Humans collectively litter the world with massive quantities of used plastic bottles, plastic packaging materials, broken toys, and other useless junk. Typical American consumers are each tossing an average of 130 pounds of garbage per month. Unfortunately, many of those discarded items do not decompose in landfills. Instead, they just hang around there, cluttering up the world forever.
This leads to another problem: We’re quickly running out of landfill space.
It doesn’t need to be this way. We could reduce the flow of garbage into landfills without even making that much effort. Here’s how we can do it:
Try Out Some Zero Waste Swaps
There are sustainable, zero-waste replacements for most single-use items like disposable plastic bottles and food packages. You’ve probably already picked up some reusable shopping bags and vowed never to use plastic straws again. Beyond that, there are bunches of zero waste hacks and swaps you can make that will not only reduce the piles of garbage you throw away; they’ll also save you bundles of money, too.
Carefully Consider Your Needs Before Buying New Things
People buy a lot of junk they don’t need. Before you buy any particular item, ask yourself, “Where will this item be in 10 years?” Will you still own it? Will you still be using and enjoying it, or will it have become useless and outdated long since? If the honest answer to that question is “This item will be cluttering up a landfill,” then think twice about wasting your money on it in the first place.
Buy the Highest Quality Items You Can Realistically Afford
Most items will eventually break or go outdated with enough time and use. However, higher-quality items will last you a lot longer than junky items – so it’s prudent to choose the best quality items you can afford.
If you buy top-quality things and treat them well, it is possible that they could last you for a long time. Think of all the antique books, furnishings, and clothing items still around and still in use today. Well-made antiques have been resistant to wearing out. Whenever possible, keep these antiques in mind as you shop. It’s prudent to look for high-quality things like these that resist wearing out. The goal is to maximize the useful life of every item you own and also your enjoyment of those items.
Buy Second-Hand Stuff
Some items you wouldn’t want to buy used; these include bagels, breath mints, socks and underwear. But, other than those types of items, there are many useful and wonderful things that are viable to buy second-hand. For starters, buying things used is a sustainable choice because it helps prolong the useful lifespan of the items and keeps them out of the landfill. Beyond that, you’re likely to find amazing bargains on used furnishings, clothing items, toys, tools, books and other things available for sale on the secondary market.
Sell or Donate Things You Don’t Need
When you’ve decided that you’re finished with your old clothing, furnishings, and other items, the easiest course of action is to throw them away. However, this ensures that they will end up in a landfill. If there is any chance whatsoever that somebody could use them, it’s better to donate them to charity or sell them to someone who can use them.
Shop Locally Whenever Possible
It can be a challenge to find food and manufactured goods produced locally, but it’s ideal to buy what you can from local producers whenever possible. This reduces pollution from emissions, which is an unfortunate reality when goods are manufactured in one country and transported to another country. In cases where you buy food directly from a farmer, it can also help reduce packaging waste.
Rely on Recycling as a Last Resort
Recycling is more complicated than you’ve been led to believe. It isn’t an easy or efficient system, and there is more supply of garbage that needs recycling than there is demand for the final recycled products. So, on the one hand, it’s good to recycle; but on the other hand, recycling won’t solve all our garbage problems. Sure, you should continue to recycle when you can; just don’t count on it to be the thing that saves us from a world that’s overrun with garbage. It hasn’t so far, and it won’t magically do so any time soon.
Hopefully, more people will choose to take action and implement a zero-waste lifestyle. That’s how we can slow the flow of garbage into landfills and solve the world’s waste crisis.