Earth Day Tip #12: Dispose Those Disposables!

The average American creates about 4.5 pounds of waste each day, that amounts to almost 1,600 pound (726 kilos) a year! Yikes! Where does all that waste go? Well, they eventually end up in landfills and/or the oceans. It would be virtually impossible for us to create no waste at all but there are ways that we can eliminate the huge amounts of unnecessary waste that we send to landfills.

Here’s a breakdown of common trash that we send to waste away the years (I love puns) in landfills and how we can start eliminating it from our trash cans:

  • Paper products – Use less paper products whenever possible. When drying my hands, I make sure only to use 1 sheet of paper towel. My hands are the same dryness afterward and I’m using half the amount of paper towels that most people use. Same goes for napkins. If you’re a pretty neat eater, you could probably get away with not using a napkin at all during a meal and just wiping your mouth with the towel you used to dry your hands after you wash them. Another good way to not create excess paper waste: use handkerchiefs instead of tissue. Toss your hanky in with the wash and you’re all set!
  • Disposable utensils – When I used to work in the office, I kept a set of real utensils and a plate that I borrowed from the cafeteria in my desk. I never had to use plastic utensils or paper plates and it was just a quick wash to clean them. Likewise, I also kept a pair of chopsticks in my purse so that I wouldn’t have to use those cheap, chemically processed wooden chopsticks that so many Asian restaurants use and throw out after you use them that one time. After a year, I saved around 1000 plastic forks, knives and paper plates from going to a landfill.
  • Plastic or paper cups – At the office, I had a mug that I used for my daily teas and occasional coffee binges. I drank a lot of tea each day so my estimated saved waste from a landfill is probably 5 cups a day, or 1200 in a year. If you forget to bring in your own mug to the office, use the same cup for the day and send only one cup to the trash, instead of several.

*Please note that there are now great biodegradable disposable options on the market and are commonly available. If you need to use disposables, please use the these as they are the best disposable option for the environment. They work just as well as the conventional disposables, but with less harm to the environment.

  • Food waste – A huge portion of our waste is actually food waste, which we can prevent from reaching landfills by composting. Yes, composting! Turn your food scraps into nutrient-rich soil. Totally green and pretty darn awesome if you ask me! This was a project that I was very excited about and did a lot of research in. My story and a whole blog dedicated to composting next week so take the weekend to think about how sweet the idea of composting is, and learn how to start composting on Monday!

Really, waste is one major part of going green where we can make a huge difference and that’s one of the main reasons that I’m so into it. Making less waste helps us because we’re saving trash from landfills AND we’re saving money because we have to restock less often. You don’t really have to change your lifestyle to make less waste, you just have to be aware of what your daily waste habits are and try to reduce them.

If you have other ways to help eliminate excess waste from landfills, please share them here!

And please, think about the awesomeness that is composting over the weekend. More on that on Monday!

© Connie Hum 2009

1 Comment

  • mi-an says:

    paperless bank/credit card statements are so popular now that if you are not doing this, please do! stop the un-necessary (junk)mails! save the trees!

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