In the modern age of consumerism, coupled with our fondness for convenience and saving money, it’s not uncommon for most of us to find our selves with more “stuff” than we really need – clothes we buy but never wear, samples we never try, foods we never eat – the list could go on. Not only does all of this waste and clutter eventually weigh us down, but it is also clogging landfills and impacting the health of our planet. Here are just a few smart and sustainable ideas to help reduce waste and make the most of what we have.
1. Storage Solutions
We tend to use what we see and can easily find. What we can’t see, we may forget we have and end up re-purchasing. Consider items that frequently use but can’t always find, especially the small items like hair ties, tooth picks, hand sanitizers, etc. Utilize cabinet space ergonomically by investing in small (ideally sustainable) storage containers for small items you’ll frequently need to find. This will help you save storage space and money on re-purchases.
This might sound like an obvious one, but taking extra steps (sometimes this literally means a just few extra footsteps to the recycling bins) to recycle can significantly reduce your impact on the planet. Did you know that the average American produces 4.4 lbs of waste a day? Take the time check bottles, cans, and boxes to see what is and is not recycable, to help reduce your daily trash output.
3. Speaking of Trash – Stop Accepting It!
Think of the last time you ordered take-out and ended up throwing away handfuls of ketchup packets or creamers and the like. While it’s a courtesy on the restaurant’s part, we’re often given much more than we need. Don’t shy away from asking for no extra sauce, dressing packets, or plastic utensils, especially if you’re eating at home. If you don’t ask, you’ll probably be left holding the bag – of trash. The same goes for beauty samples and free gifts. While free perks may seem great at first, it becomes more garbage and clutter for us if we don’t end up using them.
4. Repair or Recycle What’s Broken
I’m sure most of us have clothes, jewelry, or electronic items that go unworn or unused because it’s broken, torn or knotted. If these items never get fixed, they’ll either be consuming space in your home or in a landfill. Learning to sew, or doing the research to find ways to fix these items will serve you in the end. If it’s an item worth saving but you can’t hack it on your own, consider investing in a jewelry repair expert, seamstress, or other professional who can help you reduce waste in your home and offer sustainable solutions for the planet. Consider also that many chain electronic stores have specific recycling receptacles for dysfunctional or damaged electronics and this is a great option for parts to be put to good future use.
5. Reuse, Thrift, or Gift What You Don’t Need
The internet is full of crafty DIY ideas to help you re-purpose items that would otherwise be thrown out. Not only is it compassionate, sustainable, and cost-effective to reuse old items like tattered clothes as dish rags or pillow covers, for example, but these projects can also serve as relaxing creative outlets and bonding activities to share with friends and family.
Another sustainable living application for items you don’t want or can no longer use is to thrift or gift them. Beyond yard sales and consignment shops, there are also many second-hand shopping apps popping up today, such as Poshmark, Mercari, Offer Up (Let Go), not to mention Ebay (the OG platform for re-sale). Selling unwanted items that are still in fair to excellent condition can help others find rare items, and save money, while allowing you to trade in items that are taking up space for a bit of extra cash. Ultimately selling and gifting second hand items helps reduce waste while making others happy – it’s a win-win-win!
Bring sanctity to your space by finding creative ways to reuse items or by investing the time in finding the right home for them. Your home and the planet will thank you!