Every day, Americans collectively generate 700,000 tons of trash. Reducing waste may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. You may not have the time or resources to do it perfectly, but don’t let that stop you!
From taking sustainable actions to purchasing eco friendly gifts, there are countless ways, big and small, to reduce your waste in a way that fits with your lifestyle. To help you get started, we’re sharing a collection of 21 easy zero waste tips. No pressure or judgment — just try a few and see what works for you!
And remember: don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. The world needs millions of environmentally conscious people doing zero-waste imperfectly, not a handful doing it perfectly.
Reduce Reuse Recycle: 21 Ideas to Help You Reduce Waste at Home
1. Bulk Goods are the ULTIMATE Eco friendly products
Consider buying staples in bulk and storing them in reusable containers like mason jars or cloth bags. Because you can control the amount, you’ll be able to get exactly what you need. And as an added bonus, you should notice a difference in your bank account, since pre-packaged goods tend to come with a hefty price tag. To save even more, consider joining a food buying club (or start one)!
2. NO Plastic Bottles
Approximately 40% of bottled water sold is actually tap water. Instead of being duped by clever marketing, invest in a quality water filter and a sweet reusable water bottle. We love glass, but there are plenty of other sustainable options! And while you’re at it, grab a thermos for your coffee or tea on the go. You’ll be able to make it exactly the way you like it — and save a money, too.
3. Invest In a Set of Cloth Produce Bags
You know those flimsy plastic bags they offer in the produce department? Super wasteful. Investing in (and remembering to bring) a set of cloth produce bags will protect your purchases and prevent more plastic from ending up in the ocean and the bodies of aquatic wildlife. These bags are great for transporting bulk goods, too. Plus, your produce will never be cuter!
4. Avoid produce wrapped in plastic
This is a tough one, because many supermarkets shrink-wrap every loose piece of produce they can get their hands on, even those that naturally have biodegradable packaging. Shrink-wrapped bananas, anyone? But, that brings us to our next tip!
5. Support Your Local Farmer
The food will be fresher, tastier, more sustainable, and way more nutritious. Besides, by supporting local farmers, you’ll cycle your dollars right back into your local economy. Alternatively, you can join a CSA or sign up for a local food delivery service.
6. Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Plastic cutlery, straws, plates, and cups clog our landfills and end up filling the bellies of sea turtles. So get yourself a set of reusable cutlery, stainless steel straws, and reusable containers to keep in your car or bag while you’re out and about.
7. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
Let’s face it: despite our best intentions, waste happens. Perhaps you forgot to pack lunch and had to grab food to go. Or maybe your local store doesn’t yet offer bulk bins. Whatever the reason, if you do end up with recyclables, try your best to recycle properly.Check in with your municipal waste treatment facility and follow their guidelines so that everything gets sorted correctly.
8. Ditch the tea bags
Most tea bags are loaded with micro plastics that are bad for you and the environment. But have no fear: loose-leaf tea is here! Pick up an in-mug strainer or a set of reusable cloth tea bags and you’ll be on your way to a delicious, sustainable brew in no time! And if you’re feeling adventurous, try blending up your own teas — you’ll be able to have your cuppa exactly how you like it — and as a bonus, custom blends make wonderful gifts.
9. Green Up Your Closet
Buy exclusively from sustainable clothing brands or hit up your local thrift or consignment shop. Often, you’ll find unique, gently worn (or even brand new) stuff at a fraction of the original price. Get used to people asking “where did you get that?” And while you’re there, donate that pair of jeans you haven’t been able to squeeze into in 10 years. As Marie Kondo says, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”