With the increasing amount of waste in landfills, many people have started opting for a little- or no-waste lifestyle. Having just a mason jar’s worth of trash for an entire year may seem like an intimidating feat, but there are small ways in which you can start to produce less waste.
It’s actually easy to replace disposable products in our daily lives without much effort. Like any habit, it just takes a little change in how we approach things, and after a while, it will become second nature.
Changing the course of how we live daily can cost a few dollars upfront, but in the long run, you will often save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
1. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
From cloth bags to oil cloth to durable plastic-lined fabric ones, reusable grocery bags are everywhere these days. They’re colorfully designed, stylish, and very affordable.
Keep a stash in your car at all times so that when you’re at the grocery store, you don’t need to use their disposable plastic bags, which end up in ditches, waterways, landfills, and in our precious oceans.
Reusable bags are also great for carrying items in for an overnight stay somewhere, to use as a beach bag, or to carry your lunch in. Their uses are endless, and we can bet you’ll use them more than just at the grocery store.
2. Carry Reusable Water Bottles
Are you still buying plastic water bottles? It’s time to stop.
Just like disposable grocery store bags, plastic bottles end up in our waterways, and take years to decompose in our landfills. While they are recyclable, it’s best to just lower the consumption of those bottles and take a new route.
Stainless steel bottles are a popular and stylish choice. They’re washable and don’t hold onto smells should you decide to fill it with something else such as juice or iced coffee.
If the quality of your city water is something that concerns you, invest in a water filtration system. This way, you can fill up your water bottle before you leave the house.
It goes without saying that if you avoid buying bottles of water on the go, you’ll save more than a few bucks, too.
3. Bring Your Own Coffee Cup
It’s so tempting to head out and stop at your favorite coffee spot to grab a cappuccino to go. But have you really considered how much you’re spending, and the disposable cups that go along with it?
If you absolutely must have a to-go coffee, then bring your own coffee shop sized to-go cup. They come in stainless steel, glass, and silicon. Some coffee shops may even give you a discount for bringing your own cup.
If you can break this habit, make a coffee before you leave the house and keep it in your reusable coffee cup. If you’ll be out all day, consider buying a thermos to fill with boiling water and keep a little stash of creamer, tea bags, and instant coffee in your drink kit.
4. Opt for Cloth Napkins
Cloth napkins are my non-negotiable at the dinner table. They are also packed into my kids’ lunches when they go to school.
There is something so simple and lovely about using cotton or linen to wipe your mouth during and after a meal, knowing that it will be used again and again without waste.
Resist the temptation to use paper towels or disposable napkins at dinner. Using cloth can not only reduce your recycling stack and landfill contribution, but it will up the vibe of your dinners and save you money on napkins in the long run.
They don’t require much in terms of keeping clean, and can be thrown into the washing machine with t-shirts and jeans. This is truly one way to both reduce your waste and create a nice new addition to your nightly dinner.
5. Clean with Cotton Rags
How many rolls of paper towels do you and your family use each week? When it comes to cleaning and wiping down countertops and tables, resist the urge to keep tearing off sheets of paper towels and opt for washable, reusable cotton rags.
There are great rags to buy on the market such as pure cotton cloth baby diapers. It won’t take long for this investment to start saving you money.
But if you want to be even more economical and eco-friendly, cut up some old cotton t-shirts to use. Just like with cloth napkins, you can toss them into the washing machine with your regular wash.
6. Switch Out Disposable Sandwich Bags
There are a several options out there when it comes to packing your lunch in an eco-friendly way. Reusable food containers come in every shape and size, and reusable sandwich bags and food wraps are widely available as well.
While you’re at it, switch out your plastic or paper sack for a reusable lunch bag or box. Lunch bags and boxes come in a variety of chic, sophisticated options, and many are insulated so your lunch can stay cool without being squeezed into your crowded office fridge.
7. Carry a Reusable Straw
Many of us have seen what straws can do to the environment, particularly to sea life, when plastic straws end up in our landfills and oceans. Reusable straws are small and inexpensive, so it’s easy to purchase a few and carry one around with you. Many of these straws fold or collapse and fit into their own carrying case that you can add to your key chain.
Making small changes to your everyday habits can create a big change in your carbon footprint and save you a lot of money. Try one of these reusable replacements to disposable products, or find your own to try! You’ll see your waste production decrease in no time.