Im sure you have heard the term: reduce, reuse and recycle - in order to keep excess waste out of landfill, its important that we each do our part through these 3 R’s of waste management.Through previous blogs we have delved into the importance of both reusing what you have, and recycling what you no longer need, yet we havent touched on the most important of them all: reducing.
Why is this the most important?
Well, with less than 10% of the worlds plastic actually being recycled, its paramount that we start at the source, making sure that we reduce the amount that we consume. By reducing waste, we avoid the unnecessary use of resources such as materials, energy and water - meaning there is less waste to manage overall.
This blog will detail some of the easiest and most effective ways that you can practice reducing in your home, at school and work, in your community, while traveling and around the holidays. We hope you enjoy!
Reducing At Home
The best place to begin making a difference is in your home, learn how you can decrease your household waste with our tips below:
- Learn how to compost at home. Composting your food scraps, garden trimmings and other organic wastes is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your household waste. Organic waste makes up 30% of all household waste, so investing in a compost bin will save you a heap of space in the trash - while also producing amazing food for your plants. Win-win!
- Raise the cutting height of your lawnmower during hot summer months to keep grass roots shaded and cooler. This simple step will reduce weed growth and browning, thus reduce the need for watering.
- If you need large lawn and garden equipment such as tillers and chainsaws, you can reduce waste (and save money) by setting up a sharing program with your neighbors.
- When you mow, leave grass clippings on your lawn instead of bagging them. The clippings will return nutrients to the soil instead of taking up space in landfills - or alternatively, these can be composted.
- Donate healthy plants that you want to replace to community gardens, parks and schools.
- If you have a wood burning fireplace, save your ashes instead of throwing them away. Once cooled, wood ashes can be mixed into your compost heap and provide nutrients to your garden.
- Clean and properly store tools, toys and outdoor furniture. Caring for your things will reduce the chance of damage from natural causes, making them last longer and keep them out of landfills.
- Switch off or unplug your lights during the day - this will help save energy and make your lights last far longer.
- Have a yard sale. When moving or clearing out old items, put on a yard sale to find homes from books, furniture, appliances and other household goods that you no longer need.
- For cleaning chores, be sure to buy reusable mops, sponges and cloths. When buying cleaning products, use only what you need and look into ways that you can refill the cleaning product from home: such as this DIY household spray.
Reducing at School / Work:
- Think green before you shop. Before each school year, fish through last years materials - are there books that have space in them, pens that are still full of ink? Why buy new when what you have will do the trick.
- Reduce the waste in landfills by buying stationary that is wrapped in recyclable materials, avoiding plastic wrap wherever possible - buying in bulk is a great way to achieve this.
- Maintain your supplies. Keeping tracking of what you have purchased and making sure they are stored safely at school or the office will minimise the need to buy replacements.
- If you bring lunch and water to school or work, make sure you are packing it using reusable containers, sustainable or compostable packaging.
- If youre buying lunch, make sure to grab only what you need. Too often, napkins, sauce packets and plastic cutlery goes to waste.
- Instead of printing out your documents, save them to your email or hard drive to avoid wasted paper.
- If paper is required, opt for recycled paper and keep a recycling bin positioned in the office.
Reducing in your community:
As they say, many hands make light work - and encouraging your neighbours to work together as a community can make a MASSIVE difference in reducing waste.
- Donate your old tech to local schools. Many schools will be able to make great use out of your old tablets and computers, thus prolonging the life of your tech and avoiding it taking up landfill space.
- Before deciding to ditch your computer and upgrade to a newer model, consider enhancing your computers capabilities through upgrading its harddrive or storage. This will save you money in the long run too!
- Donating used by still functioning tech is a great way to lengthen the lifespan of valuable products that take a great deal of energy to produce.
- Community clean-ups. An excellent way to make a real difference in your community is by organising nature clean-ups. Starting pages which bring people together to volunteer clean-up local beaches, bushes, reserves and seas is an amazing way to unite your community and make change - again, many hands make light work!
- Set up a composting pile for your neighbourhood or local school. It only takes a small amount of space to collect organic waste, and the compost from this pile can be sold for community or school funds.
Reducing On The Road:
Tourism is one of the most polluting industries, representing 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. And with 80% of all tourism taking place in coastal areas , plastic from the sector can be a huge contributor to pollution. During peak tourist season, marine litter in the Mediterranean region was found to increase by up to 40 per cent! However there are a few simple ways that you can reduce your waste, conserve resources, and minimize the overall environmental impact of your visit.
- When visiting beaches, parks and reserves, make SURE you take everything that you brought there, ensuring none of your litter is left behind and the natural beauties are left undisturbed.
- Recycle, or even better, avoid, buying single-use water bottles. Consider bringing a reusable bottle with a filter for tap water. Instead of buying multiple small plastic water bottles, consider purchasing water in bulk and refilling the same bottle to avoid excess waste.
- Public transport is your best friend when trying to reduce pollution while travelling. Sharing the ride with others through public buses or carpooling can have a huge effect.
Reducing During The Holidays:
As you can probably guess, the holidays can become incredibly wasteful with wrapping paper, packaging, excess gifts, parties and decorations all adding up.
- Think green before you shop. Bring your own reusable bags to store your goodies and when purchasing, think of buying items with minimal / recyclable packaging.
- Quality over quantity. The easiest way to reduce your christmas footprint is by buying less. Investing in a few high quality items over a wider range of cheap, easy to dispose items is a great way to reduce waste around the holidays.
- Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper. This technique has become increasingly popular in recent years which is amazing! There are so many creative ways to use newspaper, brown paper or last years christmas or birthday wrap to re-wrap this years christmas gifts - and besides looking cute and helping the planet, this can also save you the extra coin around the holidays!
- When gifting flowers, consider purchasing flowers in pots that will live on far past the holidays and can be eventually planted in the garden or popped on the windowsill.
- If youre hosting a holiday party, consider a zero waste approach to your decorations, cutlery, dishes and table arrangements.
- Be sure to have the proper waste disposal options in place for your party, and make sure your guests know where to pop their organics and recyclables when they need to dispose of them.
- After holiday festivities, put all leftovers in reusable containers or compostable food storage options and share them with friends and family to avoid excess food waste. If there is a surplus of untouched leftovers, donating to food banks or homeless shelters is another great option.
- After events, be sure you fill your dishwasher all the way up before popping it on to ensure you save energy when possible.
Have more tips on reducing? Send us your tips at firstname.lastname@example.org - we love learning from you all!