Having trouble keeping up with your family’s garbage output? Putting a bit more thought into the way you manage your household waste can help you get more organized. With careful planning, you’ll be able to save money and have less of an impact on the environment. See Step 1 to find out how to deal with garbage, food scraps, and recyclables.
Use cloth bags instead of plastic. This small measure will greatly reduce the amount of waste you bring into your house. No matter where you’re shopping, you can bring your own reusable cloth bags instead of accepting plastic bags from the store. Plan ahead by purchasing several reusable bags and storing them where you won’t forget to bring them along next time you go shopping, like in your kitchen or in the trunk of your car.
Buy food that has less packaging. If you tend to buy food that comes in boxes wrapped in plastic with individually-wrapped serving sizes inside, you’re probably producing more waste than you want to. Look for ways to buy food with minimal packaging, especially plastic packaging, and you’ll see your daily mound of garbage turn into a tiny hill. Here are a few tricks to try:
Do vermicomposting. You can make your own worm composting system.
Don’t use bottled drinks unless you have to. Bottled water – and other bottled drinks – are a major source of waste in many places. In some places bottled water is safer to drink than tap water, but if that’s not the case in your area, consider using tap water instead. You can always filter the water if you don’t like the way it tastes. This is more economical and much better for the environment.
Reduce your paper usage. If you like using computers, there are very few reasons you still need to have a lot of paper waste in your house. Taking measures to reduce the amount of paper you buy, as well as the amount of paper that gets sent to you in the mail, can save you the headache of having to sort through piles of papers.
Consider making your own household cleaners and detergents. Many of the containers used for cleaners and detergents aren’t recyclable, so they end up going in the garbage. If you have the time and inclination, making your own formulas and storing them in glass containers will end up saving tons of money and significantly reduce your garbage output. You’ll also end up creating a chemical-free environment for your family. Here are a few great recipes to try:
Donate items when possible. If you have old clothing, electronics, or other items you don’t want but are still in decent shape, donate them instead of throwing them out in the trash. Better they end up in a classroom or someone’s closet than the landfill.
Reuse containers. Durable containers can be reused a number of times before they need to go out with the garbage or recycling. Bottles, boxes and bags can all serve a second purpose if you know how to use them.
Follow your city’s recycling policies. In some places you need to sort plastic, glass, and paper recyclables and and turn them in separately, while other cities allow you to place all recyclables in the same bin and be done with it. Some cities provide recycling pickup, while other places have a recycling center where you can drop everything off. Check your city’s website and follow its policy regarding proper recycling.
Dispose of trash and hazardous waste properly. There are some household items that just can’t be recycled or reused. These items have to be thrown out with the trash or disposed of at a hazardous waste facility. Try to reduce your consumption of the following items, and when you do use them, dispose of them according to your city’s laws:
Save your food scraps and yard cuttings from the trash. Food scraps and yard cuttings don’t need to be thrown out. Instead, you can compost them and turn them into rich, nutritious soil that can be used to nourish your garden – or donated to someone else who will be able to use it for theirs. There are many ways to compost; some compost mixtures allow for items like meat and dairy to be included, while others are strictly for fruit and vegetable scraps. To start a basic compost pile, save these items:
Create a compost site. Select an area in a sunny or partially shaded spot in your yard for your compost site. Ideally, you’ll compost directly over dirt or grass, but if you don’t have a large yard area, you can compost on a concrete patio. Here are a few different ways you can structure your compost site:
Choose to make either a cold or hot compost heap. Making a cold heap requires less effort, but it takes longer for the compost to be ready. Making a hot heap requires a little work, but you’ll have compost in as little as 6 – 8 weeks. Here’s the difference:
Maintain your compost site. If it seems to be rotting too fast and turning slimy, add more brown items to slow it down. If it seems to be too dry to work its magic, add some water or more green items. The more effort you put into tending to your compost site, the faster you’ll have useable compost.
Use your compost when it’s ready. You’ll know your compost is ready when it turns a rich brown or black color and takes on an earthy smell. Your compost can be used to fertilize your vegetable or flower garden, or you can simply spread it around your yard to give your grass and other plants a nutrition boost.