- Reducing, reusing, and composting creates 10 times the number of jobs as waste disposal.
- It takes 20 times less energy to make an aluminum can from recycled materials than from raw materials.
- More than $31 billion of food is wasted every year.
From protecting the environment to saving money or wanting to avoid toxins and chemicals in cleaners, plastics, or processed foods, there are a host of reasons to go waste-free.
But going waste-free is more in-depth than some realize. It involves not only removing plastics from your daily life and thinking about how you prepare, store, and discard food waste, but also a shift in mentality to a more minimalist lifestyle.
Some successful waste-free converts have managed to reduce their waste to just one mason jar-full per year. These tips can help you get started on your waste-free journey.
10. Get rid of plastic
It's more difficult than one may think to eliminate plastic all together. A good start is moving to reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, rather than disposable plastic bottles and cups.
Also, introduce reusable cloth, canvas, pr mesh shopping bags to grocery runs, and invest in beeswax wraps to replace cling wrap or aluminum foil.
The most difficult items to avoid are pre-packaged foods such as berries or lettuce in clamshells and items with plastic labels and stickers. Farmers markets are the best bet for avoiding plastic packaging on produce.
9. Lose the paper, too
It's time to ditch the paper towels and tissues and opt for more eco-friendly options, like absorbable Swedish cloths made from wood cellulose and cotton, good-quality woven dish towels, and even handkerchiefs for tending to runny noses or messy faces.
8. Buy secondhand first
If you need to replace something, always try to find a pre-owned item first rather than buying new.
Shopping in thrift stores can save you money and saves the environment because new resources are not being used to make them.
For an even more frugal option, check out community swaps or repair cafés to keep items from the landfill.
Most people tend to live with excess, and removing the clutter and unecessary items from your home will help you embody the minimalist approach to life.
Donate clothes, books, toys, and other unneeded items to charity.
It also extends to shopping - if you're out and about and see something you like or want, take a moment to consider whether you really need it, or if it will add clutter to your home.
6. Make it yourself
There are recipes out there for everything from household cleaners to deodorant, toothpaste, sunscreen, bug spray, skin products, and makeup.
These cheaper alternatives help save the environment by reducing production and keeping containers from everyday products from the landfill. Not to mention the peace of mind from knowing exactly which ingredients are in your products.
5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse
Using less will come naturally as part of the minimalist lifestyle. Reusing may take some getting used to - finding alternate purposes for items like cleaning out glass jars to fill with other food items or storage, or sewing old pillowcases or shirts into produce and shopping bags.
Expand the recycling game to include everything, including batteries, light bulbs, ink cartridges, electronics.
Refuse is the toughest one to get behind. It means turning down anything you don't need - straws at the drive-thru, plastic cutlery when eating out, giveaways like pens or pins at conferences and other events, business cards, and plastic bags.
4. Minimize food waste
It's easier to create less waste if proper planning is done. Make a menu and shopping list for the week and purchase only what will be consumed, and freeze anything that may not be eaten right away, including leftovers or food scraps to be repurposed into something else (oatmeal for cookies, carrot and celery ends for soup stock).
3. Buy in bulk
This is where the glass jars come in handy. Purchase things like flour, sugar, lentils, pasta, rice, granola, oatmeal, and dried fruit in bulk and store it in jars at home.
Most bulk stores don't mind shoppers using their own containers rather than filling the plastic bags provided.
2. Bring your own food
Quitting the takeout habit can save money and reduce your environmental footprint.
By taking the time to make your own breakfast and lunch rather than stopping for food on the go, the amount of plastic cutlery and disposable packaging is reduced.
At minimum, bring utensils or even plates along to avoid adding to plastic waste.
The greatest impact and most effective first step is to begin composting. Keep a small countertop waste bin ready to collect scraps while cooking or after a meal, and begin a garden compost.
Some communities even have drop-off locations for people to discard their compostable materials if they don't have an outdoor compost pile.