paper coffee cup

To-go coffee cups may be easy… but they are incredibly wasteful. Bring a reusable mug from home instead!
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Being green at home is easy enough to do—it just has to be thought of. Our culture is one of consumption, and from an early age many of us are taught to consume what we need and throw out all the rest. The problem is, when there are more than 7 billion inhabitants of our planet, that amounts to a heck of a lot of waste.

Imagine someone throwing out an old, unused (and maybe even broken) cell phone. It’s a pretty small object, right? The impact can’t be that much of an issue. Now let’s consider that 6 billion of the world’s 7 billion people have access to cell phones. Take into account the fact that cell phones generally last 2-5 years before getting tossed, and suddenly in a five-year period you’ve got 6 billion trashed cell phones.

The average American produces somewhere around 1,600 pounds of garbage each year. In Mexico, that number tends to go up by about 30 percent. Countries around the world will vary, but these numbers alone paint a clear enough picture.

While it may not feel like one person can impact the global amount of waste, they can. It’s the small deeds of many that will enact great change. If just one American could cut their average waste in half, that would add up to 800 pounds on average of stuff not going into a landfill—and that sure seems like a win.

So, how can you reduce waste at home? Here are a few easy tips to get you started:

Support companies that support the environment. Buy items that use minimal, recyclable, or compostable packaging.

Compost kitchen scraps. This is truly one of the easiest things to do. Many cities have compost/yard waste bins, so all you need to do is have a separate compost container for scraps. If your city doesn’t support composting, you can easily create your own compost pile.

Swap the paper for cloth. Instead of paper towels, use dish rags and reusable napkins. You can even use cloth diapers and feminine products.

Eat healthier—meaning, buy whole foods instead of packaged ones. Get ripe tomatoes and chop them instead of buying a ton of cans of chopped tomatoes. It will take a little extra time, but you’ll be both healthier and greener! Also make sure your refrigerator is efficient so that food stays fresh longer!

Carry reusable shopping bags. Say no to plastic bags and wow store cashiers with your handy-dandy reusable bag. It’s a trend worth starting if it hasn’t already begun in your city.

Bring a reusable tumbler to the coffee shop instead of getting a paper cup each time you visit. Lots of coffee shops will even give you a small discount for doing this!

Use rechargeable batteries. Not only are they environmentally friendly, you won’t have to keep a container of old batteries around for that day when you finally take them to be properly disposed of.

Do you already live in a “green” home? What do you do to stay environmentally responsible?