Reducing waste can either be active or passive. You can recycle plastic, or you can refuse to buy items in plastic. You can recycle your aluminum cans, or you can drink water from a reusable cup. The key to living a low waste life is often in the purchase.
Food waste is extremely common in the developed world. To reduce wasting both food and your hard-earned cash, plan your meals around the grocery sale flyer and just buy what you will cook and eat for the week.
While shopping, take a look at your standard buys and try to reduce the plastic per serving. If you buy muffins and bread each week, consider learning to bake your own muffins. There are fewer servings of muffins in a plastic container of six or eight. Additionally, quick breads like muffins and cornbread are quite simple to make and are terrific budget stretchers.
Eat Up Leftovers
Instead of going out for
- a sandwich wrapped in paper
- a salad wrapped in plastic
- a drink in a disposable cup
invest in stainless steel food containers for lunch and load them with a sandwich made the night before, fresh greens, nuts for snacks, and tea bags for an afternoon beverage.
Carry Your Own Bags
If you have a car, create a spot for your reusable shopping bags. As soon as you finish unloading groceries, put them back in the car. If you do get a plastic bag while shopping, save it for pet waste and other garbage.
Another option is to take sturdy boxes in for your larger shopping trips. A big box is easier to manage than a large bag and less likely to tear. A sizable box may also have a lid for security while you run errands and is easy to tape up. When it is ready to fall apart, you can recycle it and find another.
It doesn’t take much space to compost in your backyard. If you live in an apartment, you can build your own worm composter and build a garden for fresh herbs and greens indoors. Never compost meat products or fat. Stick with veggies.
Buy Used and in Bulk
Used items generally don’t come in any packaging at all. You can save on packaging and time if you can shop for clothing, appliances, and linens at:
- thrift stores
- yard sales
- consignment shops
- estate sales
- habitat stores
To save on food packaging waste, buy items that can be stored long-term in bulk. Beans are cheap and can be stored airtight for extended periods of time. Rice can be bought in large packages or in bulk and frozen. For produce, take your reusable bags or your big box to your local farmer’s market.
Use What You Have
Shop your own closet first before you buy. If you hit an estate sale and find a beaded necklace that appeals but is a bit too gaudy, needle-nose pliers are all you need to create several pendants. Top sheets can become curtains. A worn blanket can be a dog bed and old towels can line new potholders made from what you cut off the sheet.
Buying just what you need and no more is the first step to reducing waste. This takes organization and planning. Second-hand stores are a great place to pick up clothes, linens, dishes, and small appliances, as well as a large tote bag to carry home your treasures and use for years to come!