Easy Ways to Reduce Trash
Summer vacation is a great time to create new healthy habits as a family. With many municipalities reducing waste pickup to once every two weeks and each Canadian family producing 720 kg (1,587 lbs) of trash per year, the timing has never been better to find ways to maximize the three R's (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle) and make the jump to composting. With the help of RMP USA and their printable quick guide, we are going to go over some basics on how to make these changes.
Reusing is the first step to reducing waste and is a great way for the whole family to save money. Following is a list a ways to help reuse items:
- Have each child choose a fun water bottle that they can refill instead of prepackaged bottled water.
- Use refillable containers for food instead of zip lock bags, saran wrap and foil.
- Use refillable soap dispensers.
- Use reusable shopping bags.
- Encourage kids to get as much out of items as possible before buying new ones.
- Try to repair broken items instead of immediately buying new ones.
- Try to buy/sell items second hand on sites like Varage, Kijiji and Craigslist.
A great way to get the whole family involved is to set a goal for each person on an item less than $50 that they would really like to purchase by the end of the summer. See if they can make the money for that item by selling old toys and clothes that they are no longer using on sites like Varage, Kijiji or Craigslist.
Besides reusing to reduce, we've put together a list of additional ways to reduce trash:
- Choose products made of already recycled material (e.g. packaging should list the percentage coming from recycled materials).
- Choose products made of materials that can be recycled (e.g. look for the recyclable symbol).
- Choose products with the least amount of packaging (often the bulk versions have less).
Take the kids shopping and make it into a contest. Choose a reward item/activity up front (e.g. the winner will get to choose the weekly family movie). The guidelines are as follows for each item in the store:
- Find the version already made of the most amount of recycled material - 2 points.
- Find the version that has the most material that can be recycled in the future - 1 point.
Following is a list of ways to recycle. Please note that soiled paper items such as napkins, tissues and pizza boxes should actually be placed in the compost bin.
- Use rubber mulch (i.e. made of recycled rubber) to child-proof the exterior of your home and for home landscaping projects.
- Separate trash into recycling bins whenever possible.
- Seek recycling centers for potentially hazardous waste including household cleaners, paint, car batteries and unwanted electronics.
Find out if there are any local recycling drives that the kids can get involved with or organize a bottle drive to raise money for your child's sports team.
To begin, we recommend purchasing a fully compostable bag that is semi-waterproof such as the one from Bag to Earth found at many Costco's and home renovation stores. We also recommend checking with your city as each municipality has their own guidelines. We have listed those for Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Canada to show just how much stuff can actually be composted. Please note that some items, although marked as biodegradable on their packaging (e.g. biodegradable diapers), are actually forbidden as their contents (e.g. fecal matter) are considered hazardous waste.
Calculate the number of trash bags disposed of weekly and set a specific goal for the family as a whole to reduce that number by.