We all want a better environment but that starts with each of us making simple changes in our every day lives. This challenge to reduce waste in your home will help all of us think more about our habits when it comes to garbage and help us reduce our carbon footprint.
Have you ever looked in the trash cans scattered around your house? What’s in there?
Paper towels and tissues? Food? Plastic packaging?
There is a lot of stuff in our garbage cans that doesn’t really need to be there, and EnviroMom’s Reduce Waste Challenge is going to help you reduce the amount of garbage your household generates down to one curbside can a month.
We started this challenge in July 2008 and have been keeping it going ever since.
We challenged our readers to do it and walked through each room of a typical household and identified the waste generated and ways to reduce, reuse and recycle the waste in order to keep household garbage destined for the landfill at a minimum.
The goal was to have a family of four only set out one 32-gallon can of garbage each month, and I figured that if I can do it, anyone can do it.
The key to this challenge is to take it s-l-o-w.
Don’t try to make all of these changes in one day or one week or even one month. Think of it as a journey, and focus on one room at a time. Take the time to incorporate new routines and systems into your household and talk to your family about why you are making these changes.
To clarify, when we talk about ‘one can’ we mean the garbage can you are currently putting out each week curbside for you collector to pick up.
It doesn’t matter what size it is — the reduce waste challenge is to see whether you can reduce the amount of garbage in that can. If your garbage hauler doesn’t offer once-a-month service, then challenge yourself to only fill that can 1/4 of the way each week.
What Is REDUCE, RECYCLE And REUSE?
Before we start we want to make sure you understand the principles of REDUCE / REUSE / RECYCLE!
REDUCE always comes first because it is the most important. If you reduce the amount of items you consume (or purchase), then you will generate less waste. This is good for the environment because it helps decrease the demand for manufactured items that might be unnecessary. If less stuff is manufactured, less industrial waste from factories will be generated and fewer emissions released from transporting the goods to their final destination.
REUSE comes in second place because it prolongs the life of stuff that has already been manufactured, whether you reuse it yourself or pass it along to someone else for reuse (and even stuff that is designed for one-time use can often be creatively reused). The more you can reuse items, the less they will be trashed or recycled. Recycling? That’s a problem, you ask? Well, yes and no. The recycling process requires lots of energy: from the trucks that transport the recyclables, to the sorting machines, to the factories and mills that process the recycling waste.
RECYCLE is always last because REDUCE and REUSE are less energy-intensive. Don’t get us wrong. Recycling is still important because it gives new life to old stuff by capturing the energy already put into a product. Rather than chopping down lots of trees or mining for aluminum (using raw materials), it’s better to recycle paper, metal, plastic and glass into new products so that we use less energy, fewer natural resources and do less damage to the environment.
A note on recycling: Every town has different recycling opportunities, and it’s impossible for us to know what is available in your area. When we mention certain items should be recycled, you need to make sure it applies in your local area. It’s important for you to do the legwork and find out whether you can recycle different types of plastic and other materials in your area. Earth911 is a great resource.
Ready To Reduce Waste In Your Home?
Add your comment below to signify your commitment to at least try to reduce your garbage.
Once you are ready to commit to living a trash-free life, you can take a look at each of the posts below to start working on each part of your home! Every post is filled with waste reducing ideas to help you get started.
Be sure to let us know how it goes – and how we can help you!