10 Ways to Reduce Waste

Written by Ellie Steltz on 04/22/18

Happy Earth Day friends! This is one of my favorite holidays because it brings attention to finding ways to live more in tune with the Earth and celebrating its beauty. Because this topic is near to my heart, I thought I’d share some tips for how you can reduce the waste you create in your life which in turn reduces the amount of waste that goes into the earth. 

I’ll start by giving a super quick explanation of why this is important. Our culture today is all about getting things quickly and as easily as possible. This has created a lot of disposable products that you use once and simply toss in the trash.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about not having to wash as many dishes, but this is overall detrimental to the earth. See, when we throw things away, they go into landfills which don’t allow for the natural process of decomposing to occur because everything is crushed and devoid of oxygen. Also, most of what we are throwing away wouldn’t decompose anyways because it is made from plastic. So just take a second to think about how many people are in the United States alone and the trash that each person throws away… all of it is just building up and taking up space on this earth as well as seeping chemicals into the soil that do not belong there. Yikes! 

Please hear me out. I am not here to tell you to go off the grid and not create any trash because the world depends on it. I know everyone has a lot going on in their lives and it simply isn’t possible for everyone to make such a major change. I am here to give you some very simple ways you can reduce even just a little of the waste you create in your every days lives. Think again about the United States and think of what a difference it would make if everyone chose not to use paper towels for one day. That would be a lot of paper towels saved which means less trees cut down. You get the picture. Little changes can make a big difference.

Here are 10 easy ways to reduce waste

1. But first, coffee

Whether it is a fancy Starbucks drink or a cheap cup from a gas station to stay awake on the road, there’s no denying that we love our coffee! So many disposable coffee cups are being thrown out every day. How about keeping a reusable coffee cup with you when you go out and filling that up rather than getting a paper cup every time? Most coffee shops will be happy to fill your cup for you. When it starts to warm up and that iced coffee is calling your name, how about taking a mason jar to have them fill up? Just be sure to have a jar that has the ounces marked on it. Trust me, you will feel super cool drinking out of a mason jar. #justsaying


2. Reusable shopping bags

This is one of my favorite ways to reduce waste because it’s so simple. There are so many great reusable shopping bag options out there and at this point, every grocery store has them at the check out counter in case you forget yours! I do my best to keep some bags in the car at all times in case I end up having to run to the store while I’m out, but just in case all of my cloth bags end up in the house, I actually have a little bundle of plastic grocery bags that stay in the car permanently just to be safe. I figure its better to reuse plastic bags than to collect even more! Here is one of my favorite canvas bags to use. (shown in the image)


3. Snack bags and food storage 

Ziploc baggies. Magical household items that are so handy and soooo easy to throw away without thinking about it. One simple way to help reduce the amount of baggies that you throw away is to wash them and use them again! Growing up overseas we did this with all of our bags because ziploc baggies were basically gold. However, there are also plenty of options out there now that can replace plastic baggies so you have a more eco friendly option and one that is safer for your home. I have been loving the one that I found recently by re(zip) that works just like a ziploc bag but is made to last for a long time. They even have to option for you to mail it back to them to recycle it if it ever wears out! Check them out.


4. Paper towels

Yet another magical household item that can be so freaking convenient. I had a hard time thinking of giving up paper towels at first, but I’ve found a system that works for me. I keep a container of rags and cloths under the sink so they are convenient to grab when there is a spill. Then I have a laundry basket in my kitchen, also in a convenient location, specifically for kitchen towels that keeps them out of the way until I can wash them. I confess that I still use paper towels for some things, but changing my mindset to using rags first has helped me greatly reduce the amount of paper towels I use. I also use these cloths as napkins!


5. Speaking of laundry…

Have you ever tried making your own laundry detergent? This can save you money and keep unnatural chemicals out of your home! I’m not going to go into the details on this now, but I encourage you to look at the products that you use for cleaning in your home and make sure there isn’t harmful chemicals in it. These are things that are touching your skin and getting into your air! Here is the recipe I've been using.  And here are some more laundry detergent recipes and tips!


6. Plastic wrap

I recently gave Bees Wrap a try as a substitution for plastic wrap and I have been very pleased! It is easy to use and easy to clean. These work to wrap food in or cover containers. 


7. Eating Out

One simple trick that could save some waste when eating out is to take your own container with you to transport any left overs you may have. If you want to go a little crazy, you could even take your own straw! But one step at a time…

8. Compost!

I am so excited to finally start my own compost bin/pile this year. This is one major way you can reduce the trash that goes to the landfill. Any food or paper scraps can be composted and turned into beautifully rich soil for your garden! It takes time, but it is worth it to be putting the nutrients back into the ground rather than stuffing it in pile of trash that will just rot rather than decompose. 


9. Grow things

Veggies, herbs or anything your heart desires, just grow stuff! Plants are such a vital part of our ecosystem giving us food and oxygen. Why not grow some of your own? Growing plants can even contribute to your physical and mental health because you will be caring for them and watching life happen, which is super rewarding. 


10. Thrift

If you have never gone to a thrift store, you are missing out! But thrift stores aren’t only cool because you can find unique things and get a great deal. Buying second hand is actually a great way to reduce waste because you are using what is already out there rather than buying brand new clothes. It is also important to allow your clothes to have a second life by donating them or selling them. 

Now that you have some ideas to work with, I encourage you to start by choosing one thing to try out. That’s it! The best way to make a lifestyle change is to incorporate things little by little. I also wanted to mention a company that I have come to love. Thrive Market sells eco friendly products at a discounted price and collects them all into one place to make it easy to shop. That is where I purchased the Bees Wrap and reusable ziplock bag shown in this post. Have a look!

To celebrate Earth Day, here is a free download of some greeting cards! Also, head over to my shop because the Plant Momma mug is 30% off today only! Snag one for yourself or for that plant momma in your life.

Have a happy Earth Day my friends!

Ellie

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