I run the recycling program at my work place, and because of this I always receive many questions on the subject. However, many forget that recycling should be the last option in the steps to living waste free. In order to be successful, a person must follow the first step in the cycle, which is to reduce the amount of waste produced from the beginning. There are several ways that I listed below that we all can do in order to decrease our impact and head towards a zero waste future:
- Reducing food packaging
One of the biggest creators of waste are trips to the grocery store; from the packaging, this food is actually in to the packaging that we use to carry the food home in. However, this can be reduced by buying fresh fruits and vegetables rather than those in plastic or processed, buying from local farmers markets, using cloth bags rather than plastic for carrying food, and of course growing food from your own backyard. Whether it’s growing your own herbs or raising chickens in your backyard, every little independent effort can decrease packaging waste from food. As well, most groceries will take a couple cents off for each reusable bag of your own you use rather then theirs.
2. Planning Ahead for Going Out
If you go any place in public from a restaurant to a concert, there are always temptations for producing trash. Creating a plan and thinking ahead will help defend against creating unecessary waste when you’re out enjoying life. There are several ways to combat this issue by asking for no straw (if you need a straw you can always bring a reusable one from home which I tend to do), bringing a reusable bottle, bringing your own cloth tissue or napkin, bringing your own silverware, and even your own to go box. Now I know this is hard to remember but if you plan ahead you can largely reduce your impact by the end of your evening. There are even places such as Starbucks who will allow you to put drink orders in your reusable cup and will reduce the price of your drink by doing this.
3. Buying Used Rather than New
Don’t get me wrong, there are defiantly some things you want to buy new, such as underwear or fresh strawberries, but many things such as furniture or older electronics can be used just as good as new minus the waste. People throw out furniture into the landfills everyday that still could be used by another person so please consider this before throwing out your own personal furniture that you no longer want. There are many donation centers that will gladly take your used furniture or electronics you no longer use, as long as it’s still in a good usable condition. This also means that there are options for you to choose from when you’re looking to add something in your home. Buying used not only reduces packaging waste and cost, but it also saves perfectly operating items from the landfill. As well, it reduces materials being pulled from ecosystems that are needed to create new furniture and technology. Almost every piece of furniture I have is used and I honestly love it, because I didn’t have to spend so much of my hard earned money on buying things when I moved into my first apartment.
There are so many ways to reduce your waste from the start and, though at times it can be a daunting process, it’s worth every effort. Actions speak louder than words and every little action can change the future towards a path to zero waste. We have to continue to work together to find ways to decrease are impact and I love hearing any ideas you guys have. Check out my other media links down below and always feel free to comment! Keep working Codegreeners!