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In a World Full of Litter, Here are 5 Ways to Reduce Solid Waste at Home!

Updated: Aug 19

The average American produces 4.5 pounds of waste per day compared to the global average of 1.6 pounds per day. According to the World Bank, the daily waste generated per person averages 0.74 kilograms but ranges from 0.11 to 4.54 kg.

The United States and other developed countries account for just 16% of the world's population but about 34% of the world's waste. That is a huge figure considering that the world generates 2.01 billion tons of solid waste yearly.

The World Bank also notes that 33% of the solid waste produced annually is not managed eco-friendly and poses a great danger to the environment and species. It may be hard to believe that you are generating so much daily waste but consider how many minutes you spend in the shower.

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Dr. Mikhail Varshavski states that you only need 4 minutes to shower. The longer you leave the water running, the more you waste a natural resource. Moreover, you also waste electricity if you take a long hot shower.

When you peel potatoes, you produce solid waste; consider eating the wedges. Likewise, when you remove groundnut shells, you have waste to be used to create garden compost instead of garbage waste.

How You Can Reduce Solid Waste At Home

1. Support Restaurants that Use Recyclable Containers

The take-out culture is here to stay. Sometimes, it may seem impossible to cook at home every day. However, when you order food, you often find that the food comes packaged in a lot of plastic and other waste material. Environmentally-conscious individuals often look for and support businesses with eco-friendly packaging. For example, try going to a coffee shop that uses recyclable coffee cups or bring your own reusable cups. Places such as Starbucks offer incentives for using their branded reusable coffee cups. Also, if you have coffee tins at home, you can use them for storage. Get into the habit of supporting sustainable goods. Buy from retailers who sell eco-friendly items.

2. Purchase Odd-Looking Produce

Suppliers often discard fruits and vegetables because of their odd sizes and shapes. You can buy oddly shaped produce from farmer's markets, usually sold at lower prices. Small-sized potatoes can still make fries. So, no food shaming!

3. Buy Bamboo Toothbrushes Instead of Plastic

Some people change their toothbrushes four or even five times a year for hygienic reasons. Unfortunately, toothbrushes have a short lifespan and end up in the dumpsite as a landfill.

Next time you buy one, purchase a compostable bamboo toothbrush — it works just as well as a plastic toothbrush but doesn't create solid waste in the environment. If you have old plastic toothbrushes at home, consider using them for cleaning jobs. You can clean electronics and shoes with old brushes.

4. Buy Second-Hand Items & Donate Your Unwanted Goods

Vintage items can be great masterpieces. Old cars, fridges, and laptops sold on eBay can also serve you. We live in a society that believes things should be replaced frequently. But unless you desperately need to purchase a brand-new item, consider reusing or buying a second-hand one that still functions well.

The typical American household has on average 24 electronic devices. Millions of electronics are ready for disposal. Consider reusing large electronics or donating them to homeless shelters or other social programs.

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While reusing second-hand stuff is less common in the first world, consider Africa, where the second-hand clothing business is extensive. Old laptops and previously owned iPhones are popular items in stores, and used cars from Japan are frequently on the roads. Old car tires are cut in half and used as water troughs for farm cows.

Prefer not to keep an old version of something? The wise thing is to donate it, don't throw it away.

5. Reduce Paper and Buy in Bulk

When you go to the farmer's market, you may notice they rely on less packaging and will allow you to return last week's berry basket or egg carton for reuse. So, it is very eco-friendly to buy at your local farmers market because locally-produced food doesn't need to be packaged for shipping. Use non-plastic carrier bags to purchase items in bulk to reduce packaging waste and patronize stores that offer bulk purchases.

Also, buy or prepare food that will not have leftovers — cook what you need. A 2022 study conducted in Malaysia to find out the citizen's practices and insight towards solid waste at homes discovered that unconsumed food is a significant type of waste released into the environment. Food waste is high in moisture, causes odor from bacteria, and attracts disease carriers like roaches and mosquitoes.

Tip: Buy reusable grocery bags!

Each year, about 119 billion pounds of food is wasted in America, which translates to more than $408 billion of food being thrown away yearly, or 40% of all food.

This waste occurs at every stage of food production and distribution, from farmers to packers and shippers, to manufacturers and retailers, to the consumer's home. You can join food recovery programs or campaigns by Feeding America to be part of the solution.

The Final Message

By now, you're probably thinking of all possible ways to reduce solid waste at home. But be aware that it's not just the trash you see that is hazardous to the environment, it's also the trash you don't know you're causing. So, start by purchasing and using only what you need immediately and buy electronics with the ENERGY STAR® label.


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