How To Reduce Waste and Design a Sustainability-Minded Home
By Hannah McIntosh
Beyond your aesthetic tastes, your home is often a reflection of your values. Each intentional design choice can generate a positive impact on your community and the world. We know that the planet is changing, and we are all looking for ways to live in harmony with it and fortify it. In 2017, each person produced on average 4.51 pounds of trash per day. Of all this waste headed to the landfills, 19 percent of it was plastic which contributes to soil and ocean pollution.
While there are many avenues to follow in pursuit of positive environmental change, one place to begin is at home. Luckily, making your home more earth-friendly doesn’t always involve a major overhaul. There are plenty of ways to slowly ease into a more low-waste style of living without making radical changes (in fact, we’ve partnered with The Well to design a webinar on the Nontoxic Home). You may discover that certain sustainability-minded adjustments elevate your home and lifestyle. Practicing conscious engagement when buying new things for your home can sow the seeds for larger positive change in your community, and ultimately, the planet.
We’ve put together some simple swaps and changes you can make at home to embrace a more low-waste style of living.
Look for reusable vessels (some in unexpected places!).
From the park to a long car ride to your nightstand, a reusable water bottle is a necessary companion to stay hydrated and away from single-use plastic. But reusable vessels don’t stop at water bottles. When buying candles, look for those housed in containers that can have a second life as a functional object, like a small dish for jewelry or a set of mix and match drinking glasses.
Swap take-out for home cooking.
Whether you’re a seasoned home chef or newly adjusting to cooking more meals at home, investing in quality cookware — like cast iron pans and copper pots — can motivate you in the kitchen. Feeling inspired by your tools may nudge you in trying your hand at more ambitious culinary endeavors or in recreating your restaurant favorites at home. While it’s wonderful to support local restaurants, food packaging, like the containers from takeout, accounts for 30% off all municipal waste. Being mindful of our habits and working to create balance is key, and the choice to cook a few more meals at home each week could divert pounds of plastic from the landfill each year.
Upgrade your kitchen essentials.
While working to reduce our consumption of single-use items, it’s important to assess the things we buy out of habit. However, you may realize that some kitchen items are simply essential. Thankfully, there are plenty of alternative low-waste options that are both visual and earth-friendly enhancements to your kitchen. Try swapping a plastic sponge for a wooden scrub brush, washable cloths for paper towels, and beeswax wrap for plastic wrap. Some glass spice jars may even inspire you to buy in bulk on your next trip to the market.
Grow your own herbs.
Now that you may be cooking more at home, the benefit of having easy access to fresh herbs can’t be underestimated. Thankfully, there are so many ways to grow herbs at home no matter where you live with easy biodegradable starter garden kits.
Create an earth-friendly bathroom.
Giving your bathroom a low-waste makeover is easier than it sounds. In fact, upgrading your bathroom products may end up feeling like a welcome change from your previous routine. Instead of using bottled hand soap, look for bars of soap to reduce excess plastic and infuse the space with colorful, sculptural details. Also, there are many everyday products that now come in recyclable and reusable packing like non-toxic deodorant and alcohol-free mouthwash.