It takes time and money to handle all the waste we throw away. When we reduce the amount of stuff we buy and eventually throw away, we end up with more time, space and money.
Reduce at home
Reclaim your mailbox
The average American receives more than 40 pounds of junk mail every year. While recycling junk mail or unneeded phone books is a great decision, reducing unwanted mail is even better. Remove your name from advertising lists through the Direct Mail Association. Find ways to reduce catalog delivery, credit card offers and more at RethinkRecycling.com.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average household can accumulate as much as 100 pounds of hazardous waste in the basement, garage and in storage closets. Purchase products labeled non-toxic, biodegradable, all-natural and those that contain plant-based ingredients. Save money by making your own healthy household cleaners with common ingredients like baking soda and vinegar.
Donate to feel great
Consider donating what you no longer use. Many charities offer convenient at-home pick-up services for clothes, furniture and whatever else you are ready to give up. Check out local donation opportunities to see where you can drop off your goods.
Many items can be repaired easily instead of tossed in the trash. Fix your appliances, clothes and jewelry by searching the phone book or online for local repair businesses or finding do-it-yourself tutorials on YouTube.
Reduce when you eat & drink
Take up the tap
Invest in a good reusable water bottle. In 2012, Americans purchased about 222 disposable water bottles each—that equals about $100 per person. Even though plastic bottles are recyclable, fewer than one in four make it to the recycling bin. More than 25 percent of bottled water is just processed tap water, including the major brands.
Take the trash out of lunch
Eliminating disposable packaging and single-serving items in lunches can save families $250 a year. Buy in bulk and use reusable containers to portion out your lunch. Even straws and baggies can be replaced with reusable ones. Find out how to save hundreds of dollars per year by packing waste-free lunches at WasteFreeLunch.org.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to reduce packaging waste, save money, and try new foods in small quantities. Grocery stores offer different types of loose items from coffee beans to pinto beans and nuts to spices. Get familiar with bulk buying at RethinkRecycling.com.
Reduce while you shop
Go for quality
Whether used or new, purchase clothing, electronics and furniture that are more durable, can be fixed, or can be passed on to other people you know or donated to a thrift store when you’re done with them. Research your purchases by reading online customer reviews on Amazon or E-pinions to ensure you get just what you need and won’t regret your purchase or have to buy a replacement later.
Get a real bag
The average American acquires about 500 shopping bags a year. Whether you’re shopping for food, clothes or gadgets, carry your own reusable bag. It’s thicker, stronger and lasts much longer than paper or plastic bag options. Grocery stores and most retailers sell reusable bags at the cash register for as little as $1.
Borrow, rent, shop used first
Many items that we use only once or twice a year — tables and chairs for annual gatherings or power tools and ladders for home improvement projects — can be easily borrowed from friends or rented from local businesses like hardware and sporting goods stores . You can also try out online borrowing websites like SnapGoods or Loanables.
Reduce while you entertain yourself & others
Use your library
Paper is used to publish more than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers each year. Save money and reduce clutter in your home by checking out a book or CD instead of buying your own copy. The Dakota County Library has print books, e-books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs and video games to check out.
Party without waste
Simple solutions—a reusable tablecloth instead of a throw-away or using decorations from nature—create less waste. Check out RethinkRecycling.com for resources and tips on green event planning.
Give green gifts
Think outside the gift box. Buy a membership, share an experience, provide a service or give an environmental product as a birthday, holiday or just-because present. Get creative with gift wrapping, too, by using scarves, old sheet music and maps, or a reusable gift bag. The Daily Green has many other ideas for gifts and wrapping.