Americans dispose of more than 700 billion pounds of paper, glass, plastic, wood, food, metal, clothing, electronics and other refuse annually.
The problem of managing mountains of waste may seem overwhelming, but experts note there are easy ways for consumers to make a difference every day.
“Old habits might die hard, like forgetting to recycle a soda can or newspaper, but the good news is, there are many simple ways to cut down on waste, from buying concentrated household products to buying in bulk,” says environmental expert Kim Carlson.
Carlson offers the following tips to help consumers reduce, recycle and reuse waste:
* Keep it loose. Buy screwdrivers, nails and other hardware items in loose bins. At the grocery store, choose produce that is not in prepackaged containers.
* Bring your own bag. Reuse bags and containers. Keep a supply of bags on hand for future shopping trips, or take your own canvas tote bag to the grocery store.
* Consider concentrated detergent. Concentrated products often require less packaging, resulting in less energy to transport to the store and less plastic to recycle. All small & mighty is a new concentrated laundry detergent (one 32-ounce bottle cleans as many loads as the regular 100-ounce bottle). In addition to less packaging, the formula contains 74 percent less water than regular detergent.
* Choose to reuse. Reach for reusable products such as cloth napkins, sponges or dishcloths instead of paper towels.
* Recharge and renew. Use rechargeable batteries and recycle old batteries to help reduce garbage and keep toxic metals out of the environment.
* Buy smart. Look for long-lasting, energy-saving appliances with the Energy Star label and electronic equipment with good warranties.
* Get crafty. Reuse scrap paper and envelopes. Save and reuse ribbons, tissue paper, gift boxes and even wrapping paper. Save cardboard boxes, colored paper, egg cartons and other items for arts and crafts projects.
* Think thrifty. Donate clothing to charity organizations or sell the items in consignment shops, fairs, bazaars or tag sales. Also, share hand-me-down clothes with family members and neighbors. – NU