The average person produces over 4 pounds of trash a day – that’s about 29 pounds a week, and over 1,600 pounds a year. Seem like a lot? That’s just in the household. When you factor in commercial and manufacturing trash, and any other miscellaneous items of trash production, the average person contributes well over a ton of trash every year. Is this really necessary? We hope not.
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Here are 8 simple steps and strategies to lower that number. By each of us doing so, we can damper landfill waste, help promote a more sustainable lifestyle, and better protect the environment.
It’s an interesting concept, trash , isn’t it? We ‘trash’ things that are no longer useful in anyway – they simply have to be buried or burned. But is that the only option? Of course not! One way to cut down your trash production is to recycle your waste instead. A great majority of the things we throw in the trash can be sorted, composted, or recycled in some other fashion. Before you toss something next time, ask yourself if you can use it again somehow!
2. Cut Down On Food Waste
Food is one of those things most people in America tend to take for granted. After most meals, we throw some food away without a flinch. How can we solve this dilemma – eat smaller portions, organize your shopping, plan your meals, and don’t buy in bulk unless you know you’ll use it before the expiration date. As stated above, any other food waste should be composted.
3. Avoid Single Servings
The packaging needed for single servings of pudding, applesauces, jell-o, juices, and candies adds up quick. Instead, buy these things in their larger containers and use mason jars or other containers to carry them on the go. You’d be surprised on how much less waste you’ll be pumping out!
A lot of the time, people simply toss their old electronics, clothes, or other miscellaneous items into the trash. Not only is this bad for the environment (especially the electronics), but it also bad for anyone trying to be sustainable. See if you can get your items repaired, and if you can, do so and donate them. If it's too expensive, take your waste to the proper disposal plants. Clothes, on the other hand, should always be donated if they’re in good condition (otherwise, you can make reusable bags out of them!).
5. Avoid Paper Towels, Plates, And Plastic Utensils
Use reusable food containers as much as possible, bring a handkerchief, and bring a metal/wood fork whenever possible. You can wrap the dirty for in the handkerchief and then stuff it in the container when you’re done – and viola, no trash.
6. Use Cloth
Following the ideas from above, try to avoid using any 1-time, disposable items. This includes diapers, napkins, sponges, and washcloths. I suggest replacing all your single use items, and then getting a separate bin or bag to toss your used cloths into, making it easy to dump into the washer!
Whenever you can, reuse it. This goes for plastic bags, paper, water bottles (which you shouldn’t use anyways!), and just about anything else. I’m currently using an old vitamin bottle to put my tooth brush in, and before recycling any paper, I always use the backside for notes or brainstorming. Hand-me downs (which I have long been a victim of) are actually a great example of this, so continue to pass things along!
8. Grow Your Own Food!
The last great way to cut down your trash production is to grow your own food. This mean fewer plastic bags at the store, less packaging, and less of a demand for transport and farmland. Start a small organic garden in your backyard and use the compost from your food waste to keep it healthy!
If we all start taking these small steps, we can get our daily average down!