Waste reduction can be classified as simply as diverting waste from a landfill: remember reduce, reuse, and recycle. As children, we are all taught the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) as a way to keep us conscious of our impact on the environment but we never really kept it up as we grew up. Why? We became lazy and even starting playing basketball with our trash. There are many different ways to achieve waste reduction in residential and commercial applications.
Three ways for reducing waste stand out for both construction and commercial waste. First, reuse some of the architectural components. Create on-site processing and recycling programs as well as off-site processing and recycling. There are companies all over the U.S. that deal with waste management and ironically enough, the largest company is appropriately known as Waste Management. They have LEED-accredited professionals on staff for consultation purposes. These companies set up systems for you or give you the option to use theirs (though at a larger cost, but still more convenient). WM will set up waste pickups and the best way to achieve waste management is to wait until the dumpsters are completely full until they or a similar company come to collect.
As for waste reduction at home, there are many basic, easy, and free ways to start. Some even save money in the long and short run.
- Use carpools or mass transit (this saves on fuel waste)
- Donate your used goods, i.e. clothing, old appliances, instead of throwing them out. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
- Use a metal water bottle. Last year, 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled. Although recycling 1 ton of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space, the process is still not ideal. So why even use them? Sigg is an amazing company with durable metal water bottles and they look good, too. I have been using Sigg bottles for years now. www.mysigg.com
- Use bar soap. Using bar soap instead of liquid bath wash that comes in yet another plastic bottle helps save plastic and the energy of recycling it by minimizing your waste to a paper wrapper or small cardboard box.
- Recycle batteries! Places like Best Buy and Staples have plastic bins by the door for collecting batteries. No battery fluid seepage into our landfills and water tables!
- Send in your address and name information to DMA, Mail Preference Services to stop getting junk mail at home. This will reduce your paper trail. Every year, 3.5 million tons of 5.9 million tons is junk mail that just ends up getting thrown out. Save the trees, please.
- Composting. Reuse your food scraps to fertilize your garden.
- Recycle your grass or as the term has been coined “grasscycling”. This means simply keeping your grass shavings on your lawn or spreading them in your garden. This absorbs moisture and retains for when the lawn needs also reducing the amount of water wasted.
- Reuse, Repurpose and Repair. If something is broken, try to fix it first. It’s not worth throwing out if it’s something repairable! Try your local cobbler to fix a variety of things, not just your shoes. Or even Google-search ideas for re-using that old door that you’re just going to throw out. Maybe it becomes a new conversation table in your living room. There is always a way to reuse something. You just need a little imagination and maybe a little elbow grease to get it done.