Being “green” is all the rage today. Everyone is talking about “reduce, reuse, recycle” and carrying your own reusable bags to the store has been the ultimate in fashion. But, some are still struggling to really understand the basics of it all. I know I did for a long time! So, today I am going to talk about the 5 easy ways to reduce your trash, through the 4 R’s
Reduce, Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycling
These have been the buzzwords of the eco-world for some time. Let’s go over each one, shall we?
means that you buy products with less packaging. For example, instead of buying the boxed cereal with the plastic liner, you buy the prepacked cereal that is only in the plastic bag. It can also be not putting your produce in a plastic produce bag at the store. Easy enough, right?
Some ways to maximize on this are carrying your own produce bags with you. (get them here from my affiliate partner). Buying produce without packaging at all, and allowing your bananas and broccoli to sit together in your cloth shopping bag works just as well. They won’t fight, I promise. Another way to reduce is to rethink “wants vs. needs”
means that if you have plastic shopping bags, you take them to the store with you a second time, or using them as trash bags. Washing that plastic disposable flatware from the party to use at the next party, instead of buying another box. I also like to call storing your leftovers in a old yogurt container, or making milk jugs into scoops or mini greenhouses for your garden reusing, although others would consider this re-purposing.
This also would be if you bought a bottle of soy sauce and when it was empty, added your own homemade soy sauce to it. Another great way to reuse is to check out garage sales or thrift stores for an item vs. buying it new. When you don’t buy something new, an “order” isn’t placed for another one. Clothing is a great example of this.
can be about the same as reusing. You are making the plastic milk jug into a mini-green house, making those plastic shopping bags into a carry-all, or using kcups from your keurig as seed starters.
Also, re purposing would be if you turned an old dresser into an entertainment stand or kitchen island. The easiest way to re purpose something is to think outside the box. Yogurt containers? Great for storing hair ties or barrettes. Ketchup or mustard bottles are a lot of fun in the bathtub as toys.
When my kids were younger, I would take carefully washed out bottles and jugs and that was what they used to play “store” with.
This one is fairly self explanatory, as it usually refers to paper, cardboard and many plastics either being picked up or being taken down to a center for breakdown and being rebuilt into something else. This is the hardest one for many to get started on, really.
You usually have to separate the paper from the cardboard, clear glass from colored glass and try and remember what plastics can be recycled. Setting up recycling in your home CAN be done, and once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to do. For a list of most commonly recycled items, check with your garbage service, or refer to this list.
Wait, didn’t I say there would be FIVE items?? Well, a lot of people don’t realize there should be a 5th “R”. and that is REFUSE.
Who knew, right? Refuse to buy new clothing, shop at thrift or consignment stores. Refuse to use plastic anything, and only purchase things in bulk bins and bring your own glass mason jars. Refuse those plastic grocery shopping bags, and bring your own.
You can attach some to your purse or belt loop to help you remember them always. Eco bags sells some cute chico bags here. Refuse to buy plastic flatware and paper plates for entertaining, and just wash dishes when you are done. Refuse to use paper napkins, and use cloth instead. Refuse to buy prepacked foods and learn to make your own (see my post on 5 things to stop buying and start making here)
The best way to get started with this is to find some mason jars at a thrift store, and weigh them at the customer service counter when you get to the store. Write the tare weight down on a piece of masking tape with a sharpie so that you can remember to take that off when you checking out.
You may come across a confused cashier at first, so be patient. The best things to buy in bulk bins that I have found are oats, granola, rice, beans, and some stores sell loose tea and spices in bulk.
So, this is just 5 of the easy ways to reduce your trash. It’s really not that hard, but in some cases just requires you to think differently. What are some ways you are reducing your trash?
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.