Turtles are dying. Every year, plastic waste in the ocean kills over 1 million marine animals (including mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds). These plastics are from us. Turtles didn’t use disposable cups, straws or bags and throw them in the ocean.
Is there anything we can do to save them? Yes, there is!
How to Reduce Waste at Home
Do you spend a lot of time at home like me? Then, it’s the perfect place to start reducing waste.
You don’t have to leave your house to save the planet. Isn’t this great?
Check out these 10 super easy tips you can try at home!
1. Avoid buying bottled water.
If you live in a developed country where you can drink tap water without getting sick, great! You probably won’t need to buy bottled water. And you’re already eco-friendly. Yay!
But, if you are in a country where you can’t trust the water quality or local pipe system, buying bottled water may look like a safe choice. In a long run though, using a filtering system or installing a water purifier will save both money and the environment.
2. Recycle plastic bottles.
Let’s say you had to buy plastic bottles. (I know it’s impossible to avoid, no matter how much you try.)
The next thing you can do is simply recycle them. One tip to easily recycle plastic bottles is to use a box. We all get random boxes from online shopping. Choose one and place the empty box next to your trash bin. Since plastic bottles don’t smell, you can collect them in the box and take them out on recycling day.
3. Reuse jars.
Whenever you go to a trendy café, you will find drinks in mason jars. It’s both Instagrammable and eco-friendly.
Instead of throwing away used jars, why don’t we turn them into pretty cups? We can also reuse them to store home-made jams or if you’re feeling adventurous, Lutenitsa (delicious vegetable chutney that I loved in Bulgaria.)
4. Use eco bags for grocery shopping.
I admit that sometimes plastic containers or bottles are hard to avoid. But it’s relatively easy to avoid plastic bags.
Plastic bags continue to severely disrupt the environment. They enter the soil, release toxic chemicals and eventually break down into the Earth. As a result, animals consume plastic bags and often choke and die.
To prevent this, all you need is a cute eco bag (or reusable shopping bag) for grocery shopping.
5. Buy only enough to eat.
We all love eating delicious things. One of my workout motivations is to eat pancakes. I need them!
But we can still do better. Food waste rots and emits methane, which is a greenhouse gas.
Try to buy only enough to eat, so that we don’t have to waste anything. Buy groceries once a week, using a shopping list.
6. Learn to compost at home for your garden.
If you end up buying too much food to finish, try composting at home.
Instead of sending waste to landfills, it will nourish your garden.
7. Make DIY eco-friendly cleaner.
Instead of buying household cleaners, try making your own at home.
All you need is vinegar. Vinegar is great at killing mold and degreasing. You can even safely clean your washer with vinegar.
8. Cancel the mail.
It’s 2020, we can get everything online and read it on our phones.
And let’s be honest, we throw most of our mails away without even reading them anyways. How about canceling mail today?
9. Repair socks or clothes instead of throwing them away.
When your socks or clothes get holes, try to repair them.
It may sound tedious, but you can fix them easily. All you need is a needle and some thread.
If you’re not so dexterous, you can still use them as a rag instead of wet wipes, rather than throwing them away.
10. Avoid buying too much.
It’s difficult to avoid shopping when we’re surrounded by shopping malls.
I used to love shopping and having lots of things. But when I sold, recycled and gave away everything I owned, I felt great.
You can take my word for it. Being a minimalist feels pretty liberating.
How to Reduce Waste at Work
We spend most of our time at work.
At least 8 hours a day, with an hour of commuting on top of it.
Find out 10 ways to reduce waste at work!
1. Walk or bike to work.
According to the Census Bureau, the national average commute time in the U.S. is 26.6 minutes.
This means the average daily commute takes about an hour (53.2 minutes) as a round trip.
If there’s a way to save money and get in shape on the way to work, would you give it a try?
It’s not some magic pill. The answer is walking or biking to work.
2. Carpool with coworkers if work is too far.
Nobody wants to sweat before work. And, if your company is too far, it may be impossible to walk or bike there.
Then, how about carpooling with your coworkers or even Uber/Lyft? You can save the earth and your wallet at the same time.
3. Save files on the cloud or email instead of printing.
The idea of cloud computing is from the 1960s. But it was first used in 2006.
Is it still 2020? Yes it is!
Save files on the cloud and email files instead of printing them.
4. Print double-sided pages if you have to print.
Even if we try so hard to avoid printing, it’s impossible to avoid 100%.
Print double-sided pages when we have to.
Your boss wouldn’t mind since you’re saving resources.
5. Reuse file folders or binders.
When we’re surrounded by tons of paper, we will need to organize them, using folders or binders.
How about reusing them? Simply recycle old paper that is no longer necessary, and reuse the old folders and binders.
6. No need to buy a million different pens or highlighters.
It’s so tempting to buy pretty and different colored pens or highlighters.
Do we really need them though? Take a moment to think before we buy.
7. Bring a reusable cute lunchbox.
This may be a bit of work.
But I highly recommend it to stay healthy, save money, and reduce waste.
Bring a cute reusable lunchbox to work! You can enjoy healthier home cooked meals and save the turtles.
8. Use a mug or tumbler instead of disposable cups.
Do you need coffee at work? Because, I do!
“Every day, once a day, give yourself a present,
like two cups of good hot black coffee.”
Instead of using disposable cups, use your own mug or tumbler at work. You can just wash it once work is over.
9. Recycle at work too, especially paper.
This is very basic. Recycle at work too.
It’s full of papers! It’s like a gold mine for recycling.
10. Turn off everything after work.
When you’re the last person to leave work, you must be very motivated.
I hope you get promotion you deserve. Just remember to turn off everything after.
How to Reduce Waste While Traveling
It is not easy to reduce waste while traveling. Because traveling itself can be a bit wasteful.
We can still try our best to reduce waste!
1. Pack a portable tumbler cup or portable water filter.
In other countries, it’s hard to find water fountains or reliable tap water.
So, bringing your own tumbler or water filter would be a wise choice. You can avoid getting sick from water and reduce plastic bottle usage.
2. Stay at Airbnbs, more than hotels.
Hotels nowadays try to reduce waste with their “save our planet” signs, which give you the option to reuse towels.
But still, there are many ways hotels impact the environment like CO2 emissions, CFC emissions, noise, smoke, odors, energy, water and food waste, and so on.
Staying at Airbnb may be better for the environment. (Check out our Airbnb Guide.)
Just make sure to respect local rules and neighborhoods though.
3. Learn local recycling methods.
Each country has different recycling methods.
They can give you new ideas you can use in your daily life.
For example, Koreans recycle by each material type such as plastic bottles, jars, cans, papers, used batteries, and food waste.
Since Korean law requires the purchase of a specialized garbage bag for general waste, it encourages people to recycle more. (Because recycling is free!)
At grocery stores in Korea, cashiers will ask if you’d like to put groceries in a specialized garbage bag.
4. Try to avoid flights.
Flying less is the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Try to take a ferry, train or bus. You might have more fun than a flight full of crying babies and drunk people.
5. Use e-boarding passes if you fly.
What if you have to fly somewhere?
Get an e-boarding pass, instead of printing it out.
It’s paperless and easier to coordinate things than holding your boarding pass on top of your other things.
6. Travel light by bringing a carry-on.
When you travel, pack light and bring a carry-on.
You will find it a lot easier to travel with a small backpack or suitcase, than carrying 2 large suitcases.
Especially in Europe, where the roads are made of cobblestone. (They look gorgeous, but make it hard to wheel around luggage.)
It’s also less fuel for the plane to burn. It’s win-win for everybody.
7. Shop ethically.
Shopping is fun, especially in other countries where so many unique, cute items can be found.
When you want to shop for yourself or your loved ones, how about shopping cruelty-free or at a local women’s guild?
Your choice can support both animals and people in need.
8. Say no to receipts.
This tip can be used in your home country too.
Simply say no to receipt when we buy something.
A good way to keep records of your spending is to use your smart phone. There are tons of apps out there that can help, like this one.
9. Check out local farmer’s markets.
I love local markets. There are two types: (a) fancy farmer’s markets for tourists, and (b) real local markets.
Fruits and vegetables may not look as pretty as the ones you see in the States, but they taste delicious!
Everything is pretty cheap too (or more expensive at a fancy one for tourists).
10. Try local vegan food.
I’m not a full vegetarian, but I always try something new, especially with vegetables.
You will be surprised how delicious veggies can be. They’re both healthy and yummy. And you feel great after!
How To Reduce Waste During Holidays
Who doesn’t love the holidays? Perhaps, we love them too much.
According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the holidays.
Take a look at easy ways to reduce waste during holidays.
1. Buy eco-friendly gifts.
Buy eco-friendly gifts for your loved ones this year.
They could be anything, from utensils and straws, to reusable non-plastic water bottles. Even cute dresses made with sustainable materials.
2. Pack gifts in an eco-bag or pouch, instead of wrapping them.
It’s best not to wrap them at all.
But, if you want to present your gift nicely, try packing it in a reusable eco-bag or pouch.
Your gift package itself will look pretty and be useful too.
3. Send electronic cards, not paper cards.
Analog and retro bring a feeling of nostalgia. But still, try to enjoy the fruits of technology.
Instead of sending paper cards to your family and friends, how about electronic cards or a video message?
You can simply record a video on your phone and send it. They’ll love it more than you think.
4. Dry flowers or buy potted plants.
Flowers are romantic gifts that most people love.
Instead of non-sustainable flowers that wilt quickly, try drying flowers or buying a planter.
They will last a lot longer and bring joy for a lot longer.
5. Enjoy experiences together, more than buying things for each other.
Buying gifts is good and all, but enjoying our experiences together would be nicer.
What’s good if we can’t even enjoy each other’s company during holidays?
Spend more time making memories and share the holiday spirit!
6. Cook the right amount of food.
Most of the 28 billion pounds of edible food thrown away each year is wasted during holidays.
We all love eating during holidays. But try to cook only enough for everybody to finish.
It’s sad to see those delicious foods cooked with hard work wasted.
7. Set your table with reusable tableware.
We all dislike doing the dishes, but try to set the table with cloth napkins, reusable dishes, glasses and silverware.
They simply feel better, while reducing waste.
8. Put leftovers in recyclable containers.
Even though you try to cook just enough, it’s hard to plan perfectly.
If there are leftovers, put them in recyclable containers.
You can eat them later, or share them with your guests or neighbors.
9. Reuse decorations.
There’s no reason to keep buying decorations that are new, yet the same, over and over.
Decorations are just for the holiday spirit, right?
Reuse old decorations. No one will notice the difference. If they do, you can talk about memories together.
10. Discontinue catalogs.
Same as canceling mail. Stop getting catalogs. It may be nice to flip through a physical catalog, but they usually end up in a corner gathering dust.
Do we really need them? Don’t we mostly shop online? By canceling catalogs, we can save those poor trees.
So far, we checked out 40 easy ways to reduce waste.
Every startup says “we want to make the world a better place.” by selling their apps or products.
You can actually do it by making small changes every day.
I hope this guide was helpful and please leave a comment below if you were able to try any of the tips!
Find out more ways to shop ethically!