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Waste Reduction


Everyday decisions that we make have a significant impact on the environment. An average American generates 4.4 pounds of garbage per day.

These tips will show you how to make small, sustainable changes that can have a lasting impact on the environment.

1. For beverages on the go, you can use a reusable cup/bottle.

It is possible to have a reusable water container, but do you actually use it every day? It’s possible to put your reusable water bottle to good use, reduce waste and save money. You can also bring your own water, which will reduce the likelihood of you buying more expensive drinks on the go. You can get rid of the plastic bottles that are only used once. Although most bottles and cans can be recycled, it takes a lot of energy to produce them, transport them to the bottling plant, and then return them to the store to be purchased.

2. Reusable grocery bags are not only for groceries.

You may have a reusable grocery bag, just like a water bottle. However, it is often forgotten at home. To make it easier to remember them, write BAGS at the top of your grocery shopping list. Or keep them in the back of the car, so they’re not as easily forgotten. You can save some money by using plastic bags less often and getting a refund of 5 cents per bag from many grocery stores.

3. Buy wisely, and then recycle

Reduce the amount of waste by buying products with less packaging or packaging that can be recycled. You can’t recycle all plastics in Delaware. Make sure to check the labels before you buy. Delaware’s Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances states that containers marked with either a 1 or 2 are almost always accepted as they contain the highest-value resins. The Delaware Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances has accepted resins 4, 5, and 7 in all programs. Plastics marked with a 6/PS or 3/PVC are not generally recyclable in Delaware. Find out more information about the recycling programs in your local area.

4. It can be composted!

Did you know that 25% of your trash can be taken out of the waste stream and composted back into your yard? You can compost your vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, as well as coffee grounds, leaves, and grass clippings. Although composting is more labor-intensive than other lifestyle changes, you will see a positive return on your time and effort. You can have compost ready to go in three to twelve months, depending on the conditions. It will save you money on fertilizers, and you’ll probably see higher yields if you grow your vegetables yourself. You might find that your plants don’t need as much water because the organic matter acts as a sponge and absorbs more water. This can save you time and money.

5. Single-use containers for food and drink, as well as utensils, should be avoided.

Avoid single-use coffee cups, disposable napkins, straws, and utensils. Many businesses will offer discounts for you to bring your own mug. You can bring your own silverware to work, as well as a bowl, plate, and cup that you can wash and reuse. You can buy reusable metal straws instead of using plastic straws. These items, which are often made of plastic, were delivered by trucks and ended up in the landfill after we’ve used them once. Any effort we make to reduce the use of these products will have a significant impact.

6. Donate used items or buy second hand goods.

Consider buying used before you buy new. This can save you a lot of money. This could mean shopping at Goodwill for second-hand clothing, furniture, and repurposed materials or looking on Craigslist for deals on bicycles. You’ll also be helping local charities and saving the items from going to the dump by purchasing secondhand goods.

7. To reduce packaging, shop at local farmer’s markets.

It’s a win-win situation to shop at your local farmer’s market. You’ll not only be supporting local farmers, but you will also get fresher products than what you would find at a big-box supermarket. Local food doesn’t need to be shipped as far or refrigerated during transit. Local farmers are more likely to use less packaging, and they will happily accept your return of last week’s egg carton or berry basket for next week. It is possible to reduce packaging waste by shopping in bulk stores, but you will need to bring your own containers.

8. Reduce your paper use: Mail, receipts, magazines.

Most companies now offer bill payments via email. Some even offer incentives. E-receipts are becoming more popular as they are easier to lose and can be returned. You can now read your favorite magazines on your tablet or your computer with digital subscriptions. You will often find digital subscriptions to be a bit cheaper than hard-copy versions.

There are numerous companies that allow you to opt out of their marketing mailings.  Talk to your mail carrier if you receive a weekly package of grocery store circulars in the mail. They will cease delivering it.

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Jane S. King

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