How to Do Waste Management at Home in 10 Steps

 

We’ve seen the facts. The world has embraced consumerism, creating so much trash that unreal amounts of waste are slowly monopolizing the ocean. Since there’s no great way to dispose of it, we end up endangering the quality of the whole planet.

 

For that very reason, we’re constantly making efforts to fight consumerism here at Tikki. Gradually, we’ve replaced plastic bags with cardboard boxes, we’ve started using a water-based adhesive for some of our shoes, and we’ve become more mindful of how we dispose and recycle the materials we no longer use. Everybody can do their part, no matter how small.

 

With so much waste being generated, we can easily take part in the quest for a cleaner and healthier environment by simply practicing proper waste management methods at home.

 

There’s no quick hack to help you efficiently and quickly manage your waste at home, but we’ve got your back with a few tips and tricks that will make the task a bit easier!

 

Step 1: Get informed

 

To recycle or not to recycle? This is the real question.

 

Not everything that we buy can be recycled. For example, most food wrapping materials are not recyclable. Things like empty bags of chips or candy wrappers belong in the trash bin. This also includes paper towels, napkins, and tissues once they’ve been contaminated with food waste or cleaning chemicals. Why? Because during the recycling process, it’s difficult to separate the recyclable paper fibers from other substances, especially oils.

 

For that, we need to keep ourselves informed. Every country has its regulations, so make sure you do your research.

 

You already might be familiar with the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. They’re an important part of sustainable living, as each one of them stands for different stages of the waste management journey. However, the facts are different. Reusing is often neglected in favor of recycling. Although it’s still better than single-use consumption, the bigger picture here is to minimize waste as much as possible.

 

So, don’t focus mainly on buying new sustainable products. Instead, use what you already have!

 

Step 2: Ditch the plastic bags

 

Here’s the thing: managing plastic waste turns out to be more challenging since it can’t be entirely recycled. Especially the plastic bags.

 

Many recycling programs don’t accept plastic bags because they tend to get caught up in the sorting machine. This can damage the machinery and slow the recycling process. For that reason, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. And there’s more! Due to their lightweight form, most of the time they just get blown away to places they shouldn’t be like the ocean, the forest, even in our own backyards. So, what can we do about it?

 

How about next time when you’re going to the grocery shop, carry your own shopping bag rather than buying new plastic bags? The general rule of thumb is, instead of throwing them away, save them for re-use. Or, if you’re fully committed, you can make the switch to cloth bags. Our advice is to plan ahead when doing groceries and always go for reusable bags!

 

Step 3: Buy items with minimal packaging

 

We know how difficult it can get when almost everything nowadays comes wrapped in plastic. Sometimes, even fresh fruit and veggies! But let’s not lose hope; there’s always a way.

 

You can start by using the bulk food section in the store. Some things like fair-trade coffee, granola, meats, grains, and spices can also be bought in bulk. Next, you can store them in airtight glass jars and plastic containers that you certainly already have around the house. Not only will you be reducing packaging waste, but you’ll also end up saving up more money in the long run!

 

However, if there aren’t any bulk stores available in your neighborhood, then you could try to look for products that don’t have that much packaging. When going to your supermarket, compare brands and pick items made from materials that can be recycled.

 

Shop smart and don’t forget your reusable bags!

 

Step 4: Repurpose old containers

 

Reusing and recycling are two concepts that go hand in hand. Before recycling an item, ask yourself if you can still reuse it. In order to limit your monthly household waste, you need to start thinking twice before throwing something away.

 

Reusing different types of containers can really help cut down on unwanted packaging. Most glass and tin containers can be reused to store dry goods, leftovers, crayons, cutlery, and so on. Plastic containers are also great for regular storage too, just be careful not to reuse them too many times for food, as after a while, they start breaking down.

 

Every now and then, have a look around your house and visualize where you might need to reorganize things by using a container. Even paper bags can be reused to hold recyclables, or repurposed as gift bags.

 

Instead of plastic baggies, aluminum foil, and cling wrap, you might want to invest in other green alternatives such as reusable silicone bags, beeswax wraps, or the oldest trick in the book, the plate over bowl method; it works wonders every time for us!

 

Step 5: Filter water at home

 

Just like the bags, plastic bottles have their own environmental issues. Among the most collected trash items found in the ocean, plastic bottles and bottle caps rank in third and fourth place.

 

Here’s how you can get rid of plastic water bottles. Forever. By filtering water at home! It’s a viable solution that is going to save you a lot of money. Especially if you have a big family just like us!

 

Many would think bottled water is healthier than tap water, but actually, it’s just a myth. In fact, bottled water may contain microplastics that over time can accumulate in our liver, kidneys, and intestines, resulting in health issues.

 

To benefit our health and the environment altogether, simply filter your tap water! You can choose between a filtering system for your whole house and/or a water filtration cup. The filters usually last around two months, and, if you don’t want to bring even more plastic into your home, there are also plastic-free alternatives, made from charcoal.

 

Thinking about going outside with the kids on a hot summer day? Don’t forget to bring your own reusable bottle filled with delicious tap water or homemade lemonade!

 

Step 6: Reduce food waste

 

Food scraps don’t break down in landfills. Mainly because these places are designed for storage and not decomposition. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), over 24% of municipal solid waste is sent to landfills; more than any other material.

 

Therefore, one of the easiest ways to reduce household waste is to cut down on food packaging and divert your food scraps.

 

The key is planning; have a shopping list, be realistic (as in don’t buy more than you need), take daily inventories of your fridge, and use leftover foods. Don’t throw them right away. Instead, you can save vegetable scraps - carrot and potato peels, celery and onion ends, cilantro and parsley stems - by putting them in the freezer. Later on, you can easily turn them into a yummy vegetable stock, full of amazing good nutrients!

 

Also, you could start a little project and grow your own herbs! It will be a great family activity and you will teach your little ones the basics of gardening and patience!

 

Step 7: Start composting

 

Here’s where the real fun begins! After making so many efforts to reduce home waste, any residual food scraps can be composted. The result? The most nutritious soil to nourish your garden and indoor potted plants!

 

It’s also a good way to teach our kids about conservation and recycling techniques. Composting perfectly portrays the circle of life and the circular consumption. Just because something is dated, it doesn’t mean it can’t be revived. In a composting bin, old fruit and vegetable scraps will become the foundation for new plants and eventually, more food.

 

What can be composted? Well, it’s a bit tricky. As much as we wish to compost everything, some items just aren’t compostable, such as grease, dairy products, ink-coated paper, or disease-ridden plants. You can however compost dry leaves, grass clippings, packaging paper, your hair, banana peels, coffee grounds, and the list goes on. The science behind composting is utterly captivating!

 

One more thing! There are many ways to compost organic waste, so choose yours accurately, according to your home and needs.

 

Step 8: Switch from paper towels to washcloths

 

As you’ve already noticed, if you want to reduce waste, you have to stay away from single-use items. Like we said earlier, depending on what you clean up with them, paper towels are not always suitable for recycling or composting.

 

If we’re talking about cleaning up oil, butter, or anything that’s greasy, then keep it out of the recycling bin and compost pile. The same philosophy applies if they’re used with cleaning products. The chemicals found in conventional cleaning products are harmful to the microorganisms that exist within the compost, making them unacceptable for recycling too.

 

But don’t despair! Although paper towels are such a handy household item, they can easily be replaced with greener options like washcloths, towels, even old t-shirts. Once dirty, simply toss them in the washing machine. We found this to be also a budget-friendly solution as kids can get kinda messy when learning to eat.

 

Likewise, skip the classic plastic sponges, and exchange them for more eco-friendlier options like natural loofahs or scrub brushes.

 

Step 9: Consider making your own household cleaners

 

Instead of throwing away tons of cleaning containers every time, why not reuse them by making your own formulas? It’s cheaper, just as effective, and better for our health and the planet!

 

Don’t be surprised to find out that you already have some of the ingredients in your pantry! Just a simple combination between vinegar, water, and lemon rind can do the trick to remove hard water stains or wipe away wall smudges. Plus, storing them in glass containers or old plastic ones will help you slash your waste output while creating a chemical-free environment for your family. There are many good cleaning product recipes you can find online.

 

If you’re still a bit skeptical about all-purpose DIY cleaners, then a better option for you would be to buy cleaning products and detergents in bulk. Or look for refillable products. There are some green brands out there that come with refill options and recycling programs for their products.

 

Step 10: Sharing is caring, so don’t hoard

 

Many of us have the habit of holding onto clothes, books, childhood toys, and other stuff that we no longer use or need, but we cherish and love. In order to make a conscious decision to reduce waste, do your best to follow the minimalist way of leaving.

 

Our advice is to keep only what you need and look for ways to repurpose things. For example, any items that you’re not using anymore but that are still in mint condition can be donated to foster cares, community homes, or other institutions that could put them to better use.

 

Or you could organize a fun garage sale with your friends and neighbors! Involve as many people as possible; something that you own but got bored of might make the perfect gift your neighbor's been looking for all year!

 

Waste Not, Want Not

 

Overall, it all comes down to creating good long-lasting habits. These steps might seem insignificant if only one person does them, but small changes do have a big impact.

 

There are a few essential rules when it comes to handling waste management at home. It begins with turning down single-use products - that are mostly made out of plastic - and finding greener ways to declutter our homes. The conclusion? Don’t be too quick to recycle just yet, upcycle instead!

 

Choose to be mindful and inspire others to follow your lead. Together, we can take more healthy steps towards more sustainable habits.

 

Including your little ones! Tikki® barefoot shoes tick all the boxes, give them a try!

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