Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!
These are important things to consider as we try to be more conscious consumers who use less and reuse more. It is impossible to be perfect, but there are certain tips and tricks that can help you on your journey to reducing the waste you create.
(Due to Covid-19 regulations, most places are currently not accepting reusable containers, so it is now more important than ever to be aware of how many single use items you are using on a daily basis.)
1. Make your coffee/lunch at home. As restrictions ease and we are beginning to venture out of the house it is tempting to want to go and get a coffee from your favourite coffee shop (and it's important to support your local businesses!), but being mindful of how often you are eating/drinking using disposable containers is an important step in reducing waste.
2. Buy non-plastic alternatives. There are many items on the market that are alternatives to plastic, which biodegrade at a faster rate and are kinder to our planet. For example, switching to bamboo toothbrushes is a simple and affordable step. In fact, over one billion toothbrushes are thrown out annually in the U.S. alone!
3. Grow your own vegetables. We had to mention this! Growing your own vegetables reduces the amount of plastic associated with the packing and bagging of different produce, and lowers emissions associated with transporting food. It's good for the environment in more ways than one!
4. Be conscious of food waste. It is easy to get excited going into the grocery store. Sometimes something just pops out at you and you need to try it! But, it's important to consider whether you will be able to actually eat everything before it goes bad. It can be helpful to try to plan meals before going to the grocery store so you can make the best decisions.
5. Host a clothing swap. Now that we are able to socially-distance hang in groups of up to ten, this could be a good opportunity to host a clothing swap with some friends. Clothing swaps are a great way to refresh your wardrobe without having to throw anything into the landfill.
6. Actively track your plastic use. A good way to start being mindful of the amount of plastic you consume is to actually keep track. You can do this by writing down all of the plastic items you consume in a day. There are also apps, such as My Little Plastic Footprint, that help you be more conscious of what you are using. It also gives you advice and alternatives to plastic items.
7. Donate. When you no longer have use for an item in your home, an excellent way to extend its life is to consider donating it to one of the many charities that are designed to reuse clothing and household items. What may be outdated to you, could be perfect for somebody else!
8. Pause and consider. One way to reduce waste is to take a second to consider whether you need the item are about to consume. Being conscious of our wants and needs can help us to make better decisions that reduce our waste overall.
9. Repurpose your things. An excellent way to reduce waste is to repurpose household items. Have a shirt that doesn't fit? Why not turn it into a dish cloth! Being creative about how to reuse items is a fun way to challenge yourself to reduce what gets thrown into the landfill.
10. Reuse food scraps. Composting is an excellent way to reuse food scraps and there are common food items you can reuse to improve soil quality. Coffee grounds and egg shells can be put directly onto your soil, which is an awesome way to reuse items that would otherwise be thrown away.
This is not an exhaustive list, but instead a rough guide to help you get started on reducing waste for a better, cleaner and healthier environment.