The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average American generates nearly 4.5 pounds of trash on a daily basis, more than half of which goes to a landfill.
If you’re looking to reduce your net trash output with the ultimate goal of joining the zero-waste movement, there are a variety of small steps you can take today.
Start by not bringing any items into your house that you don’t need. This includes company giveaways, such as a promotional tote bag from a work conference, free pens that make their way into your hands, plastic bobblehead figures from the ballpark and plastic utensils that come with your takeout order.
Buying fewer things will ultimately save you money. Before buying new clothing, electronics, home appliances or anything else, ask yourself if you truly need it.
Reduce your reliance on single-use items such as plastic water bottles, individual yogurt cups and disposable plastic razors. When you do buy something, take advantage of reusable canvas grocery bags.
You can also lower the thermostat in your home and lower your energy usage, plan meals each week so that less food is wasted, and take advantage of public transportation so that you use your car less.
Picking up a new skill such as sewing can help you repair some of your clothes and give them a longer life. If there are too many holes in a shirt to repair, use it as a rag instead of using paper towels. Reusing items for something other than their original purpose is a chance to get creative and see just how far you can go.
If you’re already recycling, you may be able to take your efforts up a notch. Recycling is a great way to properly dispose of something you no longer use so that it can be turned into something usable again.
Beyond cans and bottles, many items can be recycled. In fact, household appliances, batteries and old toys can be responsibly recycled or given away for free for others to use.