Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reducing Household Waste

Carrie and I have been talking via email about how to reduce our household waste and I wanted to share some of my ideas with you for Works-for-Me Wednesday. You can do some or all of these things and you'll find a huge change in the amount of trash you put out each week. I use these tips personally and our household waste is only about one medium sized (13 gallon trash bag) each week, and very often, it's less.

First, the products I buy are in less packaging or in no packaging, if possible. I also buy things in big bottles or containers, verses single servings (soda, juice, snacks) and invest in some good quality zip.loc bags and water bottles to carry them around in. The bottles and bags can be washed out and used again.

Shopping for products with less packaging is very easy to do in Europe, so you'll have to work a little harder in the States. Take one day when you're not so rushed in shopping and look for these products and purchase them verses their competitors. You can even send them an email thanking them for the minimal packaging and give them tips to reduce their packaging even further. Send emails to the competitors letting them know why you didn't buy their product. (I do a lot of "customer comments" via email or phone myself and they really do listen!) The company I plan to contact this week is Dan.non, specifically about Act.ivia. I love yogurt, especially this brand, but I don't buy it as much as I'd like because of the packaging being so excessive. We often buy big tubs of plain yogurt and mix in fruit. Why don't companies just sell their yogurt in big tubs, as well as individual? This way, those of us who want to be green, could buy the big tubs and dish it out in bowls or put it in small containers when we're on the go.

I also research what numbers are the easiest to recycle in my area. It's often 1, 2, and 4. I buy products that are in those numbered containers so I can recycle. Check this page out to learn more about the labels. I fill two or three recycling bins a week and that's after I rinse out and squeeze the water bottles flat.

Another huge source of waste is paper towels and napkins. For napkins, we use cloth and just wash them every week, or more if they get dirty. For rags, we cut up t-shirts. I use white ones that I can bleach in the wash to clean Love Bug's face or toys and colors for dusting and other cleaning. I have two bags hanging in my pantry. One is labeled clean, one is dirty, and when the "dirty" bag is full, I empty out the rags and clean them all, dry them, and put them back in the clean bag. It's important to do this only when you have a lot of them to wash because running the washer/dryer half full is really wasteful. I do this with clothes and linens as well, and never run a load unless it's full to the top.

To reduce packaging waste in other ways, I buy music and movies digitally. We use iTu.nes but there are a lot of ways to do this. I've also thought of buying a Kind.le or something similar, but for now I just borrow books.

Don't forget about bags- the things you bring all this stuff home in! Take reusable bags or just reuse the ones you already have. I keep plastic bags all balled up inside one and then take them to the grocery store with me and reuse them until they are just a mess. For day to day shopping, I keep two of these in my purse. I like fabric ones for clothes, so they don't get ruined with any food residue. I also love this but know the weight isn't practical for my completely on-foot lifestyle in Rome.

Want some more great tips? Visit Shannon's Works-for-Me Wednesday at Rocks in my Dryer.


*carrie* said...


I really enjoyed this post. Thanks so much for sharing ways that you reduce waste.

Love those bags from the Container Store! I'm seeing cheap (in price and quality) reusable shopping bags popping up all over the place, even here in Iowa!

~Rhen said...

Such a great tip! We started implementing several of these a few weeks ago to reduce our household garbage. It has really worked. We also use cloth diapers so that is less trash as well. Not to mention how much it does for the earth by not putting more of the disposable diapers in the land fills. They do not break down nor do they burn! Yikes!
Thanks for the post. :)

Mom2fur said...

Lately, I've been trying to use cloth napkins as much as possible. They are so much nicer! Target had these linen-like dishcloths on their clearance rack--a bundle of 6for practically nothing. They were HUGE and I didn't like them as dish cloths. But each one made four nice napkins!
I also use cut-up Ts and leftover pieces of flannel from sewing for cleaning and dusting. much nicer!
I do get plastic bags from the store, but only because I need them for the litter box. I use reusable bags, too!

tootie said...

Good tips - thanks so much! I think I will start bringing plastic bags back to the stores to reuse. (I have way too large of a collection of them at home!)

tickledpink.nicole said...

Excellent tips and gentle reminders to Go Green with our planet in peril. Thanks.