Living a zero waste lifestyle might seem like a pipe dream to most Americans, but small changes toward a “greener” life may have far reaching impacts.The first step to living more sustainably is to understand the problem areas of waste in your life. Follow some of these steps to lower your impact and make a difference.eating-leftovers

  1. “Choose to Reuse”— A phrase that is gaining popularity in American society as grocery stores are moving away from the excess of plastic bags. Instead of throwing out the extra plastic spoon from Dairy queen, keep it in your car or backpack to get more use out of it. If you don’t own a tote bag or reusable grocery bag, get on it! It is without a doubt one of the most handy items to have laying around. If you already carry around with pride a nalgene or reuseable water bottle of your choice, good for you! Reuse items like empty jars or boxes for craft projects.recycling-bin

Ideas for reuse of a jar: Vase, drinking glass, spot for loose change, art project, fill with candy or baked goods as a nice surprise gift, use as a container for future food items.trash-can

According to

The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.”

“Annually, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.”

  1. Give up the K- Cup. They produce an excess of plastic and can easily be replaced by a reusable K-cup or a large pot brewer to make it a socializing opportunity. Love coffee? Don’t just stop at the reuseable water bottle; bring your own coffee cup to any coffee shop and save some trash. Most places will even offer a discount (Local Joe’s Java included!)
  2. Embrace sharing and swapping. Before you go out shopping to buy more new things, take a look around you and see what you could swap with a friend. Think of it as thrifting for free. This cuts back on the production of new clothing, which is often made in factories with excess pollution and then transported miles, thus creating even greater pollution.
  3. Go digital. Buying movies, music, and books digitally cuts down on unnecessary packaging and transportation pollution. Plus it’s a much more mobile way to carry entertainment wherever you go.
  4. Recycle. This seems simple but it should be your last step. Do this only after you have taken the steps to reduce the amount of recyclable materials you buy and have reused it to its fullest potential.
  5. Leftovers are the best-overs. Taking home the spare food from a meal and enjoying it later will help to cut back on the pounds of wasted food that America tosses everyday and will also save you some money.

by Anna Evans

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