25 Ways to Reduce Waste

Sophomore Cate Van Luven shows off both her reusable water bottle and reusable Starbucks cup.

Mary Dill

Sophomore Cate Van Luven shows off both her reusable water bottle and reusable Starbucks cup.

Mary Dill, Senior Staff Writer

If you look around you, plastic is everywhere. It’s at the store, in your home, outside, and now, even in the air you breathe. Think of the plastic bags you get from the grocery store or the shampoo and conditioners you purchase in plastic containers.

Some of the plastic in our world can and is meant to be used over and over again, but the harsh reality is that a majority of  plastic cannot be used more than once. Therefore, it becomes part of the endless cycle of waste. Unfortunately, plastic is not the only contributor to the piles of trash, that will take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

Paper cups, old clothing, and improperly recycled items are also high on the list of products that are extremely wasteful. So what can you do about that? Here are 25 suggestions of simple ways you reduce waste in your life.

1. Never leave the house without your reusable water bottle

Reduce your plastic waste by simply bringing a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go.

2. Bring your own reusable cup for coffee

If you buy coffee every day, that is five cups being added to our landfills.

Earth Angel Cate VanLuven suggests “bringing a reusable coffee cup, and asking the baristas to make your drink in your reusable cup, to avoid wasting single-use paper and plastic cups. Most are happy to do it, and a lot of coffee shops have some super cute reusable cups you can buy from them!”

3. Avoid purchasing items in single-serving packages

Items like tea and coffee all can be purchased and packaged loose.

“It might take some extra time to make, but it’s definitely worth it,” Cate said in reference to her morning tea.

4. Bring your lunch to school in a reusable bag

Avoid single-use paper products by bringing your own lunch to school, using Tupperware, and a reusable lunch bag.

5. Bring Tupperware when getting takeout

Ask your local restaurant if you can bring your own reusable Tupperware, to package your takeout meals in.

6. Try to find products that are packaged in glass or reusable containers

When grocery shopping, keep an eye out for products that are sold in glass bottles or jars, so you can reuse them or return them to the merchant.

7. Shop for food in bulk, or from local producers

Avoid small amounts of food in large packages and shop for your food in bulk. Many local farmers and producers don’t use much plastic packaging so purchasing from them is always a good option.

8. Bring reusable shopping bags for your groceries

Use reusable grocery bags, often sold in stores and available in fun patterns, instead of single-use plastic bags.

9. Carry reusable bags for produce as well.

If you purchase your produce from a grocery store, don’t forget to bring a reusable bag to hold your items. This will save several plastic bags from being thrown out.

10. Find some simple recipes, and cook your food at home.

Avoid plastic packaging altogether, and make your food at home. This a healthy alternative that serves as an opportunity to cut out processed foods!

11. Purchase shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush

The store Lush sells hair products in a bar form, similar to soap.

“Purchasing shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush is a really good way to prevent the use of single-use plastics from soap bottles. They also smell really good too!” Earth Angels Vice President Grace Bradley said.

12. Try to avoid buying things with any plastic packaging.

This option requires a lot of creativity, but look for items without any plastic packaging. Many companies are environmentally conscious and are taking steps to remove single-use plastic packaging, but you can also purchase gently used items from credible websites.

13. List your gently used items online.

Give the items you no longer need to someone who really cares! Websites and organizations like BuyNothing and Freecycle are both good websites for donations.

14. Purchase used clothing.

Instead of buying new, and mass-produced clothing, go thrifting with your friends, or shop for items on re-purposed items like Depop. Look for items with character, and sustainable qualities.

15. Donate your old or unwanted clothing to charities.

Rather than throwing your old clothing away, give it to someone who needs it by donating to charities like Goodwill or Salvation Army.

16. Look for durable items that can last a while.

When purchasing new items, look for things that are most likely to last you a while, rather than something that you will likely need to replace, and throw away.

17. Cancel print magazines or newspapers.

Save some trees by canceling or opting for the online version of your newspapers and magazines. Additionally, some companies offer free online versions of the magazines anyway!

18. Purchase E-Books.

Purchase online, or E-Books, rather than traditional paper copies. This is a great alternative because oftentimes online versions are cheaper and more accessible.

19. Attempt to stop any junk mail sent to you.

Oftentimes, stores and rewards programs send lots of junk mail, which is very wasteful. Ask to be taken off of the mailing list, or unsubscribe altogether.

20. Use both sides of a piece of paper, before throwing it away.

Make sure you get your use out of a piece of paper before you throw it away. Once the paper is completely used, it’s also a really great opportunity to make up-cycled crafts!

21. When eating out, ask your waiter to seat you without any paper napkins.

Before going to your table, request that you are seated at a table without any wasteful paper products. Make sure you leave a tip for your waiter for the trouble.

22. Use cloth napkins instead of paper towels.

Cloth napkins or cloth towels are a more sustainable alternative to wasteful and numerous paper towels. Carry one with you in case you ever need it.

23. Ditch the trash bags, and put the trash directly in the can.

This is a super-easy way to avoid single-use plastics. By putting your trash directly in the trash can, you can allow your trash to compost quicker, or reduce the production of trash bags.

24. Use non-disposable feminine hygiene products.

Use reusable and non-disposable feminine hygiene products is definitely a sacrifice, but it’s a really good way to prevent waste in your home. Look into items like maxi pads that can be laundered or menstrual cups like the Diva Cup.

25. Avoid purchasing disposable razor blades, or blade cartridges.

Opt for reusable, and better quality razors, to avoid the plastic waste that comes with disposable razors and razor blades. Choose more durable options for better quality as well!

Sustainable, and zero-waste living is a commitment, but trying some of these new techniques will help prevent waste, and build a better environment for the future!