Recycle. Sound obvious, right!
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already curbside recycling. But, take the time to it right! Here is a comprehensive guide to recycling to get you started. Then, move to recycle your “hard to recycle” waste. Bring all plastic film to grocery store drop-offs. Take electronics and toner to an appropriate center. Instead of discarding your mattress, find a recycler that will refurbish it. You’ll find yourself moving into a mindset where any time you are throwing something away, you’ll research whether or not it can somehow be recycled.
Compost your food waste.
Compost your food waste. If you don’t have ready access to an industrial composting facility, start a home compost in your backyard or a small worm compost system that is apartment friendly. Focus on composting as much of your food and yard waste as possible. You’ll find other items that you could consider composting as well (such as an old 100% cotton t-shirt). In some cases, these items are compostable, and you may decide it makes sense to put it in your compost bin. In other cases, you may decide that the t-shirt isn’t optimal for your compost (i.e., because it carries pigments with it) and instead find a recycler that accepts cotton for reuse in other items.
When you do buy something, look for Zero Waste companies and buy for effective
Consider the overall end of life of an item and its packaging when you make a purchase. Opt for aluminum cans over plastic or glass bottles (aluminum is endlessly and profitably recyclable). Plastic milk jugs are more natural to recycle into productive raw materials than are poly-lined milk cartons (which typically get downcycled into insulation). Look for packaging that is a single material (i.e., plastic with plastic, paper with plastic) versus mixed (such as those boxes with a clear plastic window on it).
Reduce what you buy and consume.
With every purchase you make, ask yourself, “Do I need or truly want this item?” If the answer is no, consider skipping it. Many of us have shoes, clothes, spices, kitchen accessories. That we’ve used only once or never at all, start by skipping these purchases, often made on a whim.
Shop bulk and refillable.
More and more mainstream groceries now have a bulk dry food aisle (not to mention all of the incredible, independently owned bulk food stores that are popping up!). Did you know in most places that you can bring your containers to these stores? Please bring in your vessels, tare them with a cashier before you shop (have them write the weight of the jar on it), and then the cashier can ensure the container’s weight is subtracted at checkout. In addition to bulk foods, you can also buy bulk lotion, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, and cleaners in some zero-waste stores.