This topic has been in the forefront of my mind for a few months now, especially since Trevor and I live in such a small apartment and still managed to generate a bag of trash every two days. Read on to learn about our inspiration and the methods we use to reduce household waste in our home.
Over the past year I’ve become much more in-tune with our living habits and, I have to say, I was truly disgusted at first. Trevor and I had been slowly changing, but it wasn’t really noticeable until I was home last summer. I remember feeling horrible about not being able to keep up with the housework due to my head injury; I became very depressed by this time last year. One day I woke up and thought “It’s not me that is the problem, it is all the junk we have.”
Why is this important? This is the new mindset that sparked so many exciting changes in our lives! We discovered minimalism as a lifestyle, began to be more aware of the place we lived in and became conscious of how our everyday lives impacted the environment.
Since then we’ve been searching for ways we can lessen our impact on the environment.
Looking for some inspiration to help you get started? These videos and blogs were such a huge help for us. I know they’ll help you, too!
“10 Ways to Have Less Waste: Earth Day Wellness” by Joyous Health
Joyous Health is a Canadian YouTube channel and blog that features Joy McCarthy, a holistic nutritionalist. Her tips and tricks for every facet of life are, well, joyous! Joy has a wonderful authority that is approachable and bright; I know you’ll love her channel.
This year Joy uploaded a video called “10 Ways to Have Less Waste: Earth Day Wellness.” This video is great because it is very straightforward. It isn’t flashy, but rather is jam-packed with guidance.
“Ocean Confetti” by Minute Earth
This YouTube channel is an amazing resource that helps to make bigger scientific topics attainable to those of us that weren’t too great with science in school.
“Ocean Confetti” is a video detailing the harmful effects of plastic on our oceans, how it impacts the organisms that live in it and in turn our bodies.
They have other amazing videos on the environmental impact of humans!
Is it always a reliable source? Probably not, but the layout is so darn easy to follow!
How We’ve Reduced Household Waste
Raw, Whole Foods
For several reasons we’ve been purchasing more raw, whole foods for a few months now. I’m talking about actual heads of lettuce, whole carrots and actual apples. Instead of buying applesauce, I make it (you can make it in a slow-cooker…so no excuses!). I have to wash and cut lettuce for a salad. The horror!
By purchasing whole foods that aren’t packaged in plastic boxes, bags, or cardboard I’ve noticed we have a lot less food waste and waste in the trashcan.
*Kiss, Kiss* Buh-Bye Paper Towels!
One of the biggest ways Trevor and I have reduced the amount of trash we produce was to stop using paper towels. For a lot of people this is scary (actually, Trevor wasn’t all that keen on the idea himself), as paper towels are the first thing they reach for when there’s a mess. The realty is cloth wipes are FAR more absorbent, tackling liquid messes with ease–it just depends on the fabric you use.
Cloth wipes are also more cost effective than paper towels. The cheapest way to start a supply would be to cut up worn t-shirts and use them for rags. You can sew them up to make them look prettier. Even purchasing new organic bamboo fabric to sew up cloth wipes would be cheaper than paper towels, as the bamboo cloth wipe will last you years!
Reduce Incoming Mail
This point was discussed in a few of the inspirational videos mentioned above and caused the largest impact on our trash. Granted, we recycle paper, but mailings come so often from chain stores that it is often times difficult to keep up.
First, we switched everything that we could to paperless alerts and bills. This includes: our credit card correspondences, our school loan information and bills, our utility bills and payments and our tax information.
The next step is an on-going process: opting out of mailings. I haven’t found a legitimate service that allows you to do this, so I have to call/contact individual companies and request that I am removed from their mailing lists. This is time consuming, and is best done on a Saturday morning. Schedule a date and get to it!
NOTE: another thing to keep in mind is how much mail you’re sending OUT. I try to give birthday gifts digitally as much as possible when the recipient lives far away. A great example is my Dad; I like to send him digital gift cards for birthdays, Father’s Day and Christmas. That reduces three envelopes and three plastic cards. Imagine if we all did this for everyone we know, how much waste could be eliminated!
Frugal Laundry Habits
Maybe this seems obvious to some of you, but if you’re washing the right amount of items in your washer there are a few things you can do to eliminate waste.
When I purchase detergent and supplies, I buy the biggest bottle I can in order to reduce the number of bottles I go through.
I do “large” size loads for my washer; two a week. I fill my soap to the smallest level in the cap and I use my dryer sheets two to three times. This slows down how often we go through a bottle of detergent and a box of dryer sheets.
My clothes are clean and happy, which makes me clean and happy. For items with stains, as long as I pre-treat (like you should be doing, too!) they’re clean and happy as well.
Just doing these four things has made a huge difference in the amount of physical waste our house produces. Try one item on this list and see the difference for yourself!