China and the U.S. are the world’s largest producers of waste. It has been predicted that household waste will rise from its current 1.3 billion tons to 2.2 billion by 2025. With this increase, the amount it would cost to manage it yearly would rise from $205 billion to $375 billion. Here in the U.S., the average American produces about 4.5 pounds of trash per day. That’s 160 pounds per week for the average family of 5! This is why it’s so important to begin making small changes in your own garbage habits.
There are several things that you can do to lessen your garbage output. While it may not seem like much, imagine how much garbage that family of 5 could save over the years if they all took part in these simple solutions! If each person cut his or her garbage output by a quarter, that’s just over a pound per person per day, which equates to 35 less pounds per week. That’s about 1,820 pounds a year! Now, if that family could get their neighbors on the bandwagon, just imagine the amount that could be saved.
Are you ready to start becoming a part of the garbage solution? Follow these simples steps and watch your garbage output decrease.
- There are garbage-concious manufacturers who are beginning to make products with less packaging. When choosing one brand over another, choose the one with less packaging. Also, check out your store’s bulk bins. Many stores have some wheat products, rices, beans, nuts, candies, and more in bins. You can measure out what you want in your own reusable bag or bin, instead of buying these things packed in plastic.
- Use reusable grocery bags. This is a very simple way to reduce the amount of plastic bags you throw into the trash. Keep them in your vehicle, so that you don’t have to remember to grab them at home. They also sell biodegradable trash bags, which are worth a try.
- Do you pack a lunch for yourself or your kids? Stop using plastic sandwich bags. Instead, use reusable sandwich-size containers for sandwiches, small containers for snacks like trail mix, and a thermos for any beverages. If you use a sandwich bag almost every day, this simple step will take hundreds of those bags out of your trash! Also, use containers around your home and kitchen where you’d usually use containers. While you probably still need large plastic freezer bags, these can be washed and reused.
- Don’t use paper plates and plasticware. We can all remember a family gathering where there was a big trash bag set up for our paper plates and plasticware. Keeping that huge bag or two out of the landfill is huge! Buy lightweight reusable plastic dishes that will be easy for you to wash. If you must get plasticware, get the compostable kind.
- Recycle everything you possibly can. Be vigilant about noticing when something is recyclable. If you have a bunch of plastic bags around, bring them to a place that accepts them for recycling. If you see someone throw a can into the trash, move it to the recycling bin (at your own discretion…no dumpster diving necessary).
- Start a compost pile or bin. It’s easier than you think! If you can’t start one, find out if you can collect compostable materials for a friend’s or neighbor’s compost. If you don’t know of one to contribute to, try asking your nearest community garden if they have one. There are many resources online for how to start a compost pile.
- Save energy and save water wherever you can. These don’t contribute directly to your garbage output, but they still count as waste!
- Have a garage sale or donate anything you own that’s still usable that you don’t want. Instead of throwing it away, ask yourself if it’s possible that somebody else would want it or could use it for something. If so, sell it or give it away.
Simple, right? The last step is to share this information with your family and friends. Do your part to make a difference, and encourage others to do the same!
Jolissa D. writes for EnerChange, helping your non-profit organization save money by saving energy at no cost to you.