The average American throws out 4.4 pounds of trash per day. That figure may not seem immediately overwhelming, but if we consider there are 328.2 million people in the U.S. tossing trash every day, the issue is quickly put into perspective. So how can eco-minded individuals reduce the amount of waste they produce? One solution is by embracing a zero-waste lifestyle.
Zero-waste doesn’t mean creating absolutely no waste. It means making conscious decisions as consumers to actively reduce the amount of waste we produce. It’s more about the journey than it is about the destination.
Reducing the waste output of your home is a great first step toward going zero-waste. Here are five easy tips to begin with:
- Be mindful of how you store your food.
Most people bag produce in plastic and buy pre-packaged veggies without a second thought. To add insult to injury, many items then end up going into ziploc bags or other plastic storage containers in the refrigerator at home. This leads to tons of single-use plastic being needlessly discarded into our environment. Instead of reaching for the plastic next time you store your goods, try using Earth-friendly, reusable beeswax bags or glass containers, like mason jars. You can fill the jars with nuts, dried fruit, coffee beans and other loose items dispensed at supermarkets.
- Replace single-use / disposable items for reusable ones.
We use tons of single-use and disposable items every day without really realizing it. Plastic water bottles and straws are the usual offenders; you can swap those out with aluminum bottles and metal straws. To take it a step further, try finding alternatives for things like paper towels, sponges, and plastic cutlery.
- Start a compost bin.
76 billion pounds of food from American households are dumped into landfills every year, where they contribute to the production of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. You can avoid sending your food scraps to the dump by composting them instead. Kitchen compost bins range from around $20 to upwards of $45, depending on which size you’re looking for, and are usually pretty minimal to blend in with your kitchen counter.
- Invest in package-free toiletries.
Shampoo, body wash, soaps, toothpaste — all of these items are often packaged in plastic, which ends up in landfill and recycling centers. Luckily, you can find package-free bar soaps, shampoos, and even toothpaste in tablet form to help keep your waste production down. Check out the Package Free Shop or LUSH cosmetics for a great selection of items like these!
- Use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.
Not only do dryer sheets contribute to landfill after a single use, they’re also full of synthetic chemicals that are potentially hazardous to human health. Wool dryer balls, on the other hand, are completely natural, chemical-free, and can be used again and again without producing waste. And by adding a few drops of essential oils to the dryer balls, your laundry will radiate with a fresh, natural scent.