- Set up a composting pile or bin. If you have a yard, find a place to put a pile of your organic wastes. This could be a pile, a box built from scrap materials, or a purchased composting bin. If you live in an apartment or condo, consider purchasing a countertop composter. There are lots of options available, ranging from electric composters (use about the same energy as a light bulb), vermiculture (composters that use worms to speed the process), and basic bins. The right choice depends a lot on where you live, how much you want to spend, how much time you want to invest in composting, and how quickly you want your materials to decompose.
- Purchase products with little packaging, or in bulk. Many of the items we buy come in excess packaging. Look for items with little or no packaging and consider buying in bulk when appropriate. Bring your own containers when appropriate, such as to the local farmers market.
- Purchase products made from reused or recycled material. Recycled-content products are made from materials that would otherwise have been discarded. Items in this category are made totally or partially from material destined for disposal or recovered from industrial activities-like aluminum soda cans or newspaper. Recycled-content products also can be items that are rebuilt or remanufactured from used products such as toner cartridges or computers.
- Purchase products and services made locally. Buying local not only reduces the environmental impact associated with transporting goods, but also helps keep money in the local economy, helping keep local jobs and improve the local tax base.
- Use the 30-day rule. The basic idea behind this rule is that you seriously consider whether or not you actually need to purchase a new item and avoid impulse buying. For example, you see a sweater or a new computer that you’d really like to have. Take 30 days to mull it over. If you still think you need it at the end of the 30 days, go for it.
- Purchase non-toxic cleaning products. Nontoxic cleaning products are generally available for about the same price as traditional, more toxic products. Using non-toxics is good not only for the environment, but also for your health. Additionally, using non-toxics helps reduce the risk of poisoning to children and pets!
Now some inexpensive and easy-to-do ideas:
- Replace disposable products with reusable ones. This crosses all kinds of different products. Wherever possible, look to products that can be reused. While reusable materials (such as razors) may cost more initially, the overall cost is often lower. When you do use disposables like plastic cups, plates, utensils, and plastic food storage bags, don't throw them away! Wash and reuse them -- most of them will last for a long time with many uses
- Repair things when they break. First, look to products that are durable. And, when the durable product breaks, get it fixed rather than replacing it!
Of course, when you do replace durable materials (or any materials, for that matter), consider donating the old products to charitable outlets (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, etc.), or repurpose them through venues like yard sales, Craigslist, or Freecycle.
And when you look to replace or purchase something, instead of buying new from the store, check yard sales, Craigslist, and the charitable outlets first. Often you can find “good as new” (and sometimes new-new) products for a fraction of the price!
Image Source: ECycler