Whether you want to live a more self-sustaining lifestyle or just want to find ways to go green in the home, learning how to recycle and reuse items can kickstart more sustainable habits and protect the environment. Here’s a simple guide to greener living, complete with various ways to recycle and strategies to cut down on material waste.
Instead of throwing food scraps away, you can use them as compost to help grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, and other plants. Compost enriches the soil, increases water retention, and reduces the need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Use food scraps, like banana peels, egg shells, and carrot shavings, to create a compost pile in your backyard. Add all of these materials to a metal bin and when the material at the bottom of the bin gets dark, your compost is ready to use.
- Cut down on plastic use
On average, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour and produce nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year. You can reduce plastic use in the home by considering these eco-friendly alternatives:
- Bring a reusable shopping bag with you when you go shopping.
- Stop buying plastic water bottles and use a stainless steel water bottle. If you do buy plastic water bottles, be sure to recycle them.
- Use a reusable metal straw instead of a plastic one
- Choose stainless steel ice trays over plastic ones.
- When you buy alcohol, opt for glass bottles instead of plastic or aluminum cans.
- Use your vehicle less
Electric vehicles are revolutionary, offering an equally smooth and clean driving experience. Though switching to an electric vehicle can be a big investment upfront, the ROI of buying an electric car will quickly pay off since you’ll be spending less money on gasoline and maintenance. Some other affordable alternatives to driving your car include taking public transportation or carpooling to work. Although you’d likely still be commuting in a gas-powered vehicle, you’d at least be consolidating to one car instead of two. You could also bike and walk to more often if you live within close proximity of wherever you’re going.
- Reduce waste
Recycling is the most obvious way to minimize waste and go green in the home, but another way to be more sustainable is to get into the habit of “reducing” waste. One idea is to stop all junk mail to your house and another could be to sign up for paperless billing—this reduces the amount of paper produced. You can also reduce the amount of water you use each month by taking quicker showers, waiting to run appliances until you have a full load of dirty dishes or laundry, and installing low-flow shower heads. Additionally, if you have large items that you want to throw away, see if you can donate them first. For example, a mattress can be donated to a women’s shelter or Habitat for Humanity instead of being tossed out with the rest of your trash.
- Repair instead of replace
Another simple way to get on the path to greener living is to fix items in your home rather than going out and buying a replacement. This is especially important if you have a major appliance or system that breaks down. Instead of throwing the appliance away and buying a new system, try to make the necessary repairs first. If you’re not that handy, check to see if the appliance is covered under a home warranty or product insurance plan. Typically, these plans will cover the cost of repairs if your appliance has broken down from normal wear and tear. If you have this type of operage, not only will it save you tons of money by preventing you from buying a brand new item, but it will also prevent e-waste from building up in the environment should you have thrown the item away.
Kay Carter is a writer from Raleigh, NC. When she isn’t writing about sustainability or the latest wellness trend, she enjoys reading, traveling, and practicing photography.