Start your waste reduction journey

  • Thursday, May 9, 2019 1:56pm
  • Opinion

Most Americans throw away about 4.5 gallons of stuff every single day. That’s a whole lot of garbage.

The good news is, we’re taking notice. Communities, businesses and local governments across the Puget Sound area recognize the problem and are implementing waste reduction strategies. For example, a King County coalition of 10 local governments has released a year-long assessment and is advancing strategies to reduce waste and achieve a regional approach to responsible recycling.

One of the key findings is that meaningful waste reduction requires behavior change – including better purchasing decisions and lifestyle choices. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your waste reduction journey.

Tip 1: Reduce. You’ve heard it before and it’s truly the best way to decrease your environmental footprint (as well as the strain on your wallet). Before buying something, ask yourself: do I really need this? If the answer is yes, ask yourself again. When you do buy a product, think about each purchase thoroughly to ensure your new addition will be long-lasting and make a low environmental impact. Shopping at second-hand stores is a great start.

Tip 2: Quit the single-use habit. These are products we use regularly because they are convenient, but many have environmentally-friendly, reusable alternatives. Next time, choose reusable coffee cups, napkins, utensils and more. Each individual item can really add up. If every American used one less roll of paper towels per year, we could save more than 550,000 trees.

Tip 3: Adjust your shopping habits to decrease packaging waste. Many grocery stores offer a bulk section where shoppers can minimize packaging and fill up on everything from dried fruit and nuts to flour, coffee and peanut butter. Some specialty stores offer an even wider selection including teas and materials to help you make your own soaps, toothpaste and deodorant. It’s simpler than you think! You can even make a green kitchen cleaner with just three ingredients: vinegar, water and scented oil.

Remember: Behavior change starts with small actions, and a green lifestyle may be more attainable than you think. Keep these tips in mind on your next shopping trip and you’ll be reducing waste like a pro in no time.

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s education and outreach manager. Learn more about plastic recycling at RecycleOften RecycleRight.com.

More in Opinion

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease this Grandparents Day

Pacific Medical Centers doctor shares top signs of the disease, as well as tips to maintain cognitive health

Gov. Jay Inslee. REPORTER FILE PHOTO
Inslee passes up a chance to confront corporate ‘blackmail’

Governor skipped a meeting about tax breaks, he said, Boeing squeezed out of the state.

Parents and adult fans: biggest challenge facing high school sports today

By Karissa Niehoff and Mick Hoffman, for the Reporter Inappropriate adult behavior… Continue reading

Libraries are welcoming spaces for everyone

King County Library System is committed to inclusion – the idea that… Continue reading

It is time to talk about our national debt

Our nation is on an unsustainable borrowing trajectory and it could get… Continue reading

Drones planting trees in burned wildlands

While drones are coming of age in firefighting, they are also establishing… Continue reading

Dozen advisory measures on the ballot will tax voters’ attention

OLYMPIA – If you’ve lost count of how many new and higher… Continue reading

Tribes outraged by EPA move to roll back improved water quality standards

Treaty Indian tribes in Western Washington are outraged that the Environmental Protection… Continue reading

Publisher’s decision to limit e-book access is bad news for library patrons

A recent decision by a book publisher to limit public libraries’ access… Continue reading

Most Read