Bring your own bags. This is one of the top ways to cut out excess waste – by bringing your own bags, you save the environment from having to deal with one more plastic bag. And if you’ve forgotten your bags at home, reach for the brown paper bags instead of the plastic ones, since these are at least recyclable.
Buy bulk. Consider buying from bulk bins and reusing the bags provided. This is a great way to cut out packaging almost entirely, save for the occasional ripped bag. Also consider buying large containers instead of solo cups (of, for instance, yogurt) and portioning the contents at home.
Buy products with recyclable packaging. Keep in mind that shrink wrap, plastic film, and any cardboard boxes with windows are not recyclable.
Reuse plastic containers. Save those deli containers and use them to store sandwiches for lunch, sort drawers and cupboards, and for craft projects around the house.
Look for packaging made with recyclable materials. When all else fails, support the companies that make a difference. Be wary of products that seem greener – many companies are employing natural-looking packaging to make their products seem healthier or better for the environment when they may not be. Unless the packaging says it’s made from recyclable materials, or made with renewable energy, considering passing it up for a product that does.
Shop Locally. Every time you order online, you are delivered not only your cart items, but often also a large box with a fair amount of bubble wrap or packing peanuts. Much of the packaging material that comes inside the shipping box is not recyclable. Consider instead shopping at the local supermarket or grocer. You can even keep from wasting gas by planning ahead and keeping your trips to the store to once per week instead of every other day.
Buy reusable instead of disposable items. Consider getting a reusable water bottle with a filter instead of those plastic water bottles, or bringing a thermos or coffee cup with you to your favorite coffee shop. You can also use metal utensils instead of disposable ones, and start practicing turning away plastic straws when you get fountain drinks. Every bit helps!
Buy used. Consider if you need an item new, or if you can buy it used. Items like furniture, clothes, and household appliances can more often than not be found in second-hand stores. The more we reuse, the less that gets put into landfills.