When it comes to reducing, reusing and recycling, there are many things we can do to reduce packaging and re-purpose items we already have on hand and find new life for things.
If you’ve been trying to cut back on waste, you probably notice how much extra packaging comes along with most items. All of these wrappers, and extra “garbage” end up in the landfill and become more waste and more of a problem.
If you’re looking to reduce packaging and find some green solutions for all the garbage you accumulate, here are a few ideas.
1. Recycle to Reduce Packaging
The easiest solution to reduce packaging is to simply recycle. You can recycle almost all glass, metal, tin, aluminum and paper packaging and many plastics. Try signing up for your city’s recycling program. It’s the easiest way to reduce your footprint and keep things out of the landfill.
All organic waste can be composted–paper, paper towels, leaves, newspaper, dryer lint, grass, plant-based foods, cardboard. Starting to compost is super easy, and you can do it right away. You can compost coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, and all kinds of items you probably haven’t even thought of! If it came out of your kitchen, you can probably compost it (just avoid meat and animal products because they rot and attract pests).
3. Bring Your Own Containers
If you are going shopping, bring your own bag. I know it’s hard to remember all the time, but there are many shopping bags you can fold and fit right in your glove compartment, or purse. If you’re ready to level-up, bring your own bags for produce. Also, buy items in bulk whenever possible, storing in your own containers! When you get home you can move items into jars or containers you have for storing.
4. Use Paper Wrapping
Rather than using tinfoil or plastic wrap, or ziplock baggies, try using paper to wrap up your sandwich. This keeps items in your lunch clean and ready to go. Just like a deli, using paper keeps things fresh and mess-free. Moreover, you can shred paper and add it to compost. It’s much easier to break down than plastics.
5. Reuse Rags
Try to cut back on your use of disposable items–rags, and wipes and other items that don’t break down as quickly. If you can, cut apart old towels, or reuse t-shirts and other fabric to make dust clothes and cleaning rags. You can use these multiple times, and wash them, rather than just tossing them out.
6. Use Bags Over and Over
When you DO end up with a bag from a store, try to use that bag several times. If it’s made of paper, you can cut it apart for DIY gift wrap, or put an item in it to use for a gift. Plastic bags are terrible for the environment, but if you end up with some, here are 50 Ways to Upcycle Plastic Bags.
7. Find New Uses for Jars
Jars, such as spaghetti sauce, candles and other items make great storage containers, cups, and can be used several (or more) times. You can cover plastic tubs for butter, sour cream and yogurt with paper, or reuse to hold other food. You can also cover or paint tin cans to be planters, or use recycled containers to hold art supplies, kids items, or small things that need storage.
8. Opt for Minimal When Possible
Whenever it’s possible to reduce packaging, go for it! When requesting a shipment, ask to bundle them together. When a store asks if you need a bag, or would like a receipt, opt out. Instead, ask them to email it rather than taking one more piece of paper. Make a conscious effort to minimize packaging whenever possible. You can make a difference!
It’s hard to avoid packaging on many items, but if you try, you can reduce the amount of garbage you bring in. Thus, you put out less trash into the world. Try to be conscious of ways you can cut back, and places you can reduce your consumption whenever you can!