As consumption becomes a more significant part of society, you must find a way to mitigate the waste that inevitably comes with it. Decreasing the junk in your household means making big changes you might not feel comfortable with. However, you can take little steps toward a low-waste home by changing small things and saying no to unethical consumption. Here are a few ways to mix up your lifestyle and try something new instead of sticking to your old habits.
1. Stop Buying Single-Use Items
As convenient as disposable items may be, they create more issues than they solve. Plastic derives from materials that can damage human health and never really break down in landfills, leading to potential health risk for wildlife.
You can rely on reusable items to do the same jobs. For example, a reusable water bottle might be able to hold twice or three times the amount of a plastic bottle. You also don’t have to worry about recycling it when you’re done because of its long life span.
Similarly, instead of getting paper or plastic at the grocery store, bring your own reusable bag. If you ever forget to bring it along, make sure the plastic bags have a second purpose, such as liners for small trash cans.
2. Shop From Responsible Places
The thrift store might be the best place to find something new to you that won’t break the budget or be of such cheap material that it falls apart instantly. Since these secondhand items are often discounted, you’ll feel better about finding pieces that suit your needs or lifestyle while saving money on something that may last much longer. This way, you’re not contributing to the manufacturing process — and you might get a thrift store find that looks good as new.
Even if you pivot to mostly buying secondhand items, you’ll eventually run into something you have to buy new. While lowering your waste output, you’ll want to support businesses that share your goals and produce items that last years. Research the companies you’re interested in, and ensure they have committed to sustainability and high-quality materials. That way, you’ll potentially avoid throwing something out within a year when it breaks or isn’t useful anymore.
3. Learn to Compost
Because it’s hard to portion meals out exactly, many households end up having some kind of food waste after each week of grocery shopping. Instead of throwing out all the rotting food scraps, you can compost them to create nutrient-rich soil that benefits your plants. It’s a great option if you grow herbs or vegetables from a home garden. That way, you’ll eat things you produce and create compost that can go right back into the soil.
Methane from food decomposing in landfills can be 84 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. You can start small and learn to compost in your kitchen, ultimately working your way up to a bigger receptacle and more self-reliance on foods your household grows itself. One way to stop buying too much food is to follow a list when you go to the grocery store or order your items online for pickup — it eliminates some of the temptations you may see on the shelves.
4. Go Paperless
Switching to digital options can help you reduce the clutter in your mailbox. For example, a digital magazine subscription ensures you can save and read it anytime, while a physical copy might get thrown out.
If you declutter your desktop, you might feel more inclined to switch to paperless options. Getting your computer organized might be an arduous task, but it’ll be worth it once you have clean spaces and can neatly file away any other materials.
5. Mend Your Clothes
Clothing production makes up 60% of all textiles — a significant number that has only increased over the past decade. Fast fashion has spiked, creating even more emissions, polluting the world and damaging human health with chemicals that shouldn’t always be in clothes. Instead of giving in to fast fashion, you can mend the clothes that tear, extending their life span and adding a unique flair to your wardrobe.
Other times, you may look in your closet and think you have nothing to wear, which could lead you to turn to fast fashion to build a few outfits for your situation. If you can invest in high-quality pieces, you should do so — they’ll last far longer and won’t immediately add waste to a landfill.
Since the average American throws out over 70 pounds of clothing annually, creating a capsule wardrobe that helps you rely on certain staple pieces can be a better investment of your money. You don’t need as many items as you might think — just a few staple articles of clothing can lead to dozens of outfits. Get inspiration online and work your mended clothes into a capsule wardrobe that allows your creativity to shine through.
Create a Low-Waste Home Over Time
It might be impossible to make all these changes at once, but little steps can turn into significant differences that greatly impact your household. Cutting back on the waste the people in your house produce can mean an overall lower carbon footprint while enjoying small wins, like only needing one outdoor garbage bin. Decreasing what you throw away will benefit the environment, and keep your household clean and healthy.