1. Reuse items you already have
Before purchasing new items, consider if you already have something in your home that could be used. One impactful change you can make is to swap single-use paper towels for cloth rags. To make your own, take holey or old towels or clothes and cut them to use for cleaning. By thinking creatively, you can also easily repurpose items into whatever you need. For example, you could turn your broken wire basket into a light fixture.
2. Educate yourself on how to recycle correctly
Confused about what can and cannot be recycled in your home? Search the Yampa Valley Recycles app at www.yampavalleyrecycles.org or download the free mobile app to search hundreds of items and find out where to recycle or donate them locally. You can also avoid buying items that cannot be recycled by knowing what is accepted locally and checking the label of the product before you purchase.
3. Learn how to repair
Prolonging the lifespan of an item will help reduce your waste in a multitude of ways. By fixing a broken zipper, gluing the chip back on your mug, or repairing your table’s broken leg, you can maximize the lifespan while also putting off purchasing a replacement. This skill will not only reduce the waste generated from your home, but it will also save you money.
4. Choose reusables
One easy way to create less waste is by packaging your food, cleaning supplies, homemade beauty products and other items in reusable containers instead of single-use plastic. You can also repurpose containers you already have. Some examples include using small glass jars for leftovers, plastic ice cream containers with a screw-on lid to hold nails, and large mason jars for bulk food.
5. Invest in quality
Choose items that will stand the test of time. By investing in products that use higher quality materials and are built to last, you will be able to use the product longer. Avoid products made of cheap materials that will degrade quickly or break easily. You can also look for companies that offer a lifetime guarantee or that have repair options if your item breaks.
6. Make your own
Consider making your own toothpaste, cleaning solution and other household and personal care products. See below for simple recipes for toothpaste and an all-purpose cleaner.
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
- 25-30 drops of food-grade peppermint essential oil
Place all ingredients in a glass container with a sealable lid (small mason jars work well). Mix until you obtain your desired consistency. If you prefer a more liquid consistency, add more coconut oil. If you want a more solid consistency, adjust the baking soda. For easy removal from the container, use a small scoop or spoon to scrape it out and onto your toothbrush.
All-purpose cleaning solution
- Distilled white vinegar
- Scented essential oil (optional)
Fill a reusable spray bottle halfway with water. Fill the remainder with distilled white vinegar. Add 15-20 drops of scented essential oil, if desired.
7. Choose minimal packaging
When shopping at the grocery store, choose items that have the least amount of packaging. An easy switch is buying loose-leaf lettuce instead of greens packaged in single-use plastic. When shopping for other items in your home, choose items made of recycled materials or items that can be recycled or repurposed.
8. Look for secondhand options or borrow
Need a tool or material you don’t own? Check your local secondhand shop or online resale sites for items that can meet your needs. You can also borrow from a neighbor. Have extra tools that you don’t use that often? Create a tool library for your neighborhood to share tools and equipment.
9. Start a compost system
Composting is an impactful way to decrease your waste that goes to the landfill. In our area, we don’t currently have curbside compost pick-up for residents or businesses, and wildlife and our high-mountain climate can present challenges for composting at home. However, here are some composting methods that have been proven to work locally on the household scale: vermicomposting (composting with worms), bokashi, or an in-vessel system enclosed by an electric fence. For more information on these options and other organics recycling systems, visit www.yvsc.org/waste-diversion/food-waste/home-composting.
10. Donate items you no longer need
One of the easiest ways to give your useful items another life before they are recycled or landfilled is to donate them. You can take things like clothing, furniture, household items and lots more to a local secondhand store or consignment shop to be loved again. Bonus: when consigning items, you can gain back some money in the process.