There are a lot of items that we use every day and then get rid of them by throwing them in the garbage. Unfortunately, this results in a pile of garbage as we throw old items, as well as the packaging of new items. Reducing solid waste is reducing the amount of trash that goes to landfills.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are the most common methods to reduce landfill waste. Landfill waste poses a huge problem as it has an economic and environmental impact, and secondly, due to the slow decomposition rate, which takes thousands of years, several acres of land has already been virtually rendered useless that could have been actually used for setting up new residential colonies or industries.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos
While most of us may consider ourselves to be adept at conserving and recycling, the truth is that the average American makes far more trips to the landfills every year than you might think. While all of us probably believe that recycling and reusing things is a good habit, it’s a question of whether or not we actually carry it out.
According to Wikipedia,
“A landfill site (also known as a tip, dump, rubbish dump, garbage dump or dumping ground) is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment. Historically, landfills have been the most common method of organized waste disposal and remain so in many places around the world.“
Approximately 72 percent of the waste currently being landfilled or incinerated consists of materials that could be put to higher and better use through recycling or composting. Most of this material is office paper, cardboard, non-recyclable paper, and food waste.
~ Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
A landfill site not only has a bad effect on the tourism industry but also badly pollutes clean water and air. Polluted air and water has a negative effect on the health of humans, animals and marine life. Here are 25 useful steps you can take to ensure that you make fewer trips to the landfill each year.
25 Easy and Simple Ways To Reduce Landfill Waste
1. Donate Clothes
Believe it or not, the throwing away of clothing is one of the biggest contributions we make to landfills today. We open up our closets, pick clothes that no longer need like a sweater that was fashionable last year, a ripped shirt, or some clothes that we just don’t want to keep any more. And where does it go? That’s right, to the garbage, and from there, to the landfill.
Instead of throwing away these old clothes, make better use out of it. First, make sure that these are clothes that you absolutely don’t need any more. Then, donate clothes to people in need or Goodwill stores, or hold a sale in your garage (though assuming the clothes are still wearable, of course). You know what they say, another man’s trash is another man’s pleasure.
2. Reduce Food Waste
Food is another item that we often just carelessly toss away without thinking twice about it. Each year, a very large percentage of our purchased food is left uneaten. Instead of simply throwing away food, make good use out of it. Even if we kept just a small percentage of our uneaten food and donated it, millions of needy people would be fed.
3. Meal Plan
Meal planning can go a long way in reducing your food waste. Plan what you’re going to eat during the week and make sure you’re not over-purchasing on foods that you won’t eat, and end up in the bin.
Spend just 10-15 minutes each week to plan what you’re going to eat that week, and create a shopping list accordingly. You can take one step even in advance and prepare your meal to ensure that you don’t need to buy plastic-packaged foods when you’re out and about!
4. Eat Healthy
Also, think about eating healthier. Buy healthier foods that don’t require as much disposable waste in the form of packaging. Reuse old shopping bags and containers for maximum efficiency, and better yet, cloth bags. Don’t buy fast food take out as often either.
5. Save Leftovers for Next Day
Don’t forget about the leftovers! Too many people are careless enough to throw away half of a good meal and not save it for later. Eating leftovers more often will save on money and result in less food waste. Try making it a habit to save the rest of tonight’s food in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.
6. Buy Things in Bulk with Less Packaging
You can also stock up on food in the freezer. Buy a bunch of food at the same time and store it in the freezer. Buying food in bulk means less packaging and less waste. Look up online if you can buy foods in bulk from anywhere locally.
Take your own containers, and stock up on the essentials without the extra packaging! Don’t buy any more food until the freezer is empty.
7. Avoid Food Wrapped In Plastic
Sadly most food is wrapped in plastic these days. The UK alone produces more than 170 tonnes of waste every year, much of which is food packaging. If you observe your bin, you will find most of it is plastic that was wrapping your food. This is one of the biggest struggles of day-to-day life, as supermarkets, producers cover everything in plastic. Try to seek out foods that aren’t wrapped in plastic.
8. Bring Your Own Bag
Whenever you leave the house, make sure you are carrying your own bag. Instead of plastic bags, we all need to be bringing our own reusable options. Cotton bags are really great and are perfect for loose fruit and veg.
We are usually wearing a backpack with us when going out, thus put anything in it you’re buying. If you forget, just carry using your arms instead. Don’t be embarrassed to say no to single-use plastic.
9. Shop Local
It is not only better to support the local economy but local markets and stores as they often use a lot less plastic to wrap their foods. Plan your weekly shop to visit the local farmer’s market or greengrocer’s instead of going to the supermarket. It’s a great way to get more zero waste options, get bargains on fruit and veg, as well as get a sense of community from shopping locally.
10. Avoid Single-Use Items/Foods
Try avoiding items like plastic cutlery, straws, plates, cups and single-use food items like pre-packaged salads, sandwiches, dressing, yoghurts etc. There are reusable or multi-purpose options, and these things can be easily replaced simply by staying prepared and saying no.
11. Reusable Cutlery and Storage Containers
When you want to avoid single-use items, it’s become important that you bring your own! Always pick up a handy cutlery set before your travels and throw in your bag when you’re heading out that you can avoid plastic spoons and forks.
The same goes for containers. Grab whatever containers you have, throw them in your bag when you know you’re going to be eating food out. That day the food will potentially come in plastic packaging, therefore kindly ask them to use your container instead. These simple swaps make a huge impact on your overall waste production.
Try taking your lunch to school or work to avoid takeout. Use a lunchbox and reusable snack bags, which are not only healthier and cheaper, but you get to keep more of your lunch break for yourself!
12. Say No to Straws
Being adults, we really don’t need straws to drink our drinks. Try practicing saying no to straws when you order a drink. Either you bring your own or simply say no to avoid that extra plastic as it is an easy one to forget.
Photo credit: Deposit Photos
13. Boycott Plastic Water Bottles
Millions of plastic water bottles are thrown away by people every day. Don’t become one of those people. Not only will you save a boatload of money by switching to reusable glass bottles, but you will also be throwing a lot less empty (and an empty, for that matter) water bottles into the trash, which in turn means you won’t contribute to the mountains of bottles in landfills or (gulp) in the bottom of the ocean.
14. Just Don’t Buy as Much Stuff….Really!
Though it’s often quite tempting to buy as much things as money can buy, if you are serious about cutting down on the number of trips you make to the landfill each year, simply buying less stuff will severely cut back on those numbers of trips already. Re-evaluate your priorities. Think about what you need vs. what you want. Also, be mindful of what you throw away.
15. Use Up The Items You Already Have
If you try incorporating minimalism into your life, you will be surprised to find that it takes a much longer time to fully use things up. Just using one product can last around 6 months. So before replacing anything out of habit, delve into your cupboards and see what you can use up. This could be applied to toiletries, makeup, food in your pantry, whatever.
16. Go Vegan
Going vegan is another most incredible way to help reduce your impact on this earth. A vegan diet’s carbon footprint is dramatically lower compared to a meat-eater or vegetarian diet. Animal agriculture requires massive amounts of land, water, food and energy, which means the destruction of wildlife, overfishing, deforestation and the depletion of freshwater sources.
It is a leading contributor to global greenhouse emissions. Just by changing the food on your plate, you can change your impact on the planet directly.
17. Drink Loose Leaf Tea
Do you know teabags have plastic in them? It’s really enjoying drinking loose leaf tea from a teapot with an infuser. If you drink a lot of tea like me, try this, and that’s saving a lot of waste.
Don’t just throw away old glass bottles or aluminium cans. Instead, recycle them. Keep a recycle bin in your home to place old soda cans, paper, metal and plastic cups. Most urban areas have a recycling station in town. Try making more trips to the recycling station than to the landfill.
19. Purchase Items Made From Recycled Products
Consider buying items made from recycled products so that you can help the environment in making it clean and green. Most of the advertisers advertise this fact so that you know that you are actually providing a helping hand to reduce landfills.
Also, this will set as an example for your friends, family and relatives, and they will also start buying items made from recycled products.
20. Clean Smarter
Instead of buying cleaning solutions from the market to unclog your drains, use baking soda and vinegar for your cleaning projects. Baking soda has countless uses, and neither vinegar nor baking soda will hurt the environment. This way, you can avoid all the bottles of cleaners and cans you use.
Composting is an easy and natural process that takes remains of plants and kitchen waste and turns it into nutrient-rich food that help your plants grow. Compost is organic materials that have been collected together and decomposed. Composting helps you recycle your kitchen waste and reduce the amount of what is sent to landfills that proves safe for the environment.
Take an old shopping bag with you while going out for shopping. An old shopping bag can replace hundreds of plastic bags that will end up in landfills. Use empty wine or beer bottles into lamps, oil and vinegar dispensers or send them to recycling centers as few of them may be recycled.
23. Buy rechargeable batteries
Rechargeable batteries will save you money in the long run and keep disposable batteries out of landfills. Disposable batteries can prove very harmful to the environment as chemicals inside the batteries can leak.
24. Buy Items Packaged in Recycled Cartons
Buy products that are packaged in recycled cartons and reuse those cartons. Similarly, old newspapers make great packaging material. This helps to promote recycling.
25. Get Involved
…get involved. Visit pro-recycling sites and talk to others in your community about the benefits of reducing solid waste. Family, friends, neighbors, anyone. If you start to make a difference, maybe others will follow your footsteps.