The amount of waste we produce is staggering. The average American household produces 4.5 pounds of trash every single day. Combined we throw out something on the order of 243 million tons of trash every year. Just to put that in perspective, it means that the average household throws away more than 99 percent of everything it purchases every year! We are addicted to waste.
The estimated 2.6 billion greeting cards sold in the US each year could fill a football field 10 stories high. Each year we throw away 38,000 miles of gift wrap ribbon. At that quantity, we could tie a bow around the planet! The average American office worker uses 500 disposable cups every year. Americans collectively still use around 1 billion plastic shopping bags each year creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste. It is all truly staggering.
Is there a solution? I think there is, and I really don't think it is all that complex. Perhaps we've heard the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle" so frequently that we have stopped hearing it. First and foremost, we must learn to reduce our impact through more thoughtful living. Admittedly, it requires constant care and dedication. I have tackled the ethic required to engage in reduction on numerous occasions on this blog and will continue to do so.
Reuse and recycling, however, are far easier and really leave no room for excuse. There is no reason that the average American office worker should be using 500 disposable cups every year. One reusable coffee mug or even an old canning jar should have been sufficient. There is no reason we should be producing 1 billion plastic shopping bags each year. Reusable cloth bags are now widely sold and very affordable. We even sell reusable cloth bags that scrunch up small enough to clip to your key chain if you are prone to forgetting your bag.
We are so accustomed to buying everything pre-packaged and pre-labeled that we too frequently discard items equally fitted to the very task for which we are buying a new item. With that said, I'd like to share just 10 simple reuse ideas for you and for your home.
1. Purchase a few nice reusable shopping bags and eliminate the need for plastic bags entirely.
3. Cut those old shirts into handy cleaning rags
4. Don't let all that cold water run down the drain. Place a five gallon bucket under the shower head, install a temperature regulating turn off, and reuse the cold water for your plants.
5. Compost your food waste! That organic matter mixed with the toxins in a landfill is of no use. Reuse those nutrients in your vegetable garden or flower beds.
6. Use a stainless steel or glass water bottle. There is simply no need for all of those plastic water bottles!
7. If you need batteries, purchase a solar battery charger and a few nice rechargeable batteries.
9. Invest in cloth diapers! They are really easy to use these days.
10. Check out all of the free ideas from our Facebook community reuse photo contest!!
Have other ideas of your own? Comment here or submit them to our photo contest before August 16th.
Vincent M. Smith