Un-tipping the Scales

Illustration by Nik Garvoille.

The best way to cut down your landfill impact is to find creative ways to not turn things into trash in the first place. Of course, what we call “creative tips” today, our grandparents might have simply called “routine.” Still, the ideas below serve as a reminder that it’s actually pretty easy to trash less and save money.

• Cut up old T-shirts to use as rags. Save the cost of buying rags, and get a second life out of an old, ratty shirt.

• Donate your used clothing and goods to a local second-hand or charity resale store. You can even get a tax deduction!

• Buy more durable goods. If it’s exceedingly cheap, it’s probably exceedingly poor quality. How many DVD players, CD players, phones, and lamps have you gone through in the last 10 years?

• Avoid buying single-serving products. This is an easy way to see your trash impact dissipate. Buy juice from concentrate, avoid bottled water and single serve beverages, and get re-usable water and coffee bottles (but you don’t need 20!). If you get conscious about single-serve packaging, you’ll find it’s one more motivation not to grab that unhealthy bag of chips, candy bar, or soda too.

• Be conscious of the type of packaging of the purchases you make. Avoid Styrofoam and plastic shrink-wrapped items.

• Print two-sided copies or don’t print if not necessary.

• Fix things rather than trash them. It’s often cheaper to buy new, but many of us don’t even try to fix anything anymore. Give it a shot before trashing it, and you may find yourself getting satisfaction in getting another year out of a table, CD player, or lamp (and proud of your handiwork).

• Cut back your use of freezer bags and sandwich bags. Can you use a Tupperware container instead? Or re-use a bag? What about a second life for a yogurt or cottage cheese container?

• Buy more food from farmers markets if possible. It’s probably been carried in a box or bucket that’s getting at least a second use. It usually isn’t packaged. And if the grower offers you a bag, it’s probably a re-used bag.