Whether it’s Earth Day or any day, it’s always a good time to reduce waste. Single-use plastics contribute about 380 million metric tons of waste every year, and people throw away about 1.2 million plastic bottles per minute. Cutting back on packaging and improving your recycling efforts are easy ways to reduce that waste in your home or at work. Here are five things you can do to lower your waste output without having to make major life changes.
- Reusable produce bags have become easier to find, and they’re a great way to cut down on all those plastic produce bags you use at the grocery store. Most grocery stores and online shops now carry durable mesh bags or cotton net bags that can be washed and reused hundreds of times. Instead of using plastic bags for your carrots and apples, keep a stack of produce bags in your reusable shopping bags!
- Reusable shopping bags aren’t just for the grocery store. Take your own bags to any store, including clothing and shoe stores or anyplace you’re picking up merchandise. Keep a few reusable bags stashed in your purse or glove compartment for last-minute purchases and keep unwanted bags from ending up in a landfill. As a bonus, many stores will give you a credit or discount for bringing your own bags. Loading heavy items? Extra-large, heavy duty bags are now widely available.
- Reusable water bottles come in a ton of sizes and materials, from tot-sized cups to gallon-sized sippers. About 90% of plastic isn’t recycled, so make an effort to use glass or reusable plastic water bottles whenever possible. If you do need to use a single-use water bottle, make sure to recycle them when they’re empty.
- Compost your food scraps! The average waste stream contains about 25% compostable items like food waste. Starting a backyard compost pile is as easy as buying a composting bin or creating an inexpensive compost area in a corner of the yard. If you don’t want to compost at home, many cities offer composting services either through the municipal waste program or through private companies. For example, in our hometown of Houston, companies like Curb to Compost provide home pickup for a nominal monthly fee. Check your local area for home compost services. If you run a restaurant or commercial building with food service areas, you’ll have more options for managing food waste. Our commercial waste services team can help you find the right recycling and auger solutions for your locations.
- Go digital with your bills and junk mail. Did you know you can opt out of marketing mail and other circulars that end up in the garbage? Even offices and commercial addresses can do this. There are several companies that will remove your address from mailing lists, or you can follow steps provided by ecocycle.org. And, of course, switch all your utility and credit card bills to e-bill delivery. This helps cut down on a significant amount of paper waste.
When it comes to helping the planet, we can all take steps to lower our waste. If you’re managing an office building or commercial space, get in touch and find out how we can help you implement recycling and waste diversion programs at your locations. Give us a call to find out more!