Reduce personal carbon footprint and waste at home-15 top tips

This week’s Climate Change report stated it loud and clear that time is running out and it is time to take action. We all have to take responsibility and action now. Every single one of us can make a difference and can create a change; we all have strength and ability to do it. One of the best ways to start the change is from your home. Reducing the amount of waste you create will reduce your footprint on this planet, and there is more than one way to do it.

Do the research

It all starts in your trash bin. So go have a look and see what you put there. To understand how you can reduce your waste, first you have to understand what you throw out. Have a look at what is in your recyclable bin and what is in general garbage bin, particularly pay attention to the latter. Educate yourself of your waste.

Once you have done that, research natural alternatives, have a look what is available to you, some of them might already be in your home.

Get to know what you can recycle

Figure out what sort of things you can put in your recyclable bin, it differs from country to country and sometimes even from company to company. If you are not sure, call up the company that takes your bins, find out and understand better how you need to sort your trash. If you have bottle banks nearby, keep your glass jars and bottles separately and bring them to the bottle banks, don’t discard them in the general waste bin.

Create compost

Not all bin companies offer compost, most do but not all. If yours don’t, then create your own compost. Composting will immediately cut down all your food waste and even part of your food and cosmetics packaging (look for signs of ecopack, compostable, etc.), and you will even be able to leave your bamboo toothbrush (without bristles) in your compost. And compost is great for the garden; we will get to that later.

Ditch plastic

After digging through your trash, you probably were shocked at how much plastic is in there. Ditch it! You don’t need most of it. There will be some occasions, when you can’t avoid plastic, and that’s fine, recycle it accordingly. Most of the plastic is unnecessary packaging and there are alternatives. When shopping seek out items that have no unnecessary packaging or are in a glass jars or paper/carton containers. You can always reuse glass and you can leave paper and carton in your compost. And if you haven’t yet, then it is time to ditch cling film, if you have some leftovers put a plate over that bowl or put them in a jar, or in a reusable containers, or wrap them in beeswax wraps. Get your own reusable coffee cup, stop buying bottled water, bring your own reusable bottle of water and drink tap water. The idea is look for waste free alternatives whenever possible.

Bring your own bags

Whenever you go shopping, bring your own tote bags to put your shopping in. They are a lot handier and easier to carry than the plastic bags. Create a habit of keeping one tote bag in every coat or jacket pocket. When buying loose vegetables and fruits, don’t wrap them in small plastic bags, instead just put them in your tote bag. Vegetables and fruit already have their natural packaging – their skin.

Buy locally

Whenever possible shop locally and support your local producers, farmers and artists. Find your local farmers market and go and support it. Local vegetables and fruits taste better and they are usually seasonal, so better for the planet. Plus eating seasonal fruit and vegetables might encourage you to try some that you haven’t yet. And if you have no idea on how to eat it, just ask the farmer.

When looking for gifts or souvenirs try and support local artists. The gift will be more unique and most likely one of a kind.

Keep the jars

Jars are great! They work as take away food boxes, as water bottles, as leftover containers, as spice jars, and I could go on and on. So keep your jars and reuse them. Get rid of labels by soaking them in hot soapy water, if that doesn’t work just brush the oil over the label and leave it, and then peel it off. You can even use your jars as a vase for fresh flowers or have your tried using wine bottles as candle holders. Get creative and before throwing away your jar, think maybe you can reuse it and save yourself some money.

Plan ahead

If you know you will be going shopping that day, bring your tote bags. If you think you won’t have time for lunch and might need to grab a takeaway meal at the grocery store, instead bring your own jar with some healthy food. Plan your weekly meals, you will save time on shopping and you will more likely use all the produce and there won’t be anything going bad. Save time and money by planning ahead.

Buy less and buy smart

Avoid spontaneous buys, buy clothing that fits you and matches your wardrobe, so you can mix other items in your wardrobe with the new item. Opt for quality over quantity, and when buying any new clothing consider price per wear. Choose natural and organic clothing over synthetic, they are better for the planet and your skin.

Doesn’t matter what you are buying look out for sustainable, natural and fair-trade options. Don’t over buy anything, as it will only go to waste. So buy less and buy smart.

Fix it

Instead of throwing something out as soon as it breaks, consider fixing it. If your shirt is missing a button, sew it back on, hole in a sock, stitch it. There are so many things that we throw out because we don’t have time to fix them or we don’t know how to fix them. Seek out help or look it up, and if you can fix it, don’t throw it out, just fix it.

Pass it on

If there are things and clothing lying around your house that you don’t use anymore, pass them on to your friends or relatives, or bring them to charity. Before throwing it away, think maybe someone else can up-cycle it and find a use for it, keep it out of landfill. Pass it on whenever possible.

Refuse

Whenever someone offers you a brochure, free pen, free pencil, a straw, etc. before you say yes think whether it won’t go straight to the bin once you get home. Learn to say no to stuff that you don’t need. Refuse and steer away from extra waste.

Sign up for e-bills

This is one of the simplest and quickest things that you can do to reduce the waste at home. So sign up to receive bills, special offers, etc. to your e-mail. It will reduce the waste and save some trees.

Plant

Plant your own herb garden, you won’t need to buy them, it will save you money as well, keep house plants to improve air quality in your home, it will boost your mood and your health. If you have a garden plot, maybe try and grow your own vegetables and fruits, encourage others to do the same.

Learn about natural alternatives

Before you get caught with flu and cold, learn about some natural remedies that can keep the cold season at bay. It will help to save up on some tissue and medicine packaging. And when you do need to get your medicine, choose a glass jar whenever possible. Explore what nature has to offer.

Instead of buying big load of home cleaning products, turn to your pantry, use baking soda for scrubbing jobs, create your own white vinegar all round cleaner, explore, your pantry is full of cleaning products.

To find out even more ways on how you can reduce your waste at home and some inspiration on how you can substitute few things have a look at this Zero Waste Home handy guide. And remember, every step to less waste counts. You don’t have to go zero waste overnight, reduce your waste and encourage others to do the same.

Baiba Šustere

Baiba Šustere is a staff writer and wellness expert for My Good Planet. Specialising in mindfulness, health and wellbeing, Baiba's work has inspired and touched many of our readers over the course of her time with us. Her time studying to become a Yoga teacher in India gave her a unique perspective on life; one which she generously shares with us regularly.