Solutions for Less Waste in a One-Use-Wonder Kinda World
Living a totally waste free life is tough (read: um, impossible?!).Especially when the world we live in, our surroundings and everyday habits make it extremely difficult to stop producing waste. This blog post isn’t meant to drastically change your life or convert you into foraging your food from wild bushes and trees. It is, however, meant to shift your perspective – maybe even enlighten you to the ways that waste has completely taken over our lives – and ask you to change just a few of your habits.
So, how can you reduce your trash footprint, without it totally cramping your style? Here are some simple, practical ways to help get you thinking about your everyday life and your relationship with trash.
1. Recycle, properly
Unfortunately, recycling guidelines are not uniform across all recycling facilities. Google recycling in your town to better understand their guidelines, and always keep an eye out for information about how to better recycle at city-sponsored events. Here is a link to a list of items Sacramento allows in their blue recycling bins.
2. Be more cognizant of the things you throw away
Whenever you throw something in the garbage, be extra mindful about what it is. That way, you will have a better, fuller understanding of what in your daily life produces the most waste. Is it food materials? Paper? Cans? Beauty products? Something else? The more you notice, the more you can aim to substitute the single use items you are using into things that are more sustainable.
3. BYOB (Bring your own BAG)
At this point, this should be a given. Especially in California where there is an extra charge if you use one of the store’s bags. However, take this a step further and invest in reusable produce and bulk bags. That way, you won’t have to use the plastic bags at the store to store your apples, or use bag after single use plastic bag in the bulk section when buying nuts, grains, or granola. Check out some cool options here and here
4. Say No to Single Use Items
This refers to disposable plastics that are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These items are things like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging. To understand why single use plastic is so destructive, read on with this blurb from plasticfreechallenge.org:
“We produce hundreds of millions of tons of plastic every year, most of which cannot be recycled…Worldwide only 10% of plastic items are recycled. The nature of petroleum based disposable plastic makes it difficult to recycle and they have to add new virgin materials and chemicals to it to do so. Besides that, even the plastic that does get “recycled” cannot all be used. Petroleum based plastic is not biodegradable and usually goes into a landfill where it is buried or it gets into the water and finds its way into the ocean. Plastic will not biodegrade, (decompose into natural substance like soil), but it will break down into tiny particles after many years. In the process of breaking down this way, it releases toxic chemicals (additives that were used to shape and harden the plastic) which make their way into our food and water supply. These toxic chemicals can be found in our bloodstream. And the latest research has linked them to cancer, infertility, birth defects, impaired immunity and many other ailments.”
- Say no to straws! When you’re out on the town grabbing a drink (or three), or sitting in your favorite restaurant or cafe, get in the habit of asking for your drink “sans the straw.” You don’t really need it, and it will alert others to the concept of reducing these environmental terrors.
- Shop glass or stainless steel straws here
- When ordering takeout, ask for just the food. Try to avoid things like plastic utensils, plastic bags, and all the frills that come with a takeout order that are not necessary.
- STOP using (and buying) single use plastic water bottles! Start carrying your own reusable bottle wherever you go. This will help you avoid waste, AND up your water intake – trust me.
- Bring Your Own Cup! It’s the new thing, I swear. One of the biggest trash epidemics comes from the multitude of thrown away coffee cups and sleeves. Listen, I know that we’re all busy people and the convenience factor of coffee and other drinks in “to-go” cups is just so tempting – but we can be busy, and enjoy convenience, AND save the earth all at the same time! Bring your own reusable coffee mug when going to your favorite place for joe and ask them to put your drink in there. A lot of places will actually give you a small discount for bringing your own cup! A win win!**Don’t drink coffee? Did you know, you can bring your own reusable cup to Vibe and we will fill it with your smoothie, cognitive coffee, or kombucha? How sweet is that?! Drinking healthy AND saving the environment! Now that’s higher vibes.
Shop some great brands here – Klean Kanteen, Goop, Life Without Plastic
5. Start Composting!
Composting sounds like a giant ordeal – What if I live in a city/don’t have a backyard/don’t have access to municipal composting?! Don’t worry! Even you in your one bedroom, can’t see the light of day, apartment building can compost!
First of all, what is it?
Compost is the practice of collecting biodegradable stuff – such as food scraps and food waste – and letting it all quickly rot so itcan turn back into a healthy, nutrient-dense soil. When these materials instead go into places like landfills, they rot slowly and end up releasing harmful greenhouse gases like methane.
So, what can be composted? Everything from rotten food, soiled paper towels, cotton balls, compostable to-go food containers, snotty tissues, cooking grease, bones, to even worn out clothing made of all-natural materials can probably get thrown straight into your compost. Yes, it can be stinky – but it’s still totally worth it.
One way to compost, especially if you live in an apartment without a backyard is by using a leftover paper bag, which you can recycle at a drop-off location, like at the farmer’s market or your city’s closest drop off area. Keep the contents in your freezer until you are ready to drop it off at the market.
The easiest way to compost is definitely municipal composting, where the city comes around and picks up your compost just like they already pick up your trash and recycling. If you don’t have municipal composting (most people don’t), then call 311 and tell your city that you want municipal composting. Also, here is some more info on Sacramento’s composting policies and offerings.
*information gathered from trashisfortossers.com