Friday, June 14, 2013

Simple Steps to Manage and Reduce Waste

This month at Pasture Living, we're doing a series on "I Care for Our Planet!"  in conjunction with us being nominated as a finalist in the "eco challenge" category of the Singapore Blog Award 2013.

While it's wonderful to think about various ways to be greener and conserve water and energy, I often overlook the importance of managing waste products. Living in Singapore where trash shoot is conveniently located inside or right outside our apartment, and being able to throw trash in small plastic bags instead of accumulating them in a big can until the trash truck comes once a week, we don't get the see how much trash we throw at the end of the day. Most of us generate tons and tons of trash which gets carted off for landfill burial, and at the rate the trash is piling up, landfills will reach its maximum capacity sooner than we know. Not only that, much of it will not decompose anytime soon and some waste even releases toxic chemicals into the soils, streams, and ground water, which then affects wildlife and ultimately ends up right back at us. Most of us don't even think about it because it doesn't affect us much right now. But think about the future generations - our children's children's children. If we don't find ways to manage and reduce waste now, this beautiful land that God has entrusted to us to take care will not be able to sustain life the way He created it to be. 

Our family is taking one baby step at a time in trying to reduce waste as well. Every step will make a positive impact to our environment. Here are ten simple steps to start managing and reducing our waste:

1. Wash and reuse ziplog bags until they are not usable anymore.
2. Cook from scratch, thus avoiding the packaging that comes from processed foods.
3. Buy in bulk whenever possible.
4. Buy concentrated, natural cleaning supplies, such as Dr Bronner's Castile Soap which I use for making homemade floor cleaner.
5. Start composting. I haven't tried this since we don't have any outdoor space in our apartment. But my friend shares how she does composting and how easy it is.
6. Use as little tin foil, paper towels, plastic wraps, etc. as possible. Use glass jars with lids, re-usable containers, or ziplock bags to store food in the fridge.
7. Use cloth wipes for cleanup. I also cut up old white t-shirts that we no longer use into smaller sizes for cleaning the house.
8. Buy good-quality items. Cheap items tend to break easily (which equals to more things into the trash cans) while good-quality items generally last longer.
9. Consider buying used items whenever possible. Places like Craigslist or eBay sell used items usually for a cheaper price and many times the items are still in very good conditions (e.g. due moving sale, overgrown toys, etc.).
10. Reuse and refashion. Before you recycle or throw anything, see if you can reuse the items for something. Now that I have a little baby, egg cartons, boxes, plastic bottles get multiple uses at home. I also re-use glass bottles or jars to organize my things. If you sew, see if you can refashion unused clothes into usable items.

Any more that you can add to the list?

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