Beginner’s Guide to Reducing WasteIvy Gutierrez
We would be amiss to talk about healthy living if we did not stop for a second (or in our case, one monthly issue) and talk about the health of our planet. With Earth Day being April 22th, it seemed appropriate to see how we can help keep our planet healthy.
One of the simple changes each and every one of us can do would be to learn how to manage our waste. You likely have trash pickup twice a week in your area, most do. Did you ever wonder what happens to it? Some cities, like San Francisco and Seattle, are able to recycle more than they send to landfills, but the majority of the U.S. sends their trash to the dump.
So, in an effort to keep Texas as clean as possible … sending less trash to the dump would help immensely! You would be surprised how easily you could do that. Let’s look at some ideas each household can implement to try to do our share for Earth.
Ok, this first one is pretty obvious. You may have a recycling trash can, but you are not using it yet. Why not? It doesn’t take that much time to put your water bottles or soda cans on the side.
If you are recycling, are you doing it properly? Here’s some tips:
- Always recycle glass, it can be recycled end- lessly.
- Wash off any food or liquid from your bot- tles, canisters or cans. Give them a good rinse under running water to make sure they are clean.
- You can recycle almost any kind of paper, not just newspapers. So, feel free to recycle your kid’s school paper (those handouts seem to multiply!), envelopes and even toilet paper and paper towel tubes.
- All plastic bottles can be recycled, even your salad dressing bottle, but always take the cap off. This will allow them to be compressed easier later.
- Always break up your cardboard boxes when recycling. Flattening them saves space.
When in doubt on what can be recycled, it is best to check your trash service provider, as each recycling center may have slightly different rules.
Reduce Your Food Waste
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the largest component of municipal solid waste sent to landfill is food. It seems to stand that the most significant way to decrease your household waste would be reducing your food scraps.
The best way to do that is to start planning your shopping. See what you can mix and match to make the most of your groceries. Does the recipe call for egg yolk only? Use the egg whites to make a bundt cake! Does anyone in your vicinity have chickens or pigs? Ask them what kind of foods they may need for the animals. Warning: Meat is usually not ok! If you are feeling up for it, you can start a composting pile in your backyard.
Avoid Single Use Plastic
This is a big one and you can make small changes that will create a big impact so easily! While recycling your water bottles is obviously better than throwing them out, not using water bottles in the first place would be even better!
Pick up a nice reusable water bottle. Tap water has stricter quality and health standards in the U.S. than bottled water, so there is really no reason to keep buying water.
No Plastic Bags
What do you do with all of the plastic bags you get at H-E-B? Even if you try to use them for your bathroom trash can liners, you likely cannot use each and every single one of them. H-E-B sometimes puts single items in individual bags, making for a truly impressive pile on your kitchen counter after just one shopping trip. Instead of throwing them all in the trash after every trip, buy reusable bags on your next trip and simply keep them in your car. If you do not have a reusable insulated bag for your frozen items, you must get at least that one.
Swap to a Metal Straw
Another easy way to save the landfills – and oceans – from filling up with plastic is skipping the straw. In just the U.S. alone, one estimate suggests 500 million straws are used every single day. Straws may seem like such a small item, but they are contributing to a big environmental problem. So, the next time you place a drink order, kindly ask for the waiter/bartender to skip the straw. If you absolutely need or want a straw, reusable straws made out of silicone or metal are available for purchase.
Reusable Bags and Containers
Zip lock bags are another popular household item that is very practical to use, but quite bad for the environment. Sometimes a bag can be reused, but most times, we will just throw it out and grab a new one next time. Why don’t you give reusable bags or containers a go? If you are sending your child to school with a sandwich, you can buy a sandwich container for just 3-4 dollars at TJ Maxx, Home Goods or Marshalls and simply wash it at the end of the day and reuse the next day. If you line your crock pot with a liner, try doing without it. Yes, the bowl will need to be washed, but ultimately both of these changes will save not just the planet, but your wallet, as well.