Reducing Waste: A Visual Guide

October 1, 2018

For the last several years, I have been trying to reduce the clutter and waste in my life. I have realized that not everyone may be aware of the many easy ways there are to do this, or that there are other folks out there trying to do the same thing. So here is my take on all those “ten tips to reduce waste!” videos, illustrated with my own stuff.

Kitchen / Dining:

Let’s be honest - I eat a lot of takeout, and I like food, a lot. So probably the area where I have the most trash is meal prep and dining. To that end, here are all the things I use to help me cut back on the stuff I throw away:

Bathroom:

To cut down on disposables in the bath, I have switched to using a safety razor (standard razor blades are super cheap and recyclable), bar soap (less packaging), and bamboo toothbrush and hairbrush (the handles are compostable). We also use a glass soap dispenser with refills, which use less packaging than single-use plastic dispensers, and refill our cleaning spray bottle with white vinegar (diluted some with water). This works fine for general cleaning.

My biggest source of cutting down on trash is just reducing the number of products I use in the bath, in general. This, of course, isn’t possible for everyone. But for cleaning/showering, I now only use a bar of soap, a bottle of shampoo, toothpaste, and the safety razor; and for cosmetics, I have a moisturizer / sunscreen in one, a tinted face powder, deodorant, and a general body lotion. That’s it. I still haven’t made the leap to make-your-own deodorant (seems risky…) or to stopping the use of shampoo (seems actually more annoying than using shampoo). I did test out a couple different shampoo bars, with the thought that I might consolidate shampoo and soap into one product, but it didn’t work that well and was more expensive than just buying regular soap and shampoo. But it’s great for traveling!

In short: If you’re trying to reduce your waste, you’re not alone. It can be challenging to remember to bring my own containers and bags all the time, but keeping them in the car or at my desk at work helps me remember. Of course, doing all little stuff this isn’t enough to forestall catastrophic climate change – it takes a lot more than this – but if it prevents me from having to take an extra trip downstairs to empty the trash, that’s a good enough reason for me. And, the way I see it, reducing my waste certainly can’t hurt when it comes to climate change.

(And if you are looking for some things you can do as an individual to fight climate change? Check out the link above, and also this one: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-you-can-help-fight-climate-change)