Simple ways to reduce waste

“Try to leave the Earth a better place than when you arrived.”

Sidney Sheldon

You may not go “zero-waste minimalist” overnight, but implementing these changes will help reduce your everyday waste.

1. Try to recycle as much as possible

Simply familiarizing yourself with local recycling rules is the first step! Whole Foods recycles yogurt containers which aren’t normally recyclable in NYC.

2. Carry reusable bags

A few sturdy bags will make carrying groceries more comfortable. If that’s even possible. And now some stores give you a small discount for every plastic bag not used.

3. Repurpose plastic bags

Never throw out a plastic bag. Do I really have to say this? I use mine as garbage bags for mini garbages I have, and for pretty much anything that needs to be carried…

4. Shop in the bulk section

This is usually cheaper, and reduces packaging waste.

5. Repurpose produce/ bulk plastic bags

Instead of throwing away the plastic bags for your bulk items, try using them for picking up dog poop, as a convenient mini garbage in front of you for food prep, or as a garbage bag for a small garbage.

6. Avoid wasting food

Be mindful about food waste! Also familiarize yourself about what is edible. For example, broccoli stalks can be used in soups if you only want to eat the florets.

7. Beeswax wrap instead of plastic

I eat a lot of apples. I pre-slice them for lunches and I hated throwing away tinfoil after one use. So far my Bee’s Wrap Assorted 3 Pack, Eco Friendly Reusable Food Wraps, Sustainable Plastic Free Food Storage, Honeycomb Print – 1 Small, 1 Medium, 1 Large have been working out really well! Just wash and dry after each use.

8. Use no straws/ metal straws

I love bubble tea enough to make it at home. I felt bad every time I wasted straws. After washing plastic ones for awhile, I decided to invest in metal straws.

2 BOBA Straw Stainless Steel Extra Wide 1/2″ x 9.5″ Long Tapioca Pearl Bubble Tea Thick FAT – CocoStraw Brand

SipWell Stainless Steel Drinking Straws, Set of 4, Free Cleaning Brush Included

9. Carry a reusable water bottle

Good for the environment and a great money saver.

10. Loose leaf tea

It tends to taste better anyway. Think about the industrial process to get tea into bags. Too inconvenient for you? I order empty tea bags and pre bag my favorite loose tea. When I can, I try to just use a metal sieve. “Paper” tea bags have to have a small amount of plastic to keep it from dissolving in the tea water.

Modern Tea Filter Bags, Disposable Tea Infuser, Size 2, Set of 100 Filters – Heat Sealable, Natural, Easy to Use Anywhere, No Cleanup – Perfect for Teas, Coffee & Herbs – from Magic Teafit

11. No disposable cutlery

Imagine how many people are ordering take out right now. Now imagine they were all given plastic cutlery. That’s a lot of plastic. Taking a regular fork with your packed lunch, or even just in your bag for take out will save so much plastic.

Spork Set 4 | Reusable Durable Sporks Plastic | Best for Camping Out Doors | School/Lunch Pack/Work & FREE Carry Case!! | BPA Free | Spoon + Fork + Knife Combo! | Spork Knife | By iBetterhomes

12. Use matches instead of lighters

Mmm fire. Biodegradable fire please. None of this plastic and gas nonsense. When at all possible. Don’t go crazy carrying matches, but when you’re home try to use them instead of a lighter.

13. Pack lunch in reusable containers

Finding a cute container helps!

14. Stop unwanted mail

Do you even read your junk mail? Probably not. Do yourself and the environment a favor as spend an hour unsubscribing from unwanted mail.

15. Avoid single serving coffee machines

John Sylvan, creator of the Keurig K-cup: “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” Sylvan said. “The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers.”

16. Buy ebooks or audiobooks

Unless you reeeeally need the hard copy, try going digital.

17. Soap bars and shampoo bars

They tend to have less chemicals which is a win for you and the environment. Little to no packaging is another bonus.

My favorite shampoo bar:Organic Natural Shampoo Bar, Ayurvedic Herb 2X Pack, Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve

Baby steps!

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  1. If you want to go a little farther with waste reduction with tea drinking, rather than using disposable tea filters, I recommend using a reusable basket infuser or tea ball. My favorite is this one from ForLife, it’s not the cheapest but in my experience it’s the best; I’ve had mine for well over 3 years and it’s easy to clean and shows little wear, it’s pretty much like the day I bought it.


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