Looking for ways to reduce your waste? Here’s how to cut back on the garbage you produce at home

One way to make your home more eco-friendly is to cut back on the amount of trash you produce on a regular basis. It’s easier than you think. Here’s how to reduce your garbage.

1. Don’t buy it. The surest way to reduce your output is by cutting the input. For ideas and moral support, you could join The Compact, an international online community that has vowed to buy nothing new (excluding food, beverages and health essentials) for a whole year.

2. Build a backyard or worm composter. They can take most of the smelly things that normally go into your green bin, including all vegetable and fruit scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and eggshells.

3. Ask to use your neighbour’s composter. Remember, you are really doing him a favour, as every kilogram of apple cores and onion peels translates into 500 grams of garden manna in six months.

4. Bring your empty yogurt containers to a bulk store to stock up on flour, sugar, dried fruit and spices.

5. Leave the packaging at the store. That’s what German shoppers did in the 1990s, prompting the government to force manufacturers to start paying the full tab for recovery of packaging waste.

6. Try cloth diapers for a month. If you get hooked, you could save up to 8,000 diapers from eventually ending up in landfill (and, for now, your porch) for each of your children. You can buy a gently used set on Craigslist or sign up for a diaper service that will pick up the soiled diapers and drop off pristine replacements every week.

7. Head to the farmers’ market with your cloth bag. That way you’ll avoid the polystyrene foam and other packaging so often encasing food in the supermarket.

8. Donate your toilet and paper towel rolls, as well as your used – and cleaned – yogurt containers to a nearby kids’ camp for their art program.

9. Cut back on meat. You’ll not only avoid stockpiling the smelliest part of your mounting garbage, but you’ll also make a big dent in your carbon footprint. Meat production puts out about one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases.

10. Put off your “spring cleaning” until the fall.

First published in the Toronto Star on June 6, 2009.

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