Happy Earth Day! As you might know, I’m all about repurposing. But today, dear readers, I implore you to think about ways that you can reduce your waste. By reducing the amount of waste you consume in the first place, you’ll make leaps and bounds toward reducing litter in our environment and preventing clogged landfills. You’ll also take steps toward making Earth Day part of your everyday.
8 ways to reduce waste in your day-to-day
1. Don’t bag produce. You know the giant rolls of plastic bags placed throughout the produce aisle? Don’t use them! Either lay your produce directly in your cart (you’re going to wash them at home anyway) or bring your own reusable produce bag.
2. Forget the paper plates. And the plastic forks and cups too. The next time you have a cookout, birthday party or get together of any kind, consider using your own plates and silverware. Not only is it less wasteful, but it gives you more money to spend on food and, ahem, adult beverages (if that’s your style, of course). If you’re concerned about using glassware for an outdoor party or when children are involved, consider purchasing a set of long-term reusable plastic plates and cups.
3. Think about packaging. In this case, better things do come in larger packages. Avoid buying convenience sizes (yogurt cups, snack packs, juice boxes). Convenience products create more wasteful packaging to throw out and they are not convenient for your wallet. Instead, purchase bulk (or the largest size available) products (as long as it makes sense for your size family) and portion it out into smaller reusable containers. It takes about 10 minutes to portion out a bulk size of Goldfish into smaller containers for the whole week.
4. Get mugged. If you’re like my husband, coffee is a must throughout the workday. He visits his local coffee shop once, twice (sometimes three times!) a day. And like a good repurposeful husband, he brings his reusable coffee mug, each and every time. And he gets a discount for doing it!
5. Bake responsibly. For the longest time, I thought that paper baking cups were simply required for muffins and cupcakes. Turns out, not only do you not need them (just don’t forget to grease your muffin pan), but muffins bake a lot better and have a nice crusty bottom without them.
6. Leave some napkins for the rest of us! This one should be a no-brainer, but I’ve done it a few times in the past. When you dine in at your favorite fast food joint, Take only one napkin per person. If you need more, go back and get more. Don’t take a stack of 20 to your table “just in case.” More than likely, the stack of unused napkins will be wastefully thrown out.
7. Printing for your records. I’ve mentioned before about printing on both sides of paper, but here’s another way to cut down paper use: size reduction. For copiers and printers, there is a function called “size reduction” or “multiple pages,” which allows you to print more than one page per sheet. This is helpful if you’re printing something that you want to keep and file for your records.
8. Garden with peat. Right now, nurseries and gardening departments are packed with people planning for their spring and summer gardens. Unfortunately, a large percentage of seedlings and blooms are packaged in cheap plastic pots. But if you look closely, you can find plants in peat pots. Peat pots allow you to drop a seedling — pot and all — directly into the ground or planter. The peat pot naturally decomposes and also reduces the plant’s stress caused by transplanting.
Photo by mikebaird.