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10 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste

We all know the adage:  reduce, reuse, recycle.  I try to put "reduce" first whenever I can, and whatever I'm still stuck with, we'll reuse or upcycle, and then ultimately recycle.  

Here are ten super duper easy tips to help you reduce waste:

  1. Remember your reusable shopping bags. We’ve all got tons of reusable shopping bags, but how frequently do we actually remember to bring them to the store?  I’ve gotten much better about remembering them lately and I do this by covering my bases.  I keep a few bags in my car, a few in my purse (ChicoBags fit everywhere!), a couple in the basket underneath our stroller, and some by both our front and back doors.   Don’t forget reusable produce bags – I like the produce sacks by Earthwise.  They’re mesh and take up little space.
  2. Drink tap water. No need for bottled water – most tap water in the U.S. is safe to drink.   There are lots of reusable water bottle options these days for when you’re on the go!   If your tap water has a funny taste, buy a good filter.  
  3. Cook at home and from scratch. We’re all busy and it’s hard to cook from scratch every night, but try picking a two or three days a week where this is something that you do.  Think about all the packaging when you buy premade food.  I love me some chicken tikka masala from Whole Foods Market’s prepared food section, but it still comes in a plastic tray which is also wrapped in plastic.  So wasteful!  
  4. Cloth diaper your babies and tots – at least part of the time. Cloth diapers are easier than ever these days. For many modern cloth diapers, you don’t need pins or special folding techniques.  Even if the idea of cloth diapers seems daunting, think of it this way:  using one cloth diaper a day in lieu of a disposable will keep over 1000 diapers out of the landfill if your kid potty trains around the age of 3.  One diaper a day…easy!  There are also hybrid options, so you can flush the liners and wash the shell.  
  5. Compost. You’d be surprised by how much waste in your home is actually compostable.  If you’re interested in composting, check out this beginner’s guide.  If you don’t garden or if you live in an apartment, visit Find a Composter.  They will help you find places for your compost!
  6. Switch to cloth napkins. We love our cloth napkins.  It doesn’t create a lot of extra laundry, so switching over was pretty effortless. 
  7. Pack lunches from home for school and work. When you pack your lunch, make sure it’s as waste-free as can be.  Use a reusable lunch box, reusable beverage containers, cloth sandwich baggies, etc.  Here are some more tips on packing a waste-free lunch.
  8. Bring your own mug to your local coffee shop. Two of the biggest U.S. coffee chains don’t have eco-friendly cup options.  Starbucks hot drink cups are not recyclable or compostable (yet) and Dunkin Donuts still uses Styrofoam for hot drinks.  Yuck.  Remember to bring your own mug or better yet – make your cup of joe at home!
  9. Learn to fix broken electronics or take them to get repaired. Treehugger has videos on how to repair electronics, including on how to dry a wet cell phone and laptop repair.  
  10. Buy items used and donate or sell your own used items. I love craigslist, Freecycle, and local consignment stores.  I can get rid of things that way or give used items a new life…without all that plastic packaging.  This is especially great if you have kids, when they get tired of toys so fast and outgrow clothes within weeks.

These tips are easy, they’ll save you a lot of money, and you’ll help the environment!