Simple Techniques for Cutting Back on Waste at Home
Every person in the United States throws away 4.4 pounds of trash daily. It includes food waste, plastic waste, and e-waste. Solid waste is any garbage, sludge or other discarded material that results from residential, industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural activities. Solid waste management reduces carbon emissions, decreases flood risks, and helps preserve natural resources, among many other benefits.
Recycling is a great way to ensure your trash doesn’t take up landfill space for years. Materials are sent to facilities for recycling, where they are transformed back into their original forms or raw materials that can be used to make new goods. Doing so reduces the need to grow, harvest, or extract new raw materials from our dwindling natural resources. It helps to preserve and protect animals’ natural habitats, forests, and rainforests, as well as our oceans and waterways. While recycling is a great practice, it is important to remember that it is not a cure-all for our planet’s problems. Recycling is most effective when combined with other sustainable practices like composting, reducing waste, and using green energy.
It’s also crucial to be aware of your city’s recycling regulations, as many restrict what can go in the recycling container. Things like greasy pizza boxes, plastic-lined coffee cups, and old lids can contaminate an entire load of recyclables and cause them to be sent to the garbage dump instead. By hiring a residential solid waste collection, you can be confident that all the trash is handled legally and responsibly while transported. Additionally, it is important to support the local economy by purchasing items made from recycled materials. It will ensure that your purchase is making a difference in your community by creating jobs and reducing the need for companies to source raw materials locally.
People send over a thousand pounds of everyday trash to landfills and incinerators yearly. This waste pollutes the environment with dangerous toxins and greenhouse gases and consumes energy, water, natural resources and labor that could be better used elsewhere. Many of the things thrown away in a typical household can be composted: fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells (if not plastic), paper napkins, shredded office paper, sawdust, wood shavings, and some plant pruning waste. Microorganisms decompose these organic materials, creating a rich soil amendment that helps plants grow. Invest in a good quality composting bin if you’re serious about reducing household waste. If you don’t have space for a chest, keep a large container under your sink to collect kitchen scraps until you can transfer them to your outdoor compost pile. You can use a stainless steel bucket or an old ice cream pail, but add a carbon filter or ceramic model to reduce odors. Avoid putting any items in your compost that are not compostable, like meat, fish, dairy or oils, as these will introduce toxins to the soil. Also, don’t put anything in your compost that can’t decompose – such as glass or metals, which should be recycled. To keep your compost safe, regularly mix the contents to aerate the pile, prevent anaerobic pockets, and stir the material to sift out weeds and pests.
The second of the “3 R”s, reusing, is the act of using an item over and over again in its original form. Reusing things can also help preserve some or all of the materials, energy and resources that went into their initial creation. Buying reusable serving utensils and trays instead of disposable items, using cloth napkins and dishes instead of paper ones, fastening old bedsheets into reusable bags for grocery shopping, reusing a travel coffee mug at the office or baking homemade cookies for gifts that will avoid packaging waste are just a few examples. Unlike recycling, which requires that an item be cleaned, melted and restructured before it can be used again, reusing items cuts down on the need for all of that additional energy, cost and material. Limit using single-use plastics (like resealable plastic storage bags), paper towels and disposable wipes by purchasing microfibre cloths to wash and reuse. Bring a reusable lunch container and mug to the office, take a reusable bag with you when you go shopping and consider donating unwanted items to thrift shops or swap meets for others to use. Remember never to put hard or fibrous items like seeds, corn cobs, bones, egg shells and flower stems down your garbage disposal – they can damage the unit and may result in costly repairs. Also, don’t dump contaminated motor oil down the drain, as it pollutes waterways and causes oily stains on driveways.
It may sound counterintuitive, but reducing waste is the best way to help the environment. Trash is harmful because it pollutes the air with hazardous toxins, releases greenhouse gases and destroys wildlife habitats. It costs money and natural resources to collect, transport and dispose of. So, if you can’t completely live a zero-waste lifestyle, try making small changes in your home to reduce the amount of trash you produce. For example, make a meal plan before you grocery shop. It’s a surefire way to avoid buying too much food that will spoil before you eat it. If there are any leftovers, freeze them. Reusable silicone food storage bags are an excellent alternative for this.
Also, instead of throwing away paper plates and plastic utensils after eating out, bring along a locking glass container to take your food home waste-free. You can save packaging, egg cartons and colored paper for arts and crafts projects. Composting your food leftovers is an additional technique to reduce waste. It will improve your garden soil with nutrients and lessen the garbage dumped in landfills, where it rots and emits methane gas. Finally, instead of using disposable razors and plastic floss, switch to a metal or bamboo toothbrush, and use wet wipes for baby butts (there are many options for wet wipes made from cotton, microfiber, or cloth). And don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottle when you buy coffee on the go!