09 Jan New Year, New Sustainable You
5 Simple Ways to Waste Less in 2021 (And Beyond)
Each new year ushers in a feeling of freshness and hope, like this might finally be the year you crush those resolutions. It’s a tremendous rush and a great time to try to make the changes that can have a huge impact.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably begun to realize just how much waste you’re creating. EPA statistics from 2018 say that the average American creates roughly 4.4 pounds of trash EVERY DAY. Facts like this coupled with dire warnings about the state of our environment have many people wading into the zero waste pool.
Which is completely AWESOME. We need you and whatever you can bring to the table. Zero waste can feel a little intimidating at first, but don’t let that deter you. Start with the basics and continue to make changes wherever and however you can. As Anne Marie Bonneau, a zero waste chef & blogger, once said, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Without further ado, we give you 5 simple ways to reduce waste TODAY.
Bring your own EVERYTHING. While most of us are keeping it pretty close to home these days, the easy change of a reusable water bottle or coffee mug can quickly make a huge difference in your waste creation, especially once we are commuting more.
Already a happily hydrated bottle owner who’s looking to take their game to the next level? Check out reusable sandwich bags like Stashers! They are amazing, easy to clean and just one can replace the equivalent of 500 little baggies.
- Save H2O
Did you know that less than 1% of all water on planet earth is potable? That means the water that we use is special, precious, and should be treated as such. In the US alone, 95% of water goes down the drain. The average household faucet installed post 1990 uses roughly 1 – 1.5 gallons per minute. This fact is pretty alarming considering ⅓ of the world’s population lives in areas affected by water shortages.
Below are a bunch of simple tips to easily conserve water as you go about your everyday life. Also, it should create some savings on your water bill!
- Turn the faucet off when not actively using the water. 20 seconds of water running pours about ¼ – ½ gallon down the drain. Where could you turn off for a second or two? How about when you’re:
o Soaping up your hands for washing
o Washing or rinsing the dishes
o Brushing your teeth
- Run the dishwasher and clothes washer only when full
- Fix leaky faucets – One leaky faucet can waste up to 180 gallons of water per week!
- Landscaping – consider rainwater harvesting on your property! Our region gets a lot of rain, why not use it? Most townships offer rain barrels at a discount to help residents. Another benefit is that your indoor plants GREATLY prefer rainwater to your tap water.
- Delete emails
Did you know one spam email equals 0.3 grams of carbon in the atmosphere? Crazy right? So here is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint, declutter your life, and help the environment. Toss your built-up spam emails, old emails and promo e-mails in the can.
And click that unsubscribe button like there’s no tomorrow.
Tedious as it is, cleaning up your emails will feel DELICIOUS. Interested in learning more about this? Check out a cool article here
- Buy local produce
You may not know that every piece of produce you see in your supermarket has already been on an odyssey to arrive there. In addition to being picked, selected, shipped, unpacked & unloaded, most produce, either organic or conventional, will travel an average of 1500 miles before it reaches the grocery store, losing nutrients as it goes. This is a huge issue, creating tons of waste & emissions throughout our food chain.
Buying from local farms & farmers markets not only support the growers in your region, but ensure your food is fresh & chock full of nutrients. It also usually comes with no or very little packaging, making it easier to avoid a pile up of plastic bags. Side note – it also helps to eat what’s seasonally available where you live. Many of us end up eating things like strawberries all year because we love them, but the truth is they come from further and further away when they are out of season, losing nutrients and flavor.. So try to eat the locally grown rainbow instead!
- Meal Planning
The best way to reduce food waste is to plan out your meals. Whether it’s a rigid plan or a loose outline, it will help to ensure you don’t end up with spoiled food. If you know what you need for the week and don’t buy too many extras, you usually avoid having too much leftover.
Use scraps and leftovers for stews & stocks & smoothies (and anything you can think of that doesn’t start with an “S”) to ensure you are not wasting food whenever possible. But if you do have to toss a few things, you should check out our bonus option.
*surprise surprise* – COMPOST!!!
Composting is nature’s way of recycling the valuable nutrients in your food waste back into the soil. When you compost, you help in two ways. First, you ensure food scraps are not sent to landfills, where they cannot biodegrade due to lack of oxygen. Organic materials like banana peels in a landfill end up breaking down anaerobically and releasing methane gas. Today, roughly 23% of municipal solid waste is food waste, making it the single largest category of waste being sent to our landfills. Second, you take the nutrients and convert them into compost, a nutrient dense fertilizer that helps to improve soil structure, reduce erosion and grow more healthy plants.
Phew – okay, we’ll stop there. There are probably 50 more ideas just like this that can help all of us move towards a more sustainable future. In fact, if you have a cool idea, feel free to share below.
Our challenge to each of you is to start somewhere and begin your journey to wasting less. It will look different for everyone, so we recommend doing what works for you.
Together, doing our own imperfect best to waste less, we can make a difference.🙌