10 Ways to Reduce Waste & Be More Eco-Friendly
Want to be more eco-friendly? Here are 10 ways to reduce waste in your life! These are simple swaps you can make that will have a huge impact on the planet!
I feel like there has been a greater awareness about the state of our environment and world in recent years, which I'm so pumped about! It can be super overwhelming when you start to look into different stats, but I think the most important step is to just become more aware of your own personal impact on this planet.
One trend that I'm seeing pop up more and more is about living a “zero waste lifestyle”. While I think that's totally awesome and I commend people for being able to do it, I also don't think that's very accessible to everyone. So rather than telling you how to use zero waste, I'm going to share some tips about ways to reduce waste and help you be more eco-friendly.
How to Reduce Waste
I wanted to create a list of things that aren't going to be too much effort. These are things that are merely swaps for what you're already doing. Kind of like a slight mindset shift that can, in the long run, have a huge impact on your own environmental footprint.
No matter what your political views are, the fact of the matter is that we can't keep continuing to create the amount of pollution and waste that we are and expect nothing to happen to the environment. Our waters are getting dirtier and dirtier, animals and dying because they're eating trash, there are islands of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean, and the list goes on. This isn't by any means meant to scare you, it's just to help us all understand that we can leave a lasting and positive impact.
As I'm personally focusing on doing this in my own life, I hope this post helps you find some new (and super simple) ways you can have a better impact on the environment. There are 10 things on this list, so don’t feel like you need to do all at once – maybe start with one that seems the easiest and go from there!
1. Starting with a bang: water.
Maybe you don’t think you waste a ton of water but I’m willing to bet there are ways you can cut back. Do you leave the water running when you wash your face or brush your teeth? Do you let the shower heat up for a good five minutes before jumping in? Do you flush the toilet 1359832 times a day? Start by being more aware of your water use and do what you can to cut back!
2. Bring your own bags to the grocery store.
Now that I walk to the grocery store, this has actually been pretty easy and is part of my routine. I just grab my totes and go! If you don't walk to the store, my best advice is to keep some in your car, some by your door, anywhere that will remind you to grab one on the way out! My mom unloads her groceries in the kitchen and then leaves the empty bags by the door so she can grab them and put them in her car on the way to work.
Plastic bags are everywhere. And I mean everywhere! This is one of those super simple swaps you can make that will be super beneficial. Don't know where to buy a tote? A lot of grocery stores have started to sell reusable bags for around $2 but you can use anything you have! Bonus points: a lot of grocery stores will give you a credit when you bring your own bag – saving all around!
One other thing on this topic, kind of like a bonus round, is picking up some reusable produce bags. I just recently invested in some and I love them! They keep my produce fresher for longer in my fridge and I don't end up using a million extra bags at the store.
3. Get a reusable water bottle.
This is probably the #1 thing I talk about most. You probably know that I always (and I always) carry around a reusable water bottle. Not only does it help me stay more hydrated on the go, but I'm also reducing the amount of plastic water bottles that are being added into our world.
As I'm sure many of you know, plastic water bottles are SO wasteful! There are so many alternatives to choose from – I personally like to use this one from Klean Kanteen because it's easy to drink out of, comes it a ton of fun colors and is insulated to keep my water super cool and refreshing! If your reason for drinking bottled water is that you prefer filtered water to tap water, get a filter for your tap or invest in a filtration system! Your water will taste just as good (if not better) than your bottled water.
4. Buy recycled/biodegradable versions of your kitchen staples.
I didn’t think about this much until recently, but probably nearly every household in this country keeps things like aluminum foil and parchment paper on hand. While we might not think that adds much waste, it's just another thing that we're tossing in the garbage that isn't biodegradable! Well…there's a solution!
There's a company called If You Care and they produce compostable paper items (like parchment, coffee filters, sandwich bags) and 100% recycled aluminum foil. I now exclusively buy their products because I know, even after baking that tray of cookies or tossing Matt's morning coffee grinds, that paper is compostable and will break down and go back into the earth.
5. Meal plan!
Could you see this one coming? I dove into this more in detail in this post but meal planning helps me so much with food waste! I know what I need to buy to get me through the week so I don’t have a ton of vegetables or herbs that go unused at the end of the week. For more info on meal planning, check out this blog!
6. Cancel junk mail.
I’m talking about the physical mail, not your email… Did you know you can stop all of that unnecessary mail from loading your mailboxes? Each company will vary but typically you can simply go online or give them a call to ask them to stop sending you mailings. On that same note, you can opt-out of paper receipts at most stores but also for recurring bills like car insurance, rent, etc.
7. Ditch the paper towels.
I 100% understand the love of paper towels. I feel like I never knew the state of my kitchen towel (what had it been used to clean up, is this towel that I’m using to dry my hands even clean, etc.) until I had a system in place. I now have a towel designated for drying hands, one for wiping up any/all messes and counters. Full disclosure: I still do keep paper towels on hand just in case there is a mess that requires it (Trevi, looking at you) but I rarely use them!
8. Skip the Ziplocks.
Another item that most of us likely use all the time are plastic zip bags. From storing sandwiches to packing up snacks to carrying dog treats around (yep, that's me!), these baggies are everywhere. And they're plastic and they're not recyclable or really that reusable. So rather than buying box after box of those flimsy plastic bags, invest in an alternative: silicone bags!
The brand I like is called Stasher and they have an assortment of sizes and colors. They even have prints for kiddos to make it even more fun!
I don’t know why I was intimidated by composting for so long. There are a ton of city resources for composting – a lot of cities have composting bins similar to recycling and trash bins and there are companies popping up that will come to your door to pick up your composting. Do a quick search for “composting in [your city]” for more information on what’s available to you. You will typically get a composting bin and a guide for what can and cannot be composted. Composting made easy!
10. Be mindful of how much you’re driving!
Are you close enough to walk or bike to work, events, stores, hangouts? Take the extra time to get some fresh air and make an impact on this world. If you have to drive to get basically anywhere, try to make your appointments or errands near each other so you can make one big trip instead of a bunch of little ones.
Which one of these did you identify with the most? Was there one that seemed like a simple first step you can take? I would love to hear what you plan on doing to become more eco-conscious!