These days we generate more trash than ever, at a huge impact to our landfills and the environment. Many of us are taking action – seeking to reduce waste in our daily lives.
There’s more to this story though. There’s a movement going on right now, and it’s all about having quality items that we take pleasure in reusing. Check out these tips on how to dispose less and use items that you enjoy:
Tip 1: Use real plates, cups, and cutlery, instead of disposable
I get it – when hosting a big group, using disposable plates and cups seems easier – no scraping or washing – just toss everything at the end of the event. But if you’re anything like me, seeing a big pile of trash is not easy on your conscience. I’ve found that reusable stackable plates, cups, and cutlery are only slightly more work than disposable, and they’re more enjoyable for all involved. What makes stackable dinnerware easier than using your everyday stuff? The light-weight stackability. 18 stackable plates can be picked up in one fell swoop and slipped into the dishwasher more easily than china. Same for cups. And while you do have to empty the dishwasher and put them away, you’re making up that time by the trip to the store you didn’t have to take. You never run out, since they’re in your cupboard. You’ll save a little money, AND your guests will have a more pleasurable experience eating and drinking from sturdier, more attractive dinnerware.
Tip 2: Buy yourself some baskets
A couple years ago, I bought my first African market basket. I now own 5 of them and use them for all sorts of things. First and foremost – grocery shopping. Many of us have already switched from using disposable grocery bags to using our own reusable bags, but when you use these baskets you don’t even need plastic for produce. I put my fruits and vegetables directly into one of my baskets as I shop and never have to bring any of those annoying plastic baggies home. The baskets hold up to 40 lbs which means I can usually fit almost all my groceries into 2 baskets, carried in one trip. The structured sides mean everything nestles in nicely without as much stacking. And they look so darn pretty, when I’m walking around with my basket full of fresh, unwrapped fruit and veggies I feel like I’m on an old-fashioned movie set. Beautiful, sustainable, convenient and pleasurable to use – doesn’t get much better than that. You can find them online, at many natural grocers, farmers markets, or free trade gift shops.
Tip 3: Use lunchboxes and ditch the baggies
Eliminate the need for plastic bags and brown paper sacks by using reusable food storage. My favorite are these bento-style lunch boxes that allow you to easily pack several food items into a neat little reusable package. My children will never experience the bruised apple squished into a soggy PB&J sandwich that comprised most of my childhood school lunches – every day I load my children’s bento boxes with food that stays separated and pristine in its own compartment. And the fact that the boxes have 5 compartments mean I’m usually trying to give them 5 separate food items. More variety. No smushing. No garbage. Kids today have no idea how good they’ve got it.
Tip 4: Buy quality goods and replace less often
In this day and age of cheap manufactured goods, it’s hard to resist the temptation to buy less expensive “disposable” items, throw them out when they’re broken, and replace with a new item. But by replacing that broken coffee pot instead of repairing it, you’re adding to the landfill and wasting money. Better to invest in higher quality items that last for years – not only will they last longer, but they’ll be more enjoyable and beautiful in your home. KB Home believes in this whole-heartedly – working with the highest quality partners and materials to ensure that homes withstand the test of time.
Tip 5: Avoid takeout
I hadn’t been to a national fast-food restaurant in a few years, until I recently visited one of the biggest chains. I could not BELIEVE how much trash our family generated for 2 adults and 2 small children. Cardboard boxes, plastic wrap, plastic salad bowl with plastic dressing container, napkins, paper cups, straws, tray liners, wrappers, plastic toys. We generated a small bag of garbage in just one lunch. Can’t even imagine how much trash those places generate in a day.
Tip 6: Don’t buy bottled water
Summers where we live are hot, and with two small children, we always travel with water bottles of the reusable kind. Bottled water made a huge splash in the beverage industry when it first launched, but many folks have already wised up to the fact that the convenience is wasteful – both on the environment and on your bank account. Not to mention, there are so many cute, fun, enjoyable water bottles on the market that you can refill with filtered water straight from the fridge. Check out this handy guide to the best and safest reusable water bottles and have fun shopping.
Tip 7: Shop at second-hand stores
Thrift stores have their pros and cons. You’ve got to wade through a lot of worn, dated, and less-than-desirable stuff. The pros – you can find some beautiful, well-crafted, expensive items that are unique, less expensive, and friendlier on the environment. Shopping for second-hand furniture and décor is especially rewarding. I picked up two cane side chairs like these for $60, had them reupholstered for $200, and ended up with two beautiful vintage pieces that are high quality, stylish, and original. Savings: $800. Impact on the environment: zero. You can also check with your handy dandy Hand Me Down Network to see if they have any useful items you can re-purpose in your home.
These tips are just the beginning – there are many more ways we can reduce waste. We’d love to hear how you and your family minimize your impact on the environment – please share your story with us below.