The hardest part of going #lowwaste is just getting started. Challenge yourself to pick one of these… Ready? Go!
1. Ditch your BIG ONE
Most of us have one single-use disposable thing we habitually toss every day. Maybe your big one is bottled water, paper towels, K-Cups, or plastic to-go boxes. Think through a regular day or week–what’s one thing that you throw away often? Now, challenge yourself to quit that one thing for the next 7 days. You can do it!
We still don’t know how long a plastic bag takes to break down, but the answer is probably 500-1000 years. Single-use disposables are everywhere. Bring your own reusable items instead! If and when you can, use a coffee tumbler, reusable water bottle, cloth napkin, or stainless steel straw. I’ve put together a wooden crate of things I use most often that I simply keep in my car. That way, when I’m out and I want coffee or need a straw, I can just run out to the car and grab it. Check out what’s in my car kit here.
3. Carpool more or drive less (or, hey, do both!)
Transportation is the #1 source of carbon emissions in the US. One way you can help is to drive less (and maybe even fly less often). Drive less often: use public transportation, bike, walk, or just skip the trip. Carpool more: find ways to double up your trip with a friend. Grocery run? Phone a friend near you to see if you can pick something up for them. Do you live near a church friend? Ride together.
4. Log fewer transport miles
“Transportation emissions” also includes our stuff. For instance, how far does your food travel to reach your plate? If you live in the US, the components of your average meal may have traveled 1,500 miles to reach your plate. Instead, grow your own food! Eat more locally and seasonally. The local economy and farmers will thank you for it. Another way to reduce your transportation emissions is in the actual stuff you buy: was it made in your country or shipped in from far away? Do you really need to purchase all the things you want? Buy less stuff and you’ll use less carbon, every time.
5. Eat less meat/fish
One scientist calculated that reducing our consumption meat and fish (and animal products) by 20% would be the emissions-reduction equivalent of switching from a sedan to a Prius. Almost 46% of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is tiny pieces of fishing nets–much of the rest is also fishing gear. (The sustainability of farmed fishing operations largely depends on the fish.) Overall, food animal agriculture is the second largest polluter of the atmosphere.
6. Are you in charge of your utilities? Check the renewable energy box.
Most utility companies have renewable energy options! In Oklahoma, you can simply check the box online to enroll in 100% Wind Power. Not everyone will be able to do this, since it does cost around $5 extra on your electricity per month, but most of us could skip a little something each month to save the planet.
7. Use less electricity!
So many simple things here: turn the AC/heat down a couple degrees, turn off lights, switch to LEDs the next time you buy bulbs. Be present with your electricity use, especially at home. I’ve turned my fridge temp up a few degrees, switched to LEDs, and learned to unplug appliances that aren’t in use–most plugged-in gadgets use electricity, even when they’re off ***.
8. Take shorter showers
This one’s a no-brainer. Save water by taking shorter showers or using a low-flow showerhead. We installed this one in our Airstream. This simple switch will save so much water over time.
9. Shop less
Not everyone can be a minimalist, but most of us can buy less stuff. Ask, “do I really need this?” or the KonMari question, “will this bring me joy?” Choose experiences over things as often as possible. I love the frugal mantra, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
10. Buy Secondhand
Last week someone asked me, “are all your clothes from thrift stores?” And the answer was, “Yeah, probably over 90% were purchased secondhand or received as gifts. Beyond clothes, I often go secondhand shopping for housewares: my box grater and favorite cookie spatula were thrifted. New stuff is great, but new-to-you stuff is even more sustainable.
What are your some of your simple tips to reduce waste? Let us know in the comments below!