Life in a new property can be fun and exciting, especially when decorating your room or making the most of areas such as balconies and walk-in wardrobes. However, moving into a new place also means you need to start doing things differently regarding waste disposal.
Although recycling is not compulsory in all states, even those who don’t recycle at home will feel inclined to do so after learning about how much waste they’ve accumulated throughout their belongings.
Here are some tips on how to stay waste-free in your new property:
1. Store items neatly
As you take items out of cardboard boxes, the ideal scenario is to store them neatly in labeled plastic bins, not leaving things stacked on top of each other.
If you plan to utilize kitchen cabinets or drawers for your storage needs, make sure you clean out the cabinets and drawers before filling them up. Label all containers (e.g., “kitchen towels,” “keepsakes”) so that everyone knows where to find things.
2. Buy reusable shopping bags.
The best way to avoid using plastic shopping bags is by having your own set of reusable shopping bags that you can take with you wherever you go.
We would also recommend investing in durable cloth produce bags for bulk food items such as rice/grains, nuts, seeds, pasta, etc. Plastic pollution has recently become such a subject in achieving a safe environment worldwide.
3. Be wary of hazardous materials
Some “housewarming gifts” may contain toxic or hazardous items to the environment (e.g., aerosols, pesticides). If you are not planning on using these items right away, make sure you store them out of reach from children and pets. Also, make sure to follow any disposal instructions on the product packaging.
4. Donate your old items
Instead of relegating certain items to storage for rainy days, why not pass them on? You can donate anything that is still in good condition (tools/appliances/furniture/clothing), but please do your research before donating an item (e.g., contact local charities to see if they accept certain items). Here is an example of the steps I took before granting a dresser:
Step I: Survey your waste stream and identify what you can reuse/recycle and compost.
Step II: Make sure that your donations will benefit those in need, or resell them at a garage sale or a consignment shop for a small profit.
Step III: Separate all materials into piles according to type.
- Cardboard goes here
- Styrofoam packaging goes here
- Plastic food wraps go here
- The paper goes here (including magazines)
- Aluminum foil and drink can go here
- Glass jars/bottles go here
- Plastics labeled 1-7 go into the plastic bin.
Step IV: Decipher what goes into recycling, compost, and landfill piles.
Recyclable items include paper scraps (e.g., newspaper/boxboard), as well as clean aluminum foil and drink cans. You can compost food scraps and other biodegradable items such as leaves, grass clippings, etc.
You should throw out landfill items if there is too much contamination (food scraps or dirt). If you cannot determine which pile an item belongs to and need suggestions on recycling it, check out this comprehensive list.
5. Participate in recycling programs
Many counties (e.g., San Diego ) accept different types of recyclable items, such as plastics 1-7, glass jars/bottles, aluminum foil, and tin cans. If your county does not offer it yet, encourage your local government leaders to create one.
When you start shifting into this mindset of reducing waste at the source, more opportunities will allow you to stay waste-free.
You can also consider starting a home compost pile with backyard materials. To find out if your item is compostable, check out this list of commonly thrown away items but are compostable. And remember: no matter how much you reduce or reuse, you will never be able to avoid collectively throwing things in the trash. It is all about balance.
6. Explore natural ways of repelling insects
One way to avoid buying harmful pesticides (which are not worth it anyway) is by planting marigolds throughout your property. These beautiful flowers act as natural deterrents against unwanted bugs, which were named “the flower that drives away witches” by Spanish explorers.
Also, consider planting basil and fennel, which make great pestos! And if you do end up with a pest problem (e.g., ants in the kitchen), there are many eco-friendly solutions available for purchase online or in stores, such as these organic pesticides. Other options include ginger, cloves, and peppermint oil.
7. Use compostable material for everything
Composting is a great way to reduce organic waste and help grow your soil for landscaping or gardening purposes. As long as you have a garbage disposal unit in your sink, there isn’t any excuse to throw your food in the trash.
And even though you can always take out compost bins, there are many ways to reduce organics without having a compost pile or buying compostable bags at the grocery store.
For example, if you have old paper towels that are too ripped up for regular use, you can shred them up and add them to your garden! No need to buy biodegradable bags when you can make your own.
8. Hire a skip
Many people need to hire a skip service for various reasons. For example, you might want to clear old furniture, or perhaps it’s your garden that is full of rubbish that needs taking care of.
No matter what your reason is a skip hire company can be the most sensible way to get rid of all the rubbish.
If your rubbish removal work makes it necessary for you to hire a skip then there’s no harm in it and it is actually good for the environment saving you a trip to the dump.
Now that we’ve covered how to stay waste-free in your new property, it’s time for the big question. What should you do with all of this newfound knowledge? We recommend integrating some or all these tips into an action plan and following through on them one by one.
If you prefer a more holistic approach, start small by recycling where possible and minimizing your trash output at home (especially if you live alone). Once you get used to living waste-free, please take the next step and make sure everyone else in your household is doing their part too.
You can even organize a community clean-up day once every few months to help keep our Earth looking great together. Stay tuned for future blog posts about others.