The U.S. throws away over 728,000 tons of garbage every day, that’s over 4.4 pounds of trash per person. You might have heard all the reasons to start recycling but over 125 Million tons of waste end up in landfills every year, raising important questions on the future of waste and its impact on our environment.

One of the ways we can help reduce waste is by using eco-friendly products to cut back on our environmental footprint.

Below are common ways to reduce waste in areas we tend to waste the most:

Avoid Food Related Waste

Food is the most wasted resource on the planet. 133 billion pounds of food was wasted in the U.S. in 2018. Bread, milk, cheese, potatoes, and apples are some of the most wasted food items in the U.S.

Shopping smarter and planning out your meals can go a long way to reduce your food waste! You can also prevent food waste through proper storage.

1.) Food Wrapping

Plastic food wrapping takes 1,000 years to decompose. Instead of wrapping up your leftovers in plastic wrap, try a food wrap that can decompose shortly after you’re done with it. Bee’s Wrap is a way to preserve your leftovers and save the environment from plastic wrap.

Bee’s Wrap is made from beeswax and cotton to help your leftover food. It is made to handle being washed and reused so you will end up saving the environment and cutting costs on single use plastic wrap!

2.) Aluminum Foil

Even if you know how to start recycling, aluminum foil takes 400 years to decompose. While there are many benefits to recycling metals, about 75% of aluminum foil ends up in landfills due to contamination with food waste.

If your food does go to waste, try composting instead of sending it to the landfill.

3.) Food Containers

If your leftover food isn’t getting wrapped in plastic wrap it usually gets put in a plastic food container. In the U.S. alone, the average family uses over 500 plastic bags a year. Since the only way to dispose of these food containers is a landfill, they end up compiling for a hefty 1,000 years before they decompose.

The Stasher stand-up reusable food storage bag acts just like a Ziploc bag with no BPA, PVC, or latex. This non-plastic bag helps store food for long periods of time and all you need to do is wash the bag for reuse.

Try to reuse when you are meal prepping, storing, and traveling with your food. Glass containers, reusable sandwich bags, and reusable lunch containers can help to make an impact on food waste and all of the plastic waste that goes along with it.

4.) Coffee Filters/Tea Filters

If you have a drip coffee maker, try Eath Hero’s cloth reusable coffee filters.

If you have a Keurig, skip the K-Cups and single use coffee making containers for a sustainable option like a reusable filter pod.

You can even brew your own tea in a reusable cloth t-bag.

5.) Styrofoam Products

Try not to use any Styrofoam products with your food storage, packaging, and other storage needs. Styrofoam does not decompose, which has led to landfills overflowing with about 30% Styrofoam.

Use Less Paper

300 million tons of paper are produced from 68 million trees for products like toilet paper, office paper, paper towels, paper plates, napkins, newspapers and any other kind of paper product. In the U.S. alone, over 15 billion rolls of toilet paper are used every year. How do we combat this rapid growth of paper use and save forests in the future?

Try skipping paper altogether! Paper towels can easily be replaced with cloth dish towels. Disposable paper plates can be swapped out for compostable paper plates. Even toilet paper can be replaced with a bidets.

One ton of paper costs our planet 700 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, and 17 trees. You can help reduce the use of paper in your life just by implementing some different habits around the house.

If you do need paper, try buying 100% recycled paper and always recycle office paper that you would otherwise throw in the landfill bin. A little recycling and reusing can go a long way to saving the planet!

6.) Notebooks

America uses over 70 million tons of notebook paper every year. If you already have an electronic device, try using that instead of cracking open another notebook.

You can also try Rocketbook’s forever reusable notebooks. These reusable notebooks allow you to write and erase with special moisture technology. The best part is that your notes are saved to your electronic note device on your phone! They are also made to be 100% recyclable.

Try reusing school supplies, buying eco-friendly notebooks, and other eco-friendly products when shopping for school supplies.

Click here to find out more about what you can do to help the environment as a student.

Eliminate Plastics From Your Daily Life

7.) Plastic Straws

Plastic straws have been in the news recently as a huge pollution problem. Plastic straw pollution’s effect on the environment goes well beyond landfills. An estimated 8.3 billion plastic straws washed up on beaches all over the world.

Plastic straws take about 500 years to decompose, turning into microplastics that harm aquatic creatures. Plastic straws also cannot be recycled which leads to landfill runoffs that end up in our global oceans.

Most restaurants and food services still use plastic straws but you can do something to combat the use of the single-use plastic straw.

Try using metal straws like SipWell’s stainless steel drinking straws that can be used many times over.

8.) Single Use Utensils

Like plastic straws, one use utensils are also a huge part of our global plastic problem.

If you need to have single-use, disposable silverware and can’t bring your own reusable metal meal-ware, try using compostable disposable cutlery!

Ecovita makes 100% compostable cutlery that turn back into compost in 2-4 months.

9.) Grocery Bags

Plastic grocery bags take almost 1,000 years to decompose and are too thin to be recycled. Instead of filling up landfills with your grocery store trips, try reusable grocery bags. Most grocery stores already provide their customers with reusable grocery bags at an affordable price!

10.) Plastic Bottles

Depending on the type of plastic bottle it can take 100-1000 years to decompose. The harmful chemicals that go into these plastic bottles ends up creating an environmental nightmare. Landfills compile about 60 million plastic bottles every day.

Using a reusable beverage bottle makes plastic bottles obsolete. There are reusable bottles for keeping things hot, cold, bubbly, and any other way you need your beverages!

11.) Trash Bags

No matter how close to zero waste you are, most of us throw our trash in a large plastic bag to send off to the landfill a few times a month. Since these trash bags take hundreds of years to decompose, our landfills will never stop growing if we don’t do something about them.

UMNI makes 100% compostable trash bags help reduce plastic in landfills and if all of your trash is compostable you will be even closer to zero waste!

12.) Pens

One of the other ways we can help reduce plastic waste is to use some plastics we already have lying around.

Pilot B2P (bottle to pen) pens are made from recycled plastic water bottles.

13.) Ink Cartridges

Over 370 Million empty toner and ink cartridges are thrown out every year. They take 500-1000 years to decompose in landfills and most people choose to buy new ink and toner cartridges instead of refilling them.

To save on plastic waste, try to always refill your cartridges.

CompAndSave sells remanufactured cartridges that reduce your waste footprint and help conserve resources like plastic, steel, aluminum, and rubber.

Get Smarter With Your Hygiene Products

14.) Toothbrushes

Instead of wasting the entire toothbrush every time you need a new one, try using a completely biodegradable toothbrush made from bamboo like Bite’s bamboo toothbrush. Eco-friendly toothbrushes often come with disposable heads so you don’t have to waste the handle.

15.) Razors

As with any product that is typically disposable, razors can be made with bamboo handles or recycled plastic handles. Click here for a great list on sustainable razor options.

16.) Showerheads

Try using a showerhead that uses less water. Using a showerhead with a lower flow can reduce your water waste by 50% and save you money in the process!

17.) Skin Care/Hair Care

Cosmetics and other hygiene products cost the world a lot of plastics. In just one year, the world goes through over 80 billion plastic bottles of just shampoo and conditioner.

Ditch the bottle and use products that come in bar form. There are plenty of great soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and lotions that come in bar form that reduce your plastic waste significantly.

Ethique is a New Zealand company that makes entirely zero waste hygiene products, in bar form, that last up to 5x longer than bottled products. They even come in their own 100% dissolvable and compostable packaging! Since they got started, Ethique has prevented over 350,000 plastic containers from being made worldwide.

If you don’t like the soap bar feel in all of your hygiene products try Love, Beauty, and Planet.

Love, Beauty, and Planet makes eco-friendly personal care products from recycled plastics. Although they are still plastic bottles, they are designed to reduce new plastic use, cut water waste, and prevent plastics from entering landfills. If you can’t avoid the plastic, buy recycled plastics!

18.) Detergent

Detergent introduces chemicals into our water supply and water run off, harming aquatic life and costing our planet in plastic.

Method creates hypoallergenic, plant based products in 100% recycled bottles. Creating a safer environment for what ends up in our water supply.

If you’re also looking to cut the plastic use from your detergent try Nellie’s All-Natural Non-Toxic Powdered Laundry Detergent. It even comes in a reusable meta tin!

19.) Cleaning Products

Most cleaning products are harmful to the environment and need to be disposed of through proper “hazardous waste collection”. If you are looking to dispose of less plastic and harmful chemicals check out these products that can help you get started.

Blueland makes cleaning products in reusable bottles that you assemble yourself. Blueland sends you the non-toxic packets for cleaning and you add them into their reusable bottles. This will help you cut back on plastic waste and your toxic waste.

Cleanwell cuts back on toxic chemicals like bleach and instead makes cleaning products out of EPA-approved antibacterial Thymol. If you are looking for something that cleans and disinfects in a recyclable botter check out Cleanwell.

Here’s where you can learn more about disposing of household chemicals.

20.) Disposable Diapers And Sanitary Pads

If takes up to 500 years for disposable diapers to decompose. There are over 20 Billion dirty diapers that end up in landfills every year in the U.S. alone.

Instead of piling on more dirty diapers in landfills, try using reusable cloth diapers! They are easy to clean, come in all shapes and sizes, and significantly reduce how much you contribute to toxic chemicals in our environment.

Cloth sanitary pads, menstrual cups, and organic cotton tampons are a great alternative to their disposable counterparts and can save you a lot of money every month!

Use Longer Lasting Electronics

21.) Batteries

Batteries are filled with toxic chemicals and are usually disposed of improperly. The individual use power source makes up 20% of household hazardous materials that end up in landfills nationwide.

Batteries take 100 years to decompose and when they do decompose they leave behind toxic waste that ends up soaking into the soil and/or running off into the water supply. Reducing your battery use and making sure you only use researchable batteries can significantly reduce how much toxic material you are throwing away.

22.) Lightbulbs

Don’t go throwing away all of your lightbulbs just yet! Try using the rest of your lightbulbs before buying brand new eco-friendly lightbulbs. Over 670 Million lightbulbs are thrown in American landfills every year. Lightbulbs are not biodegradable and will introduce mercury back into the surrounding soil and water. Disposing of lightbulbs properly helps the recycling of lightbulbs and the limiting of hazardous materials running off into the surrounding area.

When you do need to get new bulbs try LEDs. LED lightbulbs are 80% as efficient as their traditional counterparts. They produce 95% light and only 5% of their energy is turned into heat. Using less power lowers the use of greenhouse gas emissions and reduces your individual eco-footprint.

23.) Zero Draw Outlets

Another way to help reduce your eco-footprint is by reducing how much electricity you use. By reducing your energy use you generate less greenhouse gas emissions from powerplants.

If you’d like to reduce your electricity use try the Conserve Socket Power Timer. If shuts off the energy your appliances use when not in use and lets you set a timer on the electronics you don’t want running on stand-by.

You can use the Conserve Socket on a multitude of household appliances and electronics to significantly reduce your power bill and your greenhouse gas footprint.

24.) Computers/Cell Phones

Although there are not many great options for eco-friendly electronics, you should always try to buy used. When getting rid of your old electronics make sure you recycle at the proper processing locations to ensure that your old electronics don’t contaminate the surrounding environment.

25.) Cell Phone Cases

We get new electronic devices a lot. 70% of the U.S. owns a smart phone and that number goes up every year. Instead of getting more and more plastic accessories for our smart phones try Pela.

Pela is a phone case company that creates its cases out of 100% compostable, eco-friendly material. These flax/straw based bioplastics can save your phone from a 20 foot drop!

26.) Hair Dryer

The EcoTool Ultimate Air Dryer Hair Brush is a diffuser that dries your hair 40% faster with less heat damage. It’s made from recycled materials and the packaging is even made from bamboo and organic cotton.

Reuse & Recycle Fabrics & Accessories

27.) Nylon

When you throw away anything with nylon it can take up to 40 years to decompose. It is a synthetic material that doesn’t break down very easily. This fabric can be found in anything from socks to toothbrushes and its creation produces nitrous oxide, a gas that is over 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

28.) Clothing

Buying used clothing is a great way to reduce waste and promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. If you don’t want to by used clothes, you can always rent your clothes from places like Rent the Runway, a service that allows your to rent designer clothes at a reasonable rate.

There are also plenty of clothing stores that make clothes from repurposed and recycled materials. Check out Cotopaxi, the Girlfriend Collective or ecofriendly companies like Everlane.

Here’s how you can donate clothes to charity and/or repurpose them to reduce clothing waste in landfills.

Even if your clothes are too damaged for donation, you can always upcycle and reuse your clothes for other purposes like wash rags and upholstery!

29.) Shoes

If your shoes have rubber soles they can take up to 80 years to decompose! Try to recycle your shoes at the appropriate locations or upcycle to make use of them somewhere else. The synthetic rubber in your rubber soles is made from crude oil and, when broken down, can cause a negative impact on the environment.

30.) Watches

Get your wrist watch from a company that repurposes wood from whiskey barrels and gets its stainless steel from 100% recycled suppliers. Original Grain is a great way to give back to the environment when you get a new wrist watch. For every watch you get, Original Grain plants a tree in Senegal through their Forest Garden Program.

31.) Beds & Bed Sheets

Avocado is a company that makes eco-friendly beds, bedding, and furniture sourced from organic, natural latex, wool, and cotton.

Look for blankets and bed sheets from Coyuchi, a company that supports closed-loop carbon farming practices to produce eco-friendly wool and regenerative agriculture.

If you have to get rid of a mattress along with your bed sheets check out this article on “donating a mattress”.

32.) Donate A Car

Looking for an environmentally friendly way to get rid of a car? Wheels For Wishes gives you all the benefits of donating your vehicle. Instead of letting your old car sit in a landfill, donate your car to Wheels For Wishes car donation and recycling program. Wheels For Wishes is a car donation non-profit that benefits the kids of Make-A-Wish nationwide.

Here’s how to donate your car:

  • Call 1-855-278-9474 or visit our online donation form.
  • Next, we’ll arrange your tow within 24 hours of the next business day.
  • Finally, when the car donation process is complete, we’ll mail you your tax deductible receipt.

Your car donation to Wheels For Wishes gives you the best possible tax deduction, free towing, and a simple way to get rid of a vehicle in an environmentally friendly way. Help a Make-A-Wish child with your car donation today!

If you’re interested in more ways to go green, click here for 100 ways to go green!

If you’re looking for even more ways to live eco-friendly, here’s ten easy ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Just looking to donate your car seats? Check out this article.

 

Sources:

https://www.saveonenergy.com/land-of-waste/

https://www.rivercottage.net/news/top-five-most-wasted-foods-and-ways-to-save-them-from-the-bin

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/reduce-food-waste

https://www.today.com/shop/10-eco-friendly-products-help-you-go-green-t179281

https://www.businessinsider.com/eco-friendly-alternatives-for-everyday-products

https://www.onyalife.com/eco-friendly-products/

https://www.junkluggers.com/about-us/news-and-events/35424-chapter-3-26-household-items-that-dont-disintegrate-in-landfills.html

https://www.usi.edu/recycle/paper-recycling-facts/#:~:text=Approximately%201%20billion%20trees%20worth,is%20packaging%20and%20junk%20mail.

https://www.mrrooter.com/about/blog/2017/march/paper-waste-is-ruining-the-environment/#:~:text=An%20average%20of%20300%20million%20tons%20of%20paper%20is%20produced%20each%20year.&text=The%20average%20American%20consumes%20more,produce%20paper%20and%20paper%20products.