Boxes, bottles, aluminium cans, packaging and grass clippings are all part of the rubbish generated by homes annually. The transportation and disposal of these types of waste consume significant resources and energy. In addition, waste disposal bears a significant cost for residents. These include government taxes and higher council rates.
Waste production cannot be stopped entirely but steps can be made to reduce it. Following the basic principles of waste reduction will not only minimise our need for new landfill – it also helps us save money. Effective waste management starts at home and can help reduce costs. Below are some tips you can follow:
Practice “smart shopping” - when shopping, it is always better to be smart. This starts with being selective when buying goods. Choose items with less packaging. This helps reduce the waste produced. Single-serve items may look cheaper but, usually, they are not. Buying bulk is more cost-effective. Bring your own grocery or cloth bags when shopping – say NO to plastic bags. Most importantly, only buy the things you really need.
Use natural cleaning agents - commercially available cleaning products can be a bit expensive. To save money, buy only what you need. Natural cleaning agents are also good alternatives. White vinegar can clean windows, cut grease from stove tops and deodorize the kitchen. Baking soda, on the other hand, makes a good scouring powder for bathroom or kitchen surfaces. You can include these on your grocery list.
Free-cycle your old gadgets and devices - Old or “obsolete” gadgets are now the fastest growing waste in Australia today. Since e-waste products typically end up in landfill, free-cycling old computers, mobile phones and television sets is a good alternative. Organisations like TechCollect accept these devices and offer recycling services. You may also opt to sell your old, working electronic devices to anyone who might be interested.
Do not throw things away. Reuse them - reusing or repurposing things is one of the important “three Rs” in home waste management (Reuse). Offering these goods to friends, family members or neighbours is a good way of reusing them. Charities and second-hand traders will even offer to buy your items, if they are still presentable or in sellable condition. It is one of the best ways to earn money.
Reusable cloths instead of disposable ones - instead of using disposable cleaning cloths to clean your home, use reusable or old clothes. They can do the job as well as their disposable counterparts.
Set up your own compost and worm farm - vegetable peelings and eggshells are some of the food waste produced by Australian households. These and other food waste can be used to create compost and worm farms. They will not just make your garden’s soil richer – they can also supply the necessary nutrients your plants need to flourish. Food scraps such as coffee grounds and used tea bags make great additions to your compost. Eventually, your compost will help fertilise your garden and potted plants, reducing waste and increasing renewable resources.
Managing waste at home can be both challenging and fulfilling. Be consistent and remember the benefits you can reap. In the end, you will save the environment and a few more dollars in the bank.
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