How long can you go without thinking about climate change? Some people can go several days without thinking about how the Earth is in danger. Personally, I can’t go more than a few hours without breaking out in a cold sweat. If you’re in the latter category, I feel you, sister. But what can we do to save the world? If we’re not in positions to create legislation, then how can we fix the issue? Enter: reducing household waste.
Working to reduce our home’s waste output has been one of the most personally fulfilling and anxiety-reducing things I’ve ever done. It’s provided a way for me to constructively address climate change in my own home, and it saves a bunch of money over time. Here are a few easy ways to introduce waste reducing practices to your home.
- Invest in some equipment. This is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste. Do you find yourself going through cans of cooking spray? Get a refillable and reusable olive oil sprayer—you’ll break even on your investment after just three fills. Does your family gulp down seltzer like bubbly water is going out of style? Try a SodaStream sparkling water maker. Using too many plastic bags for school lunches? Get reusable bags. Feel guilty about the amount of aluminum foil and parchment paper you use while baking? Get some silicon baking mats. These easy and relatively affordable appliances will cut your waste while saving money.
- Buy in bulk. Everyone knows this one already, but buying in bulk will significantly reduce the amount of packaging you consume. Sure, single-serving bags of chips might fit well into the kid’s lunchbox, but that tiny convenience comes with a price—material that sits in a landfill for literally hundreds of years. Get over it and invest in some reusable bags.
- Ditch the plastic bags. Some places in the United States have introduced a bag tax to limit the amount of plastic used. If you haven’t already, switch to canvas or reusable plastic bags instead of relying on supermarket containers. If you live in an area with this tax, you’ll save money. Even if you don’t, you’ll reduce personal plastic consumption.
- Cancel unnecessary mail. This is a weird one, but trust me, you don’t realize how much paper and plastic your bills use until you stop getting them. Take a few minutes to switch to electronic billing on all household utilities, and cancel subscriptions that result in junk mail. Getting off mailing lists is easy—in most cases, it just requires the push of a button.
- Learn to repair. When things break, our first instinct is to throw them away. “Ah, a new one is only a few bucks, why not just get a better version.” I’ve caught myself falling into this trap, too, and it doesn’t feel good. When was the last time you actually fixed something? The next time a strap pops off your tank top or a lamp stops working, spend some time searching online for fixes instead of throwing it in the garbage. If you can’t fix it yourself, post the repair online to see if anyone can fix is on the cheap. It feels good to fix things yourself.