Tips to Help You Reduce Household Waste

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most American families throw away about 29 pounds of garbage per week, per family member. That comes out to 1,600 pounds per person each year. Landfill space is at a premium, and at the rate we’re going we’ll soon have nowhere else to put all of our waste. You might be surprised at all of the little things you can do to keep your garbage output lower. Less waste means a cleaner environment, and cost savings for your family as well.

- Recycle. Never throw recyclable materials away. Just about every community has a recycling program or facility. Recyclable materials include plastics, glass, cardboard, aluminum, and newspaper. If your community doesn’t have a recycling program, why not see what you can do to start one? There are government grants and incentives available for communities that want to go green.

- Reuse. There are plenty of new uses for things that would otherwise be thrown away. For example, save those plastic grocery bags and use them to line trash baskets. Use glass jars and plastic containers to hold leftovers. Old clothing can be made into rags. Plastic bread bags can be used to hold a packed lunch. The list is endless with a little bit of creativity.

- Say no to disposables. Though they might be convenient, disposable items contribute an amazing amount of trash to our landfills. Wash and reuse plates, cups and flatware instead of buying disposable. Use cloth napkins instead of paper.

- Buy minimally packaged products. Did you know that around 30% of all of our trash is just from product packaging? It’s impossible to avoid packaging altogether, but look for packaging materials that can be reused or recycled. The easiest materials to recycle are paper, aluminum, tin, and some plastics. Look for the recyclable seal on all packages.

- Buy in bulk. This goes hand in hand with looking for minimally packaged products. The more products in one package, the less packaging wasted. Besides that, you’ll end up saving money on your grocery bill too.

- Fix it, don’t throw it. Don’t throw something away that doesn’t work if it can be fixed. Repairing an item, even if you have to bring it to an expert, might be less expensive than buying a new one. Consider bringing ripped clothes or clothes that need to be hemmed to a tailor. Bring electronics that don’t work to your local electronic store and ask for a repair estimate.

- Give it away. Consider giving gently used items you don’t want or need anymore to friends or family members who can use them. If you don’t know anyone, charities, thrift stores and consignment shops all take gently used donations. You can even ask for a receipt so that you can put it towards a charitable donation tax deduction.

There’s so much at stake if we don’t find eco-friendly ways to manage our waste. We are all citizens of this planet and have a vested interest in keeping it clean and green. Helping to free up landfill space can be achieved one family, one consumer, and one decision at a time. Start to make your household greener with some of these tips today.