You want to slash the trash in your life, but you don’t know where to begin. I mean, how are we supposed to navigate the labyrinth of trash that enters our lives on a daily basis?
While it may seem difficult, just know that you don’t need to slash all your trash in one fell swoop. Making any life change takes time, and the same goes for reducing your waste – including what goes in your recycling bin. That’s why we’ve put together this list to help you get started.
And, while we can all do our parts individually, it’s also important to remember that our trash problem is not your fault. Your actions alone will not solve our trash crisis. Long-term solutions can only be accomplished by changing how products are designed and packaged, as well as how our waste is managed overall – and you have a role to play in these efforts, too. Check out our bonus tip for more details!
Slash Trash at Home, in the Office, and in Your Community
- Buy package-free food and body-care products to cut the amount of packaging that winds up in landfills or incinerators. You can find package-free items at grocery stores, personal and homecare shops, and buy-in-bulk retailers.
- Instead of using single-use take-out utensils for lunch, bring your own reusable set to the office (and pack them with your kids’ lunches, too!).
- Swap out plastic body-care items like toothbrushes, cotton swabs, and shower loofahs for ones that are more sustainable and plastic-free. Your local grocery store and personal-care shops likely carry some of these alternatives. You can also check out options online.
- When ordering coffee from your favorite shop, bring a reusable mug or thermos for the barista to refill instead of getting a single-use to-go cup. You may even get a discount on your morning pick-me-up!
- Redesign your space with fewer surfaces for junk to go on – minimal surfaces mean less clutter, and less clutter lowers waste.
- Make school and office supplies last longer. Swap out staples for paper clips. Replace the ink when your pen runs out. Use a laptop or smart tablet for taking notes.
- Trade plastic wrap for reusable beeswax wraps. Usually made from organic cotton, beeswax wraps are even compostable. You can find beeswax wraps at your local grocery or kitchen supply store.
- Rather than using disposable k-cups for your morning coffee, brew an entire pot for your family or your colleagues. This helps cut back on plastic waste, and you can even compost the coffee grounds and filters.
- Instead of using paper towels – which aren’t recyclable – turn your old clothes, cloth towels, and linens into reusable rags.
- Build a zero-waste kit to keep in your car, backpack, or briefcase so you’re always prepared to go zero waste on the run!
Making these changes in your life is a great step towards slashing your personal waste, but a zero-waste lifestyle alone is not a long-term solution to our trash crisis. We need systemic changes – meaning modernizing recycling, introducing reuse services, and setting up composting programs – and we have the tools in place right now to make that happen.
While our trash problem is not your fault, you are the solution. Together, we need to call on our legislators to shut down old, outdated incinerators and landfills that are poisoning our communities. We need to urge them to take action against single-use products that are polluting our environment. Our collective voices can create change and move us towards clean, sustainable, zero-waste systems.
Our bonus tip is this: use your voice to advocate for change. It’s not enough to slash trash in your own life. We need to change the conversation around trash, and that starts by advocating for zero-waste systems.