When it comes to waste, we call on three little words: reduce, reuse, recycle. What people don’t often realize, is that this waste management scheme is actually a prioritization of how we should be addressing our waste. First and foremost, we need to reduce the amount of waste we produce, then look for ways to reuse products, and as a last resort recycle when the item is no longer of value. Simply put, recycling is not the end all, be all solution to our ever growing landfills. The good news is that there are plenty of ways that you can reduce waste by just being aware of the long-term impacts of your choices and making a few small changes to your lifestyle.
Choose goods with less packaging. Generally when we buy something, we tend to only look at its quality or price and little attention is paid to the packaging. Try and look for products with less packaging or packaging that is made from recycled materials and is fully recyclable. If your favourite brands tend to use a lot of packaging, call or email the company and express your concerns!
Reusable bags and totes for groceries. This one has gained a lot of popularity over the years now that many grocers and even some retailers charge for plastic bags. Invest in some sturdy totes or cloth bags to avoid relying on plastic bags. If you are forgetful, try stowing a couple bags in your trunk so you always have a few on hand and are prepared for those unexpected shopping trips.
Carry a thermos and a canteen. Investing in a thermos and a canteen can do a world of good for the environment and your pocket. At Western, you can save 10 cents when you bring your reusable mug for hot drinks and there are over a 100 water bottle filling stations across campus saving you from purchasing disposable bottles of water. Reusable mugs and water bottles are affordable options that can help reduce waste to landfill.
Paperless billing. In this day and age, it is quite common for us to manage bills and banking online, so do we really need to get a paper bill sent to us every month that heads straight to the paper shredder? Contact your service providers and banks and request to receive electronic notifications for bill payments rather than paper billing.
These are a few great tips to start reducing the amount of waste you produce. Most importantly, become more aware of the purchases you make and what the impacts will be once you no longer need that product or item. Do you really need it? What will happen to it when you no longer need it? Where will it end up? Asking yourself these questions can lead to more conscious and eco friendly choices!