Reduce, reduce, reduce 10 steps toward zero.
In case you didn’t know, GLDC has expanding its branding and online social media services. This week has added a series of new clients, and we have been busy around the office trying to get some of the work cleared out before the holiday weekend. At the same time, I have been having multiple discussions surrounding reducing one’s waste. It seemed like a great time to offer up a “classic” blog post that I published a while ago.
Zero waste. It sounds impossible. One problem that we encountered when addressing setting up the new office, was trash pickup. We found that as a commercial site, we couldn’t get Cleveland trash pickup. We didn’t really want a giant ugly dumpster on the property that would end up being much more than we needed. The solution: a zero waste office. It remains to be seen if it can really be done or not. We are already working on it for our home. Today is trash day, and for the second week in a row, we don’t have a bag of garbage to put out. But can that sort of curb on trash be translated to an office setting? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, here are 10 steps that everyone can try to work toward a zero waste life.
- Cook at home. Home cooking means that you know what goes into your food. You can control portions and deal with the waste. Additionally, take out food comes in containers that are often hard to recycle and often end up in the trash; and even recyclers don’t want that pizza box.
- Reduce. Buy products that have little or no packaging. Yes, it freaks out the cashier when you set a handful of tomatoes on the belt with no little plastic bag, but they will get over it. If you can, buy in bulk. If large packages don’t fit your lifestyle (how long will it take me to use 25 lbs of sugar?), you can visit bulk departments at the supermarket. Take along your own containers, and you effectively eliminate packaging all together. And don’t forget to bring along your reusable shopping tote and avoid the plastic bags!
- Recycle. While recycling may not be available curbside, there are plenty of drop off spots. I have heard that you can even drop off Styrofoam at Heinan’s. When you make the effort to go zero waste, you start to see just what can be recycled, and what can’t. This will eventually impact your buying choices-a good thing.
- Reuse. Why buy Tupperware when those margarine containers are perfectly reusable? I even started washing ziplock backs and reusing them. Yes, my partner laughs at me, but who cares? Before replacing that broken appliance, see if it can be repaired rather than thrown out.
- Compost. Organic materials compost and make great food for your plants. The garden will be better off, and so will the planet.
- Take your own cup for coffee. If you buy coffee on the go, add it up. Every coffee or latte usually has a cup, a lid, and often a gripper. Where does it go when you finish? Bring your own mug and reduce all that waste.
- Skip bottled water. Plastic bottles are bad for the environment. Why recyclable, most are destined for the landfill, so skip them. There is plenty of new research out that says they leach chemicals into the water and lots of bottled water companies are just packaging tap water anyway. Invest in a good steel water bottle if you drink a lot.
- Buy better stuff. Why many goods may be cheaper, buy products that are sure to last. If you don’t need them anymore, they can be donated. Antiques are around, because we used to value craftsmanship and quality. Buy goods that will last longer than you need them to and donate, reuse or give them away when you no longer need them.
- Have a garage sale. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You will be hugely surprised just how true that is if you have a garage sale. Put a price on something and people want it. You will find that even the stuff that charity shops don’t really want, you can sell at a garage sale for a couple of bucks.
- Adopt the one in one out rule. We have a strict policy of not adding to our household. For every new item that comes into our home, another goes out. This system is perfect for us. We no longer amass things that we don’t need. If we get a new item of clothing or new coffee mug, then another has to go out. This keeps us getting rid of items while they are still usable and can be donated or shared, instead of waiting for 10 years when those jeans are so out of style that no one will get any more use out of them.
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