Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce, reuse, recycle - the most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. By reducing and reusing, consumers can save natural resources and reduce waste management costs; and by designing, manufacturing, purchasing, or using materials in ways that reduce the amount of the toxicity of trash created before they become municipal solid waste.
Check out the following tips to decrease waste in your everyday life:
- Buy less single-use items such as plastic water bottles, utensils, and paper plates. While they may be recyclable, reducing the creation of these items decreases greenhouse gas emissions, prevents pollution, reduces energy needs, and saves you money.
- Borrow items that you need for only a short period of time such as home improvement tools, books and movies, and party supplies like bowls and chairs; this option is not only good for the planet, but good for your wallet too! The Delaware Library of Things also provides an avenue for borrowing.
- Choose digital billing and receipts. Many companies offer and incentivize online billing; this reduces paper consumption and can reduce vehicle emissions caused by mail delivery. Receipts are printed on non-recyclable paper; these small bits of waste add up and create a big impact on waste.
- Opt for purchasing used items when possible; online marketplaces have made the sale and purchase of used items convenient and easy.
- Old t-shirts can be transformed into a variety of items: rags for cleaning and polishing, braided dogs toys, even rugs!
- Donate or try to sell items you no longer use. If the item is in clean, working condition, local organizations may accept them; this helps both the planet and our community.
Reducing Food Waste
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 31% of all the available food supply went uneaten in 2010, represent a value of $161.6 billion. In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 81% of household food waste ended up in landfills.
Reduce your household food waste by following these tips:
- Plan your meals for the week and shop based on these plans
- Keep track of which foods are often thrown away in your home; find ways to better preserve what isn’t eaten (such as freezing) or purchase less when possible
- Check your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry before shopping to avoid buying what you already have
- Make sure your fruits and vegetables are being stored properly, maximizing their shelf life
- Learn about where to store foods within your refrigerator, what produce items shouldn’t be placed next to one another, and when to wash fruits HERE.
- Utilize your freezer! Many food items such as bread, meat, sliced fruits, and leftovers can be stored for long periods of time when frozen.
- Start a compost pile to discard your yard and food waste. Check out the Delaware Backyard Composting Guide (PDF) and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension for more information on how to properly start and maintain compost for your home.