Every year on April 22nd, more than a billion people celebrate Earth Day and saving the planet. Today’s blog post will touch on how we can reduce, reuse, and recycle in order to save the planet.
The world generates 2.12 billion tons of waste every year. Some of the largest dumpsites in the world are in Ghana, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Hmm, let that sink in for a bit. Learn more about the amount of waste we dump here.
It is no secret that we must start making regular changes to the way we co-exist with mother nature if we want to protect the planet and ensure our quality of life. I want to previse this post by saying, perfection is not the goal. Making small daily changes to live a more sustainable lifestyle is a step in the right direction.
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Save the Planet: Reduce
When we initially think about how to help to protect the planet, we think about recycling. But before we get there, consider reducing the number of things we use and buy, to begin with. While we are just beginning our low-waste journey, I have felt pulled toward making changes in the way we live and reducing our carbon footprint.
5 Simple and Easy Tips for Reducing Waste
Instead of using plastic grocery bags, bring your own reusable bags.
Believe it or not, you do not have to put produce in those little plastic produce bags. Consider mesh bags and if you do use the plastic one, rinse them out and reuse them the next time you go.
If you have a store near you that sells dry goods and oils in bulk, bring mason jars. Mason jars can be pretty expensive. The next time you get ready to throw away the glass jar your spaghetti sauce came in, wash and save it instead.
Also, buy from your local farmer’s market to reduce the amount of plastic waste and support local farmers/gardeners, while getting healthier produce.
2. Start using a stainless steel or glass water bottle instead of plastic.
Investing in a good water filter is a great way to reduce the number of plastic water bottles going to waste and is actually healthier than drinking the toxic chemicals that leach into plastic water bottles. The Berkey Water Filter is highly recommended among the sustainable living community.
3. Buy second-hand before buying new.
From clothing to household items, before buying new, consider buying second-hand. Buying or receiving second-hand clothing for children is an easy change considering how messy children are and how quickly they grow. ThredUP is a great online consignment shop and pretty easy to navigate if traditional thrifting overwhelms you.
Moving soon and wanting to downsize? Consider letting family and friends know and tagging items in the home that they are welcome to have. On the flip side, you can also ask family and friends that are moving if they have anything they don’t want to keep.
4. Start composting your food scraps.
Composting has been such a fascinating aspect of low-waste and zero-waste living to me. As complicated as it might seem initially, composting is actually pretty simple and really cool.
Right now I simply toss our produce scraps, eggshells, dead leaves, and cardboard in a pile outside near the garden. Make sure that when you are composting, you have a combination of green organic matter (produce scraps, lawn clippings, etc.), brown organic matter (dead leaves, twigs, and/or manure), moisture, bacteria, and oxygen (so flip and toss your compost every so often).
Definitely take some time to learn more about composting and you’ll always look at food scraps differently.
5. Instead of using single use paper products, use cloth instead.
Paper towels and toilet paper are hugely wasteful. Although we don’t personally use cloth for our bums (yet, hehe), I have reduced the number of paper towels we waste by using kitchen towels and microfiber cloths to dry my hands and wipe down countertops.
A good way to keep yourself motivated is to include your kids on your journey to low waste. My five-year-old will happily remind me to use the kitchen towel instead of wasting a sheet of paper towel.
Now, I know you’re thinking, ew, I am not getting rid of my toilet paper. And, you don’t have to. But I would encourage you to do a YouTube search and watch how simple it can be. Removing the stigma is hard. My husband definitely gave me a side-eye look when I mentioned not using as much toilet paper, ha. Maybe give a bidet a try.
Save the Planet: Reuse
So, when reducing isn’t an option, consider reusing before tossing out. Many of the tips I shared above can also apply here. This is a great option when beginning a journey to simple and low-waste living to help save the planet.
5 Simple and Easy Tips for Reusing
1. Crafting with loose parts (bottle caps, cardboard shipping boxes, etc.)
Tap into your inner child and re-imagine those bottle caps and cardboard boxes as crafting material and loose parts before throwing them away.
2. Save your carry-out containers and glass jars.
Reusing your carry-out food containers is a good way to get as much use out of the item before tossing. Do not heat food in a plastic container as it will leak toxic chemicals into your food.
My favorite way to source glass jars is to reuse the ones my regular grocery items come in, for example jarred pasta sauce.
3. Switch to rechargeable batteries.
If you are regularly using batteries, I highly recommend switching to rechargeable batteries. Recycle the old batteries.
4. Consider toys that are made of natural materials over plastic.
When it comes to our kids, we can accumulate a ton of toys. Whether they be gifts from family and friends or the toys we buy, most are plastic and end up in landfills. Read my blog post on the benefits of having fewer toys and where you can buy quality, natural and wooden toys.
5. Reimagine what you already own (furniture, frames, etc.).
I use to be obsessed with the HGTV show Flea Market Flip. Often times we toss our old furniture and household items and buy new ones. I am so guilty of this. I have a creative brain (actually we all do) and that means I am constantly reimagining our spaces.
Instead of buying more, it is a great idea to walk around the home and see if you have what you’re looking to buy new. Consider painting an old piece to breathe new life into it. Think upcycle, reuse, and repair.
Save the Planet: Recycle
Although recycling is usually the first thing that comes to mind when we think of being environmentally friendly, it is actually not the best way to save the planet. Focusing on reducing waste and consumerism in the first place is more sustainable and responsible.
Reusing what has already been produced may just have more of a positive impact than sending things into the recycling system which still creates a demand for the production of new products.
However, as a last resort, recycle when possible when reducing and reusing is not a reasonable option.
What is one swap you can make now that would reduce the amount of waste you produce?
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