Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Waste Reduction Tips

Our family produces very little trash. We have this roll-out container provided by the waste removal company and it is standard for our neighborhood, but ours rarely has much in it. We, as a family of four, have no more than two kitchen size bags of trash per week. Here's how we do it:

- Check into your area's recycling program. Learn what they recycle. If you've never watched The Story of Stuff, I would urge you to do so. My children attend a "green" school, so they are very aware of what can be recycled as well. We recycle all glass containers, most plastics (even the smallest containers are rinsed and put in the recycle bin, look for the symbol on everything before you throw it out), cardboard, paper and aluminum cans. It doesn't take much longer to put it into the recycling area instead of the trash.
- Sort your mail right over your recycle area. Most of our mail ends up there. Call any company that sends you catalogs and ask to be removed from the list. Most can be viewed online. If not, you can call when you need to order something and receive one catalog at that time. Sign up to receive your bank statements and bills via email if you pay them online. Zero waste and you can print a copy if you need it for tax purposes.
- Consider whether you need the newspaper everyday. Most can be viewed online now. We do receive the paper, but it ALWAYS goes into the recycle pile.
- Check with your local school. Ours has a paper recycling program that is a fundraising opportunity as well. We take all of our paper there when our bin fills up. Once a year, they also collect plastic grocery bags to be recycled (and many grocery stores have areas for this as well). They also accept printer cartridges that they exchanged for new ones at the office store. See if there is a local organization you can help out!
- Bring your own bags. We don't take bags from stores. Period. You will be amazed how much waste this eliminates from your home. If you take them, reuse and recycle them.
- Buy in bulk. If the price is close, we buy the larger size package. Less packaging equals less waste. We also don't buy many individually packaged items. Be conscious of packaging choices and try to make the eco-friendly one.
- Donate items that can be used by others. We give lots of books, toys and clothes to neighbors. What they can't use, we take to our local Goodwill.
- Yard waste and food scraps can be composted. We are not able to do that where we live right now, but we hope to in the future.
- Reuse everyday items. We make arts and crafts from cardboard boxes and egg cartons. We make musical instruments from toilet paper tubes. Think beyond the original use and see what you can come up with!

Do you have other great waste reduction tips you want to Talk About? Share them in the comments!


1 comment:

  1. Great list! The story of stuff is a real wake up call, isn't it??

    I would say, too, that certain containers can be saved. Egg cartons and strawberry cartons can be returned to the vendor at the farmers market - for reuse, which is even better than recycling. We freecycle our wine bottles for people to use for home brewing or art projects. Do the same for boxes and other shipping material. Keep up the good work!