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Five Easy Household Swaps to Help Reduce Waste

Learn how to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle


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The average American uses and throws away 110 pounds of single-use plastic every year, and only about nine percent of plastic gets recycled. As a society, we can do better, and we not only owe it to our planet, but to ourselves and future generations. Living a zero-waste lifestyle is not impossible, nor challenging, and it doesn’t have to be done overnight. 

For anyone looking to live a more waste-free lifestyle, here are five easy household swaps you can make to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Choose Bars, Not Bottles

This is an easy strategy that fits most people’s personal consumption habits. Look for bar versions that can replace your bottled products. For example, shampoo and conditioner bars have become especially popular in recent years. You can also find deodorant bars, hand lotion bars, even laundry detergent bars. The number of plastic bottles you choose not to purchase is good for the planet. Beyond that, it reduces your exposure to the toxic chemicals that make up the actual bottles, and bar soap has no water content, so you end up with more usable product in the long run.

Reduce Plastic with Reusable Items

Reusable options are one of the easiest ways to help reduce waste, because there are so many single-use options on the market now. Water bottles and grocery bags are two of the easiest reusable swaps you can make. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year(!), so reusable grocery bags can make a huge difference to the environment. And if you decide to choose a reusable plastic water bottle, make sure to look at what it’s made of to ensure it’s free of toxic chemicals like BPA. 

Opt for Refillable Options

Americans use an alarming amount of plastic, and research shows less than 91 percent of plastics actually get recycled. Refillable options will help reduce the amount of plastic used, and thanks to many brands on the market today, refillable options have become more popular and easier to find. Although refillable options aren’t totally plastic-free, they provide significantly less plastic than if you were to repurchase an entirely new product. 

Swap Plastic for Glass

Glass is more sustainable and durable than plastic, which means your containers will last longer, and more importantly, glass contains no harmful chemicals. Also, glass containers are multipurpose and can be reused for many different purposes. For example, mason jars can be used for snacks, salad dressings, even to hold your Q-tips. What’s more, glass is endlessly recyclable, therefore, better for the environment. When glass isn’t available, choose aluminum or cardboard packaging. These materials are the top two resources that recyclers are incentivized for, so there is a better chance your packaging will get recycled and not just end up in the trash.

Choose Products with Fewer Ingredients

Unless you’re choosing clean, nontoxic products, many items on the market use tons of unnecessary and harmful ingredients. Oftentimes, you’ll see water as the leading ingredient, which is extremely wasteful. Consider choosing products that have limited ingredients. They’re better for you and better for the environment. Sustainable products that are waterless like shampoo and conditioner bars are great options because they aren’t wasting water and packaging is limited. 

About The Author
Angie Ringler in a blue shirt

Angie is the founder of Tangie by Waste Free Products, a waste-free, chemical-free, sustainable line of household, body, and pet care products designed with accessibility and ease of use in mind. She is also the author of Going Plastic Free: A Room by Room Guide. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.