Finding ways to produce less garbage benefits us all. Throwing items into landfill has a huge environmental cost. It's estimated that every American throws away 4.5 pounds of garbage every day. Much of this ends up in landfill and is left to rot. This damages the soil and harms wildlife. It doesn't do humans much good either. Try these ways to produce less garbage, and cut that 4.5 pounds down drastically …
1. Buy Less
One of the easiest ways to produce less garbage is to simply buy less. Do you really need closets full of clothes and a house full of possessions? Often we buy things that we don't really need, or even want, and end up throwing them away. Think twice before you spend. You'll realise how much you can do without, and save your money as well.
Make use of recycling facilities as much as you can. Many authorities pick up plastic, paper and glass from your home. They also have facilities for everything from batteries to textiles. Check out their website to see if you can recycle an item before resorting to putting it in the garbage. Don't forget to recycle your food scraps - that can make some pretty good compost!
3. Shopping Choices
You can also cut down on the amount of garbage you generate by shopping carefully. Bring less garbage into the home by looking for items with as little packaging as possible. Buying in bulk also saves on packaging, as does not putting everything in bags. See my article on reducing packaging for more tips.
4. Avoid Disposable Items
Disposable items may be convenient, but something that is designed to be thrown away is soon going to help fill up your bin. Look for reusable alternatives wherever possible. Use plastic plates for picnics instead of paper ones, and rechargeable batteries rather than single use ones. Only print out documents if you really need to, and save paper.
Don't automatically throw something out; check first if someone else can use it. Anything that's in good condition can go to Goodwill or another local charity. Clothing, books, household items and toys can either be donated to people on a low income or used to raise funds for the charity.
Clothes can usually be repaired, so get out your needle and thread if a button falls off or a seam rips. If electrical goods break down, try to get them repaired before you dispose of the item. It may be hard to find someone who can fix them, as many items are designed to be difficult to be repaired (so you then have to buy another one). But repairing is always better than replacement - it means that the item won't end up in landfill.
7. Second Life
Before recycling something - and definitely before throwing it away - check if you can make something new with it. There are some amazingly creative ways of giving an unwanted item a second life, often as something completely different. Look at this page for inspiration on what you can turn your unwanted items into.
Everything we do creates garbage, so we all have to take responsibility for cutting down the amount of garbage created, and play our part in helping the environment. Challenge yourself to cut down that 4.5 pounds - see how low you can get your garbage production! What do you do to create less garbage?