The problem with garbage is that it may be carted out of sight, but it’s certainly not disappearing. Reduce the amount you’re contributing with a few tricks to produce less waste in the first place. Between reducing the amount of rubbish you make and being sure you reuse and recycle the rest, you can make a difference. Plus, you may find that reducing your waste footprint can also be great for your bank account!
Invest in fewer higher-quality clothes and shoes
The cost of fast-fashion is huge. Besides the sweatshop labour, most of these clothes and shoes are so cheaply made that they can end up in the bin after only being worn a dozen times! This can add up to a huge amount of ‘stuff’ being disposed of in landfill every year. Try a “less-is-more” approach: avoid monthly trips to low quality fashion stores in favour of a few higher-quality, sustainably-produced staple pieces. There are now a number of clothing and shoe brands made right here in Australia that not only eliminate sweatshop labour, but boost local economies. Even if you must invest a little more up front, your clothes won’t fall apart after a few washings (bonus: you may find your closet less-stuffed). If you must get your shopping fix, check out consignment or second-hand stores - besides finding unique items, you may even save money in the process!
Reduce consumption of plastic containers and bottles
All of those takeaway containers and bottled drinks add up. Even if you recycle everything after using it, the recycling process itself requires plenty of water and energy. You can save money, trim your waistline and help the Earth by bringing more of your own food to school or work. When you’re at the grocery store, always look for products with the least amount of packaging and see if there’s a bulk-foods store near you. If reducing package waste isn’t reason enough for you, perhaps money is; buying in bulk is almost always cheaper.
Compost food scraps
Keeping food scraps out of the garbage has several benefits. Besides lowering the total volume of rubbish you’re producing, your kitchen scraps can be put to work! When done properly, composting produces rich black soil that will make your garden plants stronger and healthier. Talk to an expert to learn how to properly set up your compost station. When done correctly, it provides an odour-free way to dispose of all plant-based kitchen scraps (to keep the stink out, meat and dairy byproducts are a no-no). Compost also keeps dry leaves and cut grass from the lawn out of the garbage heap too. Another feel-good benefit of compost is that the process actually fixes carbon out of the atmosphere, shrinking your total carbon footprint. Even if you live in an apartment without a garden, municipal composting may be available in your area.
Make sure you properly recycle electronics
Electronic waste is some of the most environmentally damaging stuff we produce. Keep old TVs, computer screens and phones out of the landfill by practising proper recycling techniques. Occasionally (but not always), you may have to pay a small fee, but you can make this up with some of the other money-saving tips in this list. A little bit of cash is a small price to pay to: 1) reduce the seepage of heavy metals into the ground and water and 2) reduce the demand for materials like copper to be freshly strip-mined.
As more and more people becoming environmentally conscious, the “zero waste” movement continues to grow. Do your own research and see how you can help do your little bit – who knows, you might even start your own movement!