10 Simple Tips to Reduce Waste

Every year we produce billion of tons of trash and accumulate piles of food, plastic, and paper waste.  (photo courtesy of banthebottle.net)

Every year we produce billion of tons of trash and accumulate piles of food, plastic, and paper waste.
(photo courtesy of banthebottle.net)

Waste is a chronic problem that affects all of us on a global level. FullCycle Energy Fund is on the forefront of the alternative energy movement and through our innovative technology we are transforming waste into clean energy that can power communities around the world.  Here our founder and general partner Ibrahim AlHusseini has shared 10 daily tips to greatly reduce our individual output.

1. Compost vegetable scraps instead of throwing them away and encourage your local grocery stores to donate excess food to food banks. 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 30 million tons of food are sent to landfills where they decay into methane (more noxious gas than carbon dioxide).  Reducing our food waste and using scraps responsibly can greatly reduce the amount of trash and methane produced.

2. Drink water from refillable bottles rather than disposable plastic bottles.

While many may think that plastic bottles are safe for the environment because of our recycling infrastructure, this is not necessarily the case.  Bizenergy reports that 86 percent of plastic bottles actually end up in landfills (that’s 60 million a day!).  Plastic not only resides in landfills, but pieces of bottles also make their way to waterways and oceans. CNN reports that in 2010 12.7 million metric tons of microscopic plastic particles end up in the oceans. Also, CNN quotes Jenna Jabmbek, lead author of the study, which is published in Science, statement that “plastic has increased 650% in the last 40 years.” This is troubling news because the more we use plastic, the more we release waste into our ecosystem that haunts the land and the oceans. With this in minds it is essential that we each take steps to reduce our use of plastic and find every alternative available.

3. Take your own mug to work. Bring coffee on the go and reduce your waste footprint.

In addition to eliminating plastic bottles, ditch the disposable coffee cups too. Take a reusable mug or thermos and enjoy every sip of your coffee without worrying about your waste footprint. Coffee shops, like Starbucks, reward customers with discounts, so bring a mug and reap the benefits!

4. Take reusable bags for shopping; keep some in your car so you always have them handy. 

You can even reduce your footprint through taking canvas shopping bags to the store. On average, every American uses 500 plastic shopping bags per year. Through consistent effort we can reduce our plastic bag usage and convert completely to reusable bags.

5. Avoid individually wrapped items, snack packs, and single-serve containers. 

When you’re hungry it’s easy to reach for the quick candy bar or packaged treat. While this may quickly satisfy your sugar craving, in the long run that piece of plastic will end up in the landfill for years.

6. Donate your used clothes to charity rather than throwing them away. 

“Fast Fashion” makes buying new clothes cheap and accessible. However, our love of new clothes and tendency to pitch outfits of the past into landfills wreaks havoc on landfills. Americans send 10 million tons of clothing to landfills every year and some fabrics can take up to 40 years to decompose! So instead of throwing away wearable items, donate them to charity and brighten someone’s day.

7. Be smarter about cleaning products. 

Use multipurpose alternatives like natural oil soaps, vinegar and baking soda.  Ditch the many bottles and go simple with one or two multipurpose cleaners.

8. Use cloth and sponges instead of paper towels. Replacing paper towels with cloths and sponges greatly reduces our paper waste and also helps tackle deforestation, one of our biggest environmental problems. According to the Sierra Club’s “Green Life” column, on average the 55 to 110 million trees are used in the production of more than 20 million tons of paper and only 11 million are actually recycled. Not only is our amount of waste enormous, but deforestation releases huge amounts of carbon that contribute to global warming. Check out the Conservation International’s blog, “The Forests that Fight Climate Change” to learn more about deforestation and insight on our future.

9. Use long lasting or electric razors instead of disposable ones.

 In our effort for smooth skin, Americans throw away 2.5 billion razors every year. You can get the same result with electric razors that last a longer time and help the environment through reducing your trash output.

10. Reduce your junk mail. 

Let’s face it,  junk mail haunts our mailbox and 44% of it is thrown away unopened. Contact the Direct Mail Association and remove your name from the list to reduce your paper disposal.

For more tips on reducing waste, especially in your home, check out Be a Johnson’s blog on zerowastehome.com. Johnson is the author of the bestseller Zero Waste Home (Zéro Déchet en francais) and in addition to echoing some of FullCycle Energy Fund’s tips also targets your home and workspaces. Treehugger.com also has quick tips on going zero waste in the kitchen and the bathroom.

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