Green Living: Reducing Waste

Categories: Green Tips

Resolutions aren’t easy. We ask ourselves to make drastic and difficult changes. It’s all for our own good of course, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

So if you resolved to be more green in 2013, we want to help you get started. In this article, we’ll be looking at three ways to reduce waste in the New Year.

Donations vs. Trash
Before you throw something out, ask yourself if it can be donated. This obviously doesn’t apply to actual garbage, but it does apply to a surprising number of things.

Traditional charities – like Goodwill – accept everything from books to old electronics to clothes. That takes care of a lot of potential waste, but we can do more than that.

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores take almost anything that can be used to build affordable housing for others: furniture, appliances, cabinets, insulation, light fixtures, hinges, piping, toilets, flooring materials, and more.

So whether you’re cleaning out a closet or planning a renovation, load up the car with donations rather than filling up the bin with trash.

Permanent vs. Disposable
There are a lot of disposable items in our lives – coffee cups, grocery bags, paper towels – which are all very convenient. Unfortunately, that convenience comes at the cost of tons of trash and pollution.

This year, try to find some permanent solutions for these disposables. Buy a travel mug for your coffee (a lot of coffee shops will fill it up for you). Get cotton towels instead of paper towels. Use cloth bags at the grocery store.

Simple vs. Packaged
There are boxes, wrappers, linings, shrink wrap, wrappers inside plastic trays, plastic wrap inside plastic bags inside boxes – food packaging can get ridiculous pretty quickly.

Of course, some packaging is necessary for food safety, but a lot of it is just for convenience. It’s important to be conscious of packaging while shopping and to choose food that produces as little waste as possible. For example, don’t buy bags of salad, buy the actual head of lettuce. Don’t buy pre-sliced cheeses, individual yogurt cups or single-serving food in general. Buy certain food in bulk, if that makes sense for your eating habits, to avoid lots of extra packaging and trips to the store.

Sure, this means you’ll end up spending a little more time on food preparation, but you’ll avoid pointless waste and be eating fresher, healthier food that often tastes better.

Hopefully these waste-reduction tips will help you out with your green resolution. If you need more help, remember to check out these articles from pima.gov and the Harrow Council!