5 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Everyday Waste

April is Earth Month, a time to celebrate this gorgeous planet that we call home and to consider ways that we as individuals can reduce our impact on the environment. With viral photos of islands of trash in the middle of the ocean and time-lapse videos of melting glaciers, the task of saving our planet can seem daunting! Sometimes it might feel like the changes you make (or don’t make) won’t have any effect on air pollution, waste accumulation, or global warming, but that’s simply untrue.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind this Earth Month, plus 5 new ideas on how YOU can reduce waste and your carbon footprint.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (In That Order)

We all know, and some of us live by, the motto ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. What you may not have realized is that, the order of those words has as much meaning as the words themselves. Recycling is great- people are recycling more than ever and raw materials are given new life instead of taking up space in landfills. But the truth is, not 100% of what we recycle can actually be reused and energy resources are heavily expended in the collection, sterilization, and processing of recycled materials. That’s why it’s best to…

Reuse before you recycle. Let’s take a look at plastic grocery bags. When you shop for groceries, they’re packed for you in plastic bags. Your groceries stay in those bags from the time it takes for you to get them home and unloaded, on average that’s about 12 minutes. After those 12 minutes, 99.95% of plastic bags are destined for the landfill where they’ll take between 10 and 20 years to decompose (and that’s an extremely short time span in terms of plastic decomposition rate.) You can give your plastic bags a longer and more meaningful life by reusing them the next time you go to the grocery story, using them to line your bathroom waste cans, or picking up pet waste with them (instead of buying a whole roll of…plastic bags). When those grocery bags have lived their best life, recycle them!

But you can do the most by skipping the plastic bags altogether, which brings us to ‘reduce’. By reducing your use of items like plastic bags, you’re making a bigger impact than when you chose to reuse or recycle because you’re not messing with those bags at all! You may be thinking ‘well, if I don’t use them, someone else will’ but when you roll into the grocery store with your reusable grocery bags, your decision might educate and inspire someone else to do the same thing and YOU won’t be saddled with the guilt of contributing another single-use plastic to the landfill.

Now you know why taking a small action like skipping the grocery bag is such a big deal and you’re wondering ‘what other little things can I do to improve the health of our environment?’ Here are a few simple suggestions:

  1. Mix up a powerful and fragrant cleaning spray in your own reusable spray bottle with everyday household ingredients. Not only will this reduce your plastic waste, but you’ll be putting less questionable chemicals into your home AND into the Earth. Check out our favorite DIY cleaning spray.
  2. Find an alternative way of disposing your food waste, which accounts for 10-20% of all household waste. Compost your food scraps and feed them to your garden or utilize your in-sink disposal to break foods down into tiny particles that are filtered out by water waste management and utilized as fertilizer.
  3. Pass on as many single-use plastics as possible. Get in the habit of always having your reusable bags, bottles, mugs, and containers with you. Forgo bagging your produce at the grocery store, invest in plastic wrap alternatives, and say NO THANKS to plastic straws (be real with yourself, you’re not 5 any more, you don’t need a straw).
  4. Write to your representatives. California has already put a state-wide ban on plastic bags and many cities throughout the country are doing the same. You have a say, so let your voice be heard!
  5. Reuse your Catered Fit containers. We frequently get asked if we can take back our plastic meal prep containers for reuse. Unfortunately, health laws make it so that we can’t, but that doesn’t mean that their life needs to end when you’re done with dinner! Our staff has come up with a creative list of all the ways they’ve repurposed their plastic containers and we hope you’ll be inspired to take the same initiative:
    • Reuse them for future leftovers
    • Distribute your holiday cookies and candies in them
    • Store small items in them like nuts, bolts, and screws
    • Organize your craft supplies
    • Plant an herb garden
    • Use them for small paint projects

Share with us how you reuse your containers. Hashtag #CateredFit on instagram!

Sources:

Click to access how_long_does_it_take_garbage_to_decompose.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garbage_disposal_unit

http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/plastic-bag-legislation.aspx

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