The average person produces a whopping three pounds of garbage that will end up in landfill each day: this statistic doesn’t include the other waste that can be recycled or composted. This shocking stat is just one of many reasons why increased numbers of people are choosing to make the step towards sustainable waste-free living. The world’s landfills are overflowing, and there doesn’t seem to be a viable solution to this problem in sight. The idea of waste-free living is simply making the decision not to send any waste created by you to the landfill. Instead you make sure you recycle every piece of recyclable waste, compost any food waste, reuse as much as possible, and make savvy shopping decisions. The hardest part of waste-free living is simply making the decision to get started. Here are a few tips on how to get started with waste free living, and as an extra incentive, ways making this lifestyle choice can help you to save money:
Living Waste-free in the Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the hardest rooms in the home in which to maintain a waste-free lifestyle, because of the perishable nature of the food coming in and out of it. The best way to have a waste free kitchen is to plan what you’ll be eating each day in advance. Only buy enough food to make the dishes on your list, and think about how any left-over food can be used for lunch the following day. Take your own jars, containers, and hessian bags with you to the store to carry your food: small local suppliers are the best, and more likely to help you leave the store without any waste products. Alternatively buy in bulk from wholesalers who prefer you to take your own storage receptacles. You can also use waste cutting to save yourself some additional money in the kitchen. When you’re cooking try only using the electricity and the water you need. If you usually cook vegetables by using several separate hobs, it can be much more cost-efficient to use just one hob instead of four. You can do this by using a tiered steamer, which will use the heat and steam from one hob to heat three or four tiers of vegetables, piled one on top of the other. This will also cut down on the amount of water you waste whilst you’re cooking. Similarly if you’re making yourself a cup of coffee, only put enough water in the pot for your cup: don’t waste water or energy by heating a full pot that you have no intention of using.
Waste-free Laundry Room
Yes, it is possible to have a waste-free laundry room. You simply have to shop around for natural alternatives to regular detergents and cleaning agents. Rather than buy cleaning clothes or throwaway cleaning products, cut up clothes that have worn out and can’t be repaired to use as cleaning clothes instead. Other fantastic alternative cleaning tools include old toothbrushes (great for scrubbing awkward corners). Don’t waste money on expensive and unrecyclable plug in air fresheners. Instead let house plants absorb toxins and clean your air, and keep a window open too: the effect will be just the same as an air freshener, but with no artificial chemicals or expense. Where possible, dry your laundry on a line rather than using a drier. In warmer months, there is no nicer smell or feel than laundry that has been dried outside on the line anyway. During colder, wetter periods, hang a line inside your home, in your laundry room or kitchen. It may take slightly longer to dry your clothes this way, but think of all the money you’ll save by not turning on your tumble drier? Finally, another great tip for having a waste-free and cheaper laundry room is simply not to iron your clothes: fantastic news for anyone who loathes ironing!
Repair, Reuse and Recycle
It’s amazing how much we throw away simply because we don’t like or want it in its original incarnation any more. However if you commit to a trash free lifestyle then you can repair and reuse almost everything you send to landfill: that dark dresser you just can’t stand? Why not upcycle it: paint it white (or any other color you love!) and add new handles. It’s like getting a whole new piece of furniture you love, without having to head to the furniture store or send your old dresser to landfill. Another great way to be sustainable and save money is to learn how to sew. That way you can repair items you love when they become slightly worn. Darning socks, fixing buttons and repairing hems are all very simple tasks that are easy to learn. Once you know how to sew you can do all of these jobs, rather than have to buy again: you’ll be amazed how much money you can save!
Committing to be trash free makes you consider every purchase you make so much more carefully. You’ll quickly find you stop buying things you want, and only buy the things you need instead. Stopping to think about your purchases will make you shop smart, and because you have to really think about them, you’ll find yourself much happier with the purchases you do decide to make. You’ll also find you have more money to buy those quality long-lasting products you didn’t think you could afford (like that cashmere coat, rather than the four wool ones you might have brought previously) because those quality purchases will last longer and will need replacing less frequently.
A final thought
Trash is something we all make, so our trash output is the one thing we could all strive to change. Thinking about the trash you throw away, recycling it and minimising it is something everyone can do. It’s the perfect way absolutely anyone can get involved in doing their bit to save our planet.
Image sourced: Mario Glambattistatagsgreen livingwaste-freezero waste