You only have to look down your street on trash pick-up day to see exactly how wasteful we can be. And that's not always a bad thing. Disposable products make our lives simpler and more efficient .. after all, who's going to lug their fine china and glassware to the park for their kid's birthday party?
But with ever-growing ecological concerns and an ever-present desire of most homeowners to be more frugal, taking a look at disposables used in our homes is a great place to start.
Consider some of these areas you may and may not have thought about to reduce your household waste:
- Start composting to give new life to table scraps, coffee grounds, and even those annoying newspapers that end up in your mailbox every week.
- Switch from paper towels to reusable cloth towels and napkins. Stow your paper towels in your pantry or farther away from the sink if you're tempted to grab one.
- Buy in bulk. Buying one large bag of rice, for example, instead of several smaller bags can reduce waste.
- Invest in reusable containers for food storage, and stop having to buy all those disposable plastic baggies.
- Cancel magazine subscriptions you don't actually read. Take it a step further, and contact companies that send you unwanted catalogs. They're looking to save money, too. If you're polite, they'll remove you from their mailing lists.
- Opt for paperless billing, and pay your bills online.
- Purchase a durable, reusable water bottle. There are about a zillion options out there. Find one you love, and reduce your plastic waste.
- Purchase reusable grocery bags to reduce your dependence on plastic bags for produce and other groceries.
- Switch from pump soap to bar soap, which uses significantly less packaging. Did you know? You can even find bar-style shampoos.
- Eat out at your favorite restaurant rather than take home all those styrofoam containers.
- Reuse worn out clothing as rags or even stuffing for your pet's favorite pillow.
- Wireless isn't always better. It's convenient, sure. But wireless appliances and tools require expensive and hazardous batteries. Stick with the cords, and you save yourself a lot of money and the environment some strain.
- Donate old items instead of tossing them in the trash, including clothing, furniture, cell phones, eye glasses, and just about anything else.
- Use fewer cleaning products .. and in smaller amounts. You probably really don't need to use as much detergent as the box says you do. And your dirty windows can still be cleaned with some water and a rag. Reduce the amount of cleaning materials you use, and notice a difference on your grocery spending.
- Have a new addition on the way? Cloth diapers come in tons of styles for a variety of different parents. See if you can find something that works for you, and save a ton on disposable diapers.
- Energy-efficient light bulbs use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Switch, and greatly reduce the number of bulbs you throw out.
You don't have to do it all at once, of course, and you should only get rid of what you're comfortable with. If you don't want to give up soda but have no problem switching to cloth napkins, go for it. The small changes really do add up over time .. to less waste, fewer trash bags to throw out (and pay for), and more money in your pocket every month.
Reducing waste is about more than garbage, of course. Saving energy and water can save you tons of money over the years and can help the environment, too. Schedule a Houston home energy audit to find out where your home is falling short.