20 Ways to Reduce Waste and Reuse What You Have in 2020
At Well.ca we’ve proudly dubbed 2020 the Year of Less. Less waste, stress, clutter, garbage, and more! We hope you’ll join us on our journey to simpler, more sustainable living, and we’re starting with twenty ways that we can reduce waste and reuse what we already have, TODAY!
1.Start With a Big Clean: We know the holidays can be stressful, but in the midst of all the cheer, parties, eating, and shopping it becomes clear how much we consume. Start the new year with a clear out! Clear the clutter from your shelves and closets and make it a goal to keep it nice and clutter free all year long.
2. Set A One In, One Out Rule: An easy and fun way to keep yourself on track for a reduced waste year is to stick to a one in, one out rule. If you bring home a new item of any kind, you must first finish, donate, eat, or throw away an item you already own of the same type. This applies to everything from a new electronics to shampoo to scarves. And although you can’t control everyone in your household, share what you’re doing with your partner, family, roommate, or kids and invite them to join in the fun.
3. Shop for Multitasking items: We spend our entire day multitasking, and should expect the same from the products we use. Look for opportunities to amalgamate common household or personal care items you can’t live without, eliminating extra packaging, mess and cost. We love Graydon All Over Soap & Shampoo because it keeps our shower clutter-free and makes traveling and restocking a dream.
4. Share Products with Family and Friends: Sharing is a great way to try new things without being stuck with something that doesn’t work for you. This might look like sharing small kitchen appliances we use sparingly, a slow cooker, large roasting pans, muffin trays, etc. If you live close to your loved ones, these things are easy to pass back and forth and give you another reason to see everyone!
5. Be Mindful of Food Waste: Food waste is a huge problem in North America, and while we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves, we all need to be more mindful. Try repurposing leftovers, freezing dinner sized portions, or planning meals in advance.
Where possible, shop bi-weekly or even daily for the items you need that day, as this will ensure things aren’t sitting in your fridge. We can’t always buy local or buy fresh, and some things will go bad sometimes, but shifting our mindset toward avoiding food waste and sharing those values with the people closest to us can make a huge difference.
6. Invest in a Sewing Kit: Instead of tossing your favorite sweater when it gets a hole, try patching it up! Getting into the habit of repairing or repurposing before throwing out an item will quickly become a habit that can reduce waste. If you don’t know how to sew, ask your coworkers, family, neighbours for a tutorial, or try youtube – it’s much easier than you’d think!
7. Sign Up for Online Bills: Sign up for online bills and post a “No Junk Mail” sign on your mailbox. If you live in a condo or apartment and can’t always control the amount of junk mail you get, make sure you’re recycling all that excess paper properly so it’s not ending up in a landfill.
8. Donate Instead of Tossing:If there’s something you simply can’t use, donate it!
For items that are too far gone, think about how to use them before you toss. Do you have a crafty friend who may be able to repurpose old trinkets or household items you’re ready to say goodbye to? Even if some items end up in the trash, your shift in actively finding a new home or use for old items is a huge step toward a reduced waste lifestyle.
9. Take Inventory of the Things you Buy the Most: Take an active role in tracking the items you use the most and do some research to determine whether they can be replaced with a more sustainable option.
Toothbrushes, razors, and toilet paper are items we cannot give up, but there are sustainable options available. We love the Well Kept Safety Razor, f.e.t.e. Toothbrushes and the No Tox Life Dish Bar.
10. Switch to Dryer Balls: One of our favourite reusable swaps are Dryer Balls. They’re the easiest swap imaginable, can be used again and again, provide a chemical-free alternative to dryer sheets, and they take up room since they can be stored in your dryer when not in use. We love putting a few drops of essential oils on them before a cycle for luxurious smelling laundry.
11. Ask your Network for Help: Need a dress for a wedding or an ugly Christmas sweater for a party? Instead of buying something new, ask your friends, family, and coworkers if they have anything you can borrow. If you can’t find something to borrow, look into renting opportunities, where you can get a new dress or suit without having to buy new.
12. Pack your Lunch: Single use take out containers contribute to our landfills as most of the packaging is not recyclable or is tossed away incorrectly. Packing your lunch in a reusable container or snack bag will reduce the waste you create each day. It also helps you make healthier choices and will save you a ton of money!
13. Make use of our Sharing Economy: We’re so lucky to live in an era where communication lines are unencumbered and we can take advantage of a sharing economy. Instead of buying the typical large-scale consumable products we’ve been conditioned to believe are a right of passage, try taking advantage of shared resources!
Ditch the responsibility, waste, and cost associated with owning a car, bike, or maybe even one day, single-family homes. We love ride-sharing opportunities like communal bike programs, car-sharing subscriptions, uber pool and shared lyft, and of course, classic public transit. Sharing transportation and other larger-scale necessities are a huge lifestyle change, and may be something you need to work toward, but they can have the largest impact, lowering your carbon footprint significantly, and saving you the big bucks!
14. Get a Library Card: Say good-bye to purchasing books and get a library card. It’s free, you don’t have to worry about paying for a book that you don’t like, or storing them after you’re done reading! It’s also a great way to support your local community. For the build up of books sitting on your shelf, consider donating them to your library or passing them onto friends to read next!
15. Use Old Clothes as Rags: Instead of tossing old clothes that are past their prime, tear them up and turn them into a cleaning rag! Some of the best rags are old shirts from sports teams, gym class or uniform shirts, which can be used and washed again and again, cutting down on the need for disposable paper towels.
16. Make this the Year You try the Diva Cup: The Diva Cup is a game changer. Think about the number of period products someone uses in their lifetime, the amount of waste it produces, and the harsh chemicals found in most of them – yuck!
This annual investment (each cup lasts roughly one year) might take some time to get used to, but will save you money and reduce waste. If you’re reluctant to try it out, read a bit more about some of the common reservations and how to overcome them.
17. Buy Household Cleaners in Bulk: Instead of buying a new bottle after new bottle of household cleaners, shop in bulk! Attitude offers laundry, dish, and hand soap in bulk, saving you money and plastic.
18. Be Mindful of Packaging: When grocery shopping, take a look at your cart and see which items you could purchase without packaging.
For example, do you need to put your produce in plastic bags? How many single use coffee pods are you buying? Is that 12 pack of plastic water bottles necessary? Try going for bulk items that can be placed in a reusable container or try mesh produce bags for your veggies. Not everything can be package-free, but mindfulness is the first step. For items that can’t be avoided, get to know your municipalities recycling regulations so that you can be mindful of where you’re putting your packaging when you’re done with it.
19. Purchase a Reusable Water Bottle and Coffee Cup: Yes, you need both! If you already have one (Woohoo!) commit to bringing it with you everywhere. This will have a huge impact on the planet as coffee cups go straight to the landfill (not recycling)! Most coffee shops will fill your reusable mugs and sometimes offer a small discount.
20. Keep a Reusable Shopping Bag in Your Purse or Backpack: And your car, and desk, and entryway, and…we’re kidding (kind of). It’s one of life’s great mysteries, but somehow even the most committed of us forget our reusable shopping bags from time to time. The best solution is to have a bag with you wherever you may need one. We especially love Baggu bags because they’re spacious enough for large shopping loads and fold up nicely for storage. Plus they’re super cute and stylish!
Is there anything we forgot? Let us know in the comments below!
Kathy is the E-mail & Content Manager for Well.ca. In addition to creating engaging emails and web content, she’s passionate about writing, traveling and trying new food and restaurants.
I save any packaging I feel can be reused, wash it and store many things in them. Example-the bags in cereal boxes, recycle the box and wash the bag from the inside. They work so well for fruits and vegetables in the fridge. Or the frozen vegetable zip up bags, reuse them for so many things that need to be closed tightly.. I have reduced my use of plastic one time use zip lock baggies by a lot and I’ve saved money by buying fewer plastic baggies.
If you keep a couple of stashed bags in your purse, when you eat out you can pop the leftovers in them for tomorrow’s lunch.