Reducing waste in your home can seem like a daunting task initially. What does that mean anyway? Do you stop using trash altogether? Do you join a commune and only live off the land? Well, here at The Curly Butterfly, my motto is “Clean Living in the Real World”. That means I strive to live somewhere between zero waste and all the plastic floating in the ocean.
When I started on my journey, I did an analysis of where I was producing waste (yeah, I’m a data nerd). After looking at where I had the most waste, I immediately made the most obvious change. Reducing waste in my home kitchen was as easy as swapping out my grocery bags. I was bringing home upwards of 20-30 plastic bags for an average weekly shopping trip! Now, while my husband calls these his “lunch bags”, I don’t think I need 1000 of them. So I made the investment and bought some reusable shopping bags. Big surprise, I can fit more groceries in one reusable bag than in a plastic bag! Bonus: less trips inside the house, and I get a good weight workout at the same time!!
Now that EVERYTHING is online, there really are very few things you need to keep in a physical file. Marriage and birth certificates, licenses, leases/mortgages, and taxes may need paper copies (just in case everything crashes). These things I keep in my emergency red “Go Folder”. But almost everything else can be found and kept online. As I was going through my bills each month, I started slowly switching to paperless accounts (I just need some system of remembering all of my passwords!). Now, I get very little mail except for junk mail and the occasional mail for my kids school related paperwork. That’s a whole filing system in itself!
The next thing I did was started cleaning out my old file folders and throwing stuff in the recycle bin (or shredding it if it had sensitive information). When I cam across my file with all of my home manuals (oven, refrigerator, Kitchen Aid mixer, etc), I started wondering if I could find those manuals online instead. Sure enough, I was able to find almost every single one in a PDF file that I saved on my desktop. I mean, how many times do we actually use those things anyway?
Swap Cloth for Paper Towels
One of the biggest changes I made was to stop using windex and paper towels. Let me rephrase that, my husband is the OCD house cleaner in our family and for 18 years he was obsessed with cleaning everything in the house with windex and paper towels. I mean, we would go through 1 bottle of windex and a big 6-8 pack of paper towels in a week! Now we use microfiber cloths and water. I go into much more detail about our cloths in this post if you want more details.
Sort Your Trash
Finally, one of the easiest ways to reduce waste is to sort your trash. This may be intuitive for some people, but I really have to put some effort into this thinking. Even though I am a science teacher, there were a lot of things I didn’t know about basic recycling and have learned over time. First, just because it’s plastic or glass, doesn’t mean it can be recycled. Contact your local waste company to find out which things can go into your recycle bin. Second, compost food scraps if you can, or check to see if there is a compost drop off in your area. Litterless is a great site I found that lists where to compost, where to buy bulk groceries, and so much more in your area in the United States.
What tips do you have for reducing waste in your home? I love to add tips to my list, so share with me in the comments below!