Small actions with large impacts

The average person generates about 4.5 pounds of trash per day. So any action we take, no matter how small, to reduce waste will add up and reduce that generated waste. That means less litter on the land, less pollution in the water, and less trash buried in the landfill. We can each make less waste and help make a healthier community in which to live. That’s a win–win. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Use a refillable bottle
There is no need to buy bottled water. Instead, use a refillable water bottle or container. Remember to bring it along wherever you need water: gardening outside, exercising, or in the car while running errands. Fill your bottle from a faucet or water fountain. You’ll also save money! (And did you know…some bottled water is just filtered tap water anyway.)

Pass on the plastic bag
When headed to the store for supplies, groceries, or clothing, take along reusable shopping bags. Remember to take them out of the car to hold your purchases, then remind the cashiers that you have your own bags and won’t need plastic bags. A plastic bag is used an average of 12 minutes but can cause harm in our waters for many years to come. Plastic bags kill about 100,000 marine animals every year. So pass on the plastic and carry your own shopping bag.

Toss fewer paper towels
How many paper towels does is take to dry off your hands or wipe your face? Hopefully, only one.  Many public restrooms are already reducing waste with air hand dryers, but sometimes paper towels are all that’s available. If you use paper towels, shake extra water from your hands into the sink and then take just one towel. When you have a spill at home, use a sponge or washable cloth to clean up instead of paper towels.

Pack a zero waste lunch
Start with a reusable lunchbox or insulated lunch bag. Pack foods in washable snack bags and containers. Pack a drink in a reusable bottle. Finish it off with a cloth napkin and silverware to wash and reuse. By packing a zero waste lunch and avoiding foods in single-serving packages, you and your family can save money and reduce waste. The foods can be healthier for you too. Pack your lunch the night before, keep it the refrigerator, and grab it in the morning. Bring home any unfinished food  to eat later. Wash your reusable containers and everything is set for tomorrow.

Recycle wherever you are!
Be sure to recycle all you can at home and when you are out. If you cannot find a recycling bin while traveling, bring your used recyclables back home to recycle them. Always make sure you are collecting the correct materials for your local program. Check with your solid waste management district or local recycling program to find out what can be recycled where you live.

Photo credit: avi_gamliel | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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