multipurpose cleaner! I like to add a little bit of lemon essential oils to mine to add a great scent as well.
15. Use a bamboo tooth brush
Plastic is the worst! I keep saying it, I'm like a broken record! So switch to a bamboo toothbrush and when you're done with it throw it in your compost bin.
16. Stop using a disposable razor
Just stop shaving your legs all together. (Kidding!) But the plastic razors are just terrible. Also we don't need all these fancy blades. Just 1 blade does the trick. Switch to a double edge safety razor for the closet greenest shave you've ever had.
If someone offers you some "swag" at a festival or conference just say no. All these useless things that are given to use almost always end up in the trash. Plus it just adds so much clutter and junk to your home. Just say no thank you.
18. Mix up your lady routine with a Diva cup or IUD.
This one is a biggy. Ladies, the tampons and pads need to go! They create sooo much waste! Not to mention that tampons are just bad for you (Hello Toxic Shock). Everyone I know that uses a diva cup loves it! Yes it reduces waste but it also holds way more, are way less likely to leak, doesn't disturb your natural flow or dry you out and eliminates the risk or toxic shock! That alone is a good enough reason to switch, not to mention it's a one time purchase so no more buying lady supplies every month($). Also if you have no interest in having kids within the next 5 years you could also get an IUD and be free from taking birth control at all or even having periods.
19. Paperless Billing
Most companies now-a-days are pushing paperless billing. It saves them money, it saves the environment, and a lot of companies will give you a discount if you go paperless. So save yourself a trip to the mail box and go paperless!
This was one thing I resisted for a while. I love to read and I love the smell and feel of a real book. However, over the years I've accumulated quite a collection of books that are taking up so much space I have no idea what to do with them all. So I decided to get myself a Kobo and I'm so glad I did! Not only do they save paper but you can carry all your books around with you wherever you go, like thousands of books! You have all these digital books that you can just keep forever and don't have to worry about if they will make the cut next time you de-clutter. Not to mention they save you money! The last book I bought was a 30 dollar book but the Kobo version was only 15! & if you want a new book you can buy it right there on your kobo and you don't even need to get out of bed. I swear I'm not affiliated with Kobo or Kindle I just think it's a great little device that can reduce waste, save money, and just make life easier.
21.Use a Reusable Tea Bag or a Tea Pot
I love me some tea. One of my favorite things is having a little "tea time" before bed. I get my little bed tray with my tea pot or reusable tea wand and my Kobo, maybe some aroma therapy. It's just so nice and relaxing and the best thing about it is that I'm not producing any waste with my loose tea and reusable bag. A reusable bag is an easy cheap swap that can make a big difference if you drink a lot of tea, or if you're home drinking tea a lot just get a nice little tea pot and make tea time a little occasion like I do.
22. Donate & Gift
If there is an item that you no longer love, maybe someone else would. Donate these items to a nice charitable thrift store of if you can think of a family member or friend that would like that sweater that just doesn't spark joy for you anymore give it to them, I'm sure they would love it.
23. Be conscious of the food you are buying
When you're food shopping just take notice of the packaging it's all in. If you are planning on buying some kale just buy the nice big head of kale instead of that bag that's precut and prewashed. Some times it can be really hard to find environmentally friendly substitutions for everything, just be mindful of what you are buying and you'll make the right choices more often then not.
24. Switch you furry friends to a better kitty litter.
I love animals. More specifically I love my sweet little fur babies Rosie and Simon. One thing I just assumed I wouldn't be able to compromise on is the kitty litter but I recently found a brand of kitty litter that's better then then regular sand. Yesterdays News kitty litter is made from old newspapers so it's biodegradable and not to mention it's dust free which is great. I recently bought this because my little Rosie has a bad paw and the vet introduced me to this brand so sand wouldn't get into her wound but I must say it's a great product and a nice way to keep your kitties green.
25. Eat less meat and animal products
You probably could of guessed that I was going to throw this one in here. Eating less animal products is a HUGE way to reduce your waste. Animal agriculture accounts for more green house gases then all the vehicles on the planet combined. I'm not trying to push "Go Vegan" but even if you just had a few meatless meals a week over time the amount it really adds up. I could go on and on about animal agriculture and the environment but I would need an entire new blog post for that one so for now I'm just going to recommend you watch the documentary Cowspiracy for more information on animal agriculture and the environment .
Going green doesn't have to be complicated. I know 25 might seem like a lot of tips but my goal is that you read these 25 tips and even if you only do 1 or 2 of them it'll make a difference. Someone said to me before that just one person or one swap won't make a difference but if you think about that cup of coffee you drink every day being replaced with a mug over the years the amount of waste you'll save is substantial!
So make the swaps, go green, feel good about yourself and help save our only planet.
If you try any of these please let me know I'd love to hear it. If this article makes a difference for just 1 person I would be happy. Or if you had any going green tips of your own that I never touched on please let me know :)
All the best