Waste Not, Want Not: Tips To Help Your Family Create Less Waste While Getting More Out Of Life

If you are reading this, chances are you have access to recycling services. In fact, according to recent statistics, 87% of all American households have access to either a curbside recycling program through their waste management company or a community recycling center in their local area. This type of access is a very good thing because, as a nation, Americans produce in excess of 200 million tons of trash each year.

While recycling waste materials such as glass, metal, paper and cardboard helps to reduce the burden on the nation's landfills, taking steps to limit or do away with waste when possible can also provide huge environmental benefits. Consumers who make just a few simple changes in the way they obtain and consume food and other resources can help eliminate a substantial amount of excess waste and create additional recycling opportunities. If you would like to reduce the amount of garbage generated in your home, try adopting one or more of the following suggestions.

Consider Purchasing More Servings with Less Packaging

Take a good look at your grocery list to see what changes can be made that will result in bringing less packaging material into your home. For instance, instead of purchasing single serving drinks or ordinary boxes of cereal, choose to purchase powdered drink mixes or frozen concentrates you add to water at home and large, more economical bags of cereal. Not only are you eliminating a considerable amount of packaging that would be thrown away, buying larger quantities often helps the consumer save a significant amount of money on their family's food costs.  

Choose to Utilize Reusable Storage Containers

Vow to stop using plastic bags and wraps for storing foods by choosing to use sturdy, convenient containers such as lidded jars and glass or stainless steel containers with tight fitting lids. Not only will this create less trash in your garbage can, using glass jars and stainless steel containers to store foods are more economical because they can be used over and over. As a bonus, jars take up less space and stay more organized in the refrigerator than plastic storage containers and jumbles of plastic bags.

Get Creative

Take a good look at the trash that your family creates and decide if some of it can be utilized in another way. For instance:

  • citrus rinds can be placed inside a jar of white vinegar and steeped for a few days to create a fragrant, yet powerful cleaning solution
  • eggs shells can be crumbled and used as a calcium supplement in the soil around roses and tomato vines
  • coffee grounds, fruit trimmings, vegetable peelings and shredded cardboard and paper can be composted in the backyard to provide nutrient-dense soil for the garden or lawn
  • tightly lidded jars, such as those that contain pasta sauce or salsa can be washed, dried and used as sturdy storage jars for spices and pantry staples, such as baking soda, rice, popcorn and salt

Choose to Grow Some of Your Family's Food

Eating organically grown salad greens is a healthy source of nutrients for your family, but the plastic containers they come packed in can add up quickly in the trash can. A wise alternative is to consider planting a few pots of your favorite greens on sunny windowsills, in pots on the deck or patio or in a garden plot in the backyard. Many varieties are ready to eat in just a few weeks and will regrow quickly after cutting.  

Take Pride in Pre-Owned

Before purchasing new clothing, sporting goods, toys, books, housewares, tools or other goods, consider shopping thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales and community classified sites for suitable pre-owned versions. It is often possible to find good quality, gently used items for a fraction of the cost of new ones, and purchasing pre-owned usually eliminates most or all of the packaging.

For even more tips to help your family manage waste, contact your local waste management company, or click here for info about waste management services in your area.