There are so many ways we all can reduce waste in our own homes. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Remember to bring reusable bags and containers with you when shopping or traveling. This is such a simple way to reduce waste and yet so easy to forget. When I make a shopping list I include “bring reusable bags” in big letters at the top of my list and make sure to always have plenty of reusable bags in my car in all different sizes.
  2. Choose products that are returnable, reusable or refillable over single-use, disposable items. When you are purchasing items that are sold in packaging, try to buy the brands that use recyclable or minimal packaging. This will ensure that your home doesn’t get overrun with items that will go directly into the trash.
  3. Eat whole foods, not packaged ones. This tip is probably the most important because it is healthier not only for the planet but for you and your family. For example, eating an organic apple with a glass of filter tap water rather than drinking a glass of apple juice is healthier for you (an average serving of apple juice contains 28 grams of sugar which translates to 7 teaspoons of sugar), less expensive and better for the environment. Processed food is energy intensive and not good for our bodies.
  4. Make your own simple cleaning supplies, or buy ones that are concentrated. Not only do commercial cleaning products come with a lot of packaging, they are packed with toxic chemicals. If you make your own cleaning products, you know what ingredients are present and you can reuse your containers.

Here are some of my favorite DIY cleaning recipes:

Tub and tile cleaner: Take a lemon, cut it in half and sprinkle the fruit side liberally with baking soda. Use it to scrub your tub, tiles and your kitchen sink. It cleans, disinfects and leaves a lovely lemon scent.

Oven cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda in your oven and spray it with water, making it into a paste. Let it sit, periodically spraying it when it dries. Then wipe off. Your oven will be sparkling clean without the toxic fumes.

Window cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with water and ¼ cup white vinegar. Reduce waste by using a soft cloth or newspaper instead of paper towels (and they leave a better finish).

Fabric rinse/softener: Add ¼ cup of white vinegar to the washing machine’s rinse cycle to remove detergent completely from clothes, eliminating that scratchy feel. This will leave your clothes feeling soft and will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar.

Garbage disposal cleaner: Make vinegar ice cubes by putting 1 cup distilled white vinegar in an ice cube tray, fill the balance with water and freeze. Once frozen, drop a couple down the disposal and run it. The vinegar helps disinfect and the ice helps remove any food stuck on the blades.

Microwave cleaner: Place some lemon slices in a microwave safe cup or bowl with 6 ounces or so of water. Heat on high for 3 minutes, let sit for 3 minutes (without opening the door), and then open and wipe clean. Crusted food should lift easily and your microwave will smell lemon fresh.

This last tip comes from Zero Waste Home: Get your 5Rs right: Refuse what you do not need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse what you consume, Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, and Rot (Compost) the rest.

The time is always right to do what is right.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.