Obsess over your garbage. Minimize the trash that leaves your house, because if you don’t, one day we’ll live in a world filled with post-consumer trash.
Anything you throw away as garbage will eventually end up in a landfill. If that trash is made of plastic or metal, it won’t ever biodegrade. It will just sit there.
Good land is scarce; it shouldn’t be used to store garbage. We’re starting to grasp this in America. But instead of reducing the amount of waste we produce, we’re exporting it overseas to countries like Ghana. This means that people from poorer nations are suffering from illnesses caused by the toxic chemicals in our garbage. We can’t keep pushing our waste problems onto someone else forever.
Recycling is gaining popularity, but it’s still not a permanent solution. While recycling is better than garbage, it’s truly only the lesser of two evils. Recycling is an energy-intense process, and materials can’t be recycled indefinitely, either.
The only true, sustainable way to handle your waste is to avoid producing it in the first place. So I hope you’ll make an effort to cut your waste as close to zero as possible.
Here are 5 tactics for cutting down on garbage:
Shop less. Now you’ll have less things to throw away. Consumer items are often wrapped in cardboard or plastic, and the product itself often can’t be recycled once it becomes obsolete. By not shopping, you’ll reduce waste immediately, while also saving money and time.
Reuse as much as possible. Don’t throw away something you can reuse for another purpose. For example, you can keep old jars to reuse for home-canning, or you can bring old grocery bags when you go shopping. Try to learn the art of makeshift and create your own solutions.
Shop second-hand. When you need to shop for non-perishable goods, buy second-hand online, in-person, or through a thrift store (2). You can get laptops, cameras, clothing, and furniture used instead of new. It avoids packaging while encouraging reuse.
Buy from local farmers markets. They use far less packaging. Vendors will generally let you bring your own reusable bags, and some vendors even let you reuse egg cartons and milk bottles. You can even buy straight from the farm.
Compost your food scraps. You can reduce the amount of food that goes to landfills while producing rich soil amendment. Composting helps recycle nutrients back into soil.
When you minimize your garbage, you will actually save money. By shopping at a farmers market, you’ll save money compared to eating out. When you buy second-hand, it’s cheaper than buying new. Finally, by not shopping altogether, you’ll save 100% of your money. Instead of using extra money for shopping, you can take time off work, or quit your day job altogether!
Financial benefits aside, I think minimizing our own garbage is a matter of personal responsibility. If we don’t take care of our own garbage, who will?
Do you think it’s possible to live a garbage-free life?