Reducing Waste & Environmental Impact at Home

Jess Ann Kirby discusses how to reduce waste and lessen your environmental impact at home

I was so excited and happy reading all of your comments on last week’s blog post about eliminating single use plastics. There is so much more to be said (and to be done) on that topic but I’m happy to get the conversation started. Over the weekend I read an article about IKEA eliminating all single use plastics by 2020 and moving towards becoming climate positive by 2030 (it will reduce emissions beyond the amount they create). For this week’s #JAKWELLNESS12 challenge I want to bring the focus on what we can do at home to reduce waste and our environmental impact. Since buying our house last year Craig and I have made it a major priority to reduce our consumption and waste. I think the biggest key to doing these things successfully is making them habits. Some take a little time, but with consistency it’s amazing how quickly you realize what you can do in your own household. I’ve outlined some suggestions below but this is of course just a small window into what you can do, and as always I’d love to hear in the comments what you’re doing to reduce waste and your environmental impact at home. Don’t forget to comment, every time you do you are entered into my monthly and year end #JAKWELLNESS12 challenge giveaways.

Jes Ann Kirby has been composting at home for over a year to reduce her waste at home and give nutrient rich soil to her garden

How to Reduce Waste at Home

-Recycle. Seems like an obvious one right? Believe it or not people are actually recycling less (particularly when it comes to cardboard boxes). With online shopping on the rise, it means more cardboard in landfills. Make sure to find out the recycling rules in your town, and this is a helpful article on what you might be recycling wrong.

-Compost. Recycling is great, but what’s even better is reducing the amount of things you throw away. We started composting last year and it has drastically reduced the amount of waste that gets thrown away. It also means we have really rich nutrients to add to our garden.

-Buy in Bulk. We talked about ditching plastic last week, and you can go a step further by using glass containers to store food that you buy in bulk at the store. Our local grocery store has an entire section where you can buy in bulk (coffee, grains, etc.) so you can avoid unnecessary packaging. Thrive Market has an incredible selection of eco friendly housewares.

-Conserve Energy. One of the biggest selling points for us when we bought this house was the fact that it had solar panels. This is of course, a bigger expense so not necessarily realistic for everyone, but definitely worth looking into depending on where you live. Many states have incredible incentive programs for homeowners that install solar panels. When you’re not home or when you leave a room, turn off the lights, unplug appliances that don’t need to stay plugged in (coffee maker, toaster, etc.).

-Clean Products. Not only do cleaning products pollute the environment, they can negatively impact your health. This is a really helpful list of clean products to use in your household. We also did a post on making your own cleaning products here.

-Rethink Renovations. This is not only a great way to save money but rethinking how you renovate your house can have a huge environmental impact. Yes our dishwasher and oven are old, but they work, if you don’t have to replace something, think twice before buying a new one. If something does need replacing look for energy saving appliances. If you’re painting look for eco-friendly brands.

-Eat Less Meat. A recent study found that eating less meat and dairy can be the single biggest factor in reducing your impact on the environment. It does not say you have to go vegan tomorrow, but make a conscious effort to reduce meat consumption.

Let me know what I’ve missed, I am sure there’s a lot. Thanks for chiming in!

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  1. Bree wrote:

    Loving this series! We’ve been trying to convert to buying in bulk lately and have cut way back on our meat consumption. Next step is to try and cut back on seafood!

    xx Bree

    6.11.18 | Reply
  2. Lindsay wrote:

    I always assumed I’d have to wait til we owned a house to compost (nyc apartment living doesn’t leave much space for a compost pile) but there are compost drop off sites alllllll over the city, especially at farmers mkts, so now I get to live my urban life and compost! I drop it off 1-3 times a week on my way to work and get to have all the “I’m saving the planet” feel good vibes without any of the mess. Highly recommend if you’re in a city!

    6.11.18 | Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      That is so amazing! Good for you Lindsay, so awesome.

      6.11.18 | Reply
  3. Lauren wrote:

    There should also be emphasis on supporting political candidates who are hardliners for environmentalism. We all should strive to do our part, but at the end of the day, lawmakers and businesses are what affect the environment the most. Stricter laws that regulate corporations that have massive carbon footprints are what we need and we can achieve this not just through consciencious consumption but also through political action.

    Thank you for using your platform for causes like this!

    6.11.18 | Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      I could NOT agree more. That’s actually a great idea for a blog post. It can be very overwhelming trying to be an informed voter but there are great resources out there.

      6.11.18 | Reply
  4. Jessica Camerata wrote:

    Love this post! I just watched The Magic Pill and a big misconception is that meat is bad for the environment. It is for sure the way we mass produce and have zillions of corn fields to feed cows (who don’t eat corn) so it’s best to buy local grass fed happy animals that aren’t harming the environment. Such a mess this world, wish more people felt the way you did about protecting it!

    xo Jessica
    My Style Vita

    6.11.18 | Reply
  5. Katie Gill wrote:

    Love this post Jess! I agree that composting was such a game changer for us, its amazing how little garbage we have each week. One thing that I recently found out from our composting pick up is that if you use unbleached paper towels (I like Seventh Generation) that you can compost these too! We do use reusable cloths now to wipe down the counter and cut down on waste, but there are times that I prefer paper towels, and now I feel so much less guilty about using the unbleached ones because I can put them right into the compost. Have a great week!
    xo Katie

    6.11.18 | Reply
  6. Melissa wrote:

    This is such an important topic, I’m really happy to see it here! I actually just had a recycling bin delivered for my office at work today after I got frustrated with the amount of trash here from lunches to paperwork -everyone’s on board with separating items and I’ll be doing the actual recycling for the office by dropping the items into my bi-weekly pickup (Plus, redeeming all those bottle deposits!) along with recycling plastic shopping bags when I’m at the grocery store.

    I also love composting, it’s something my parents instilled from my grandparents, nothing compostable goes to waste and you’re getting the most out of an item that way!

    6.11.18 | Reply
  7. I also try to buy quality used things, mainly furniture and home decor items which usually saves money but also reduces, hopefully, the amount of demand on new products.

    6.11.18 | Reply
  8. Christina wrote:

    The Goop guide on safe products is awesome – it’s so hard to remember what is clean and what isn’t, so I love the breakdown of those chemicals and what they can be disguised as. It’s such a bummer that so many brands that are thought to be clean and safe score so low, like Mrs. Meyers, etc.

    I like the comment about cutting back on seafood. It’s always so hard to tell what seafood is caught in a sustainable way.

    6.11.18 | Reply
  9. Sarah wrote:

    Recently my hometown stopped accepting glass to recycle because the cost is too high. The local government came up with the motto: “glass is trash.” Great, right?

    I will have to check out my grocery store’s options for buying in bulk. It’s annoying sometimes how much packaging is used for products — food or otherwise!

    6.11.18 | Reply
  10. Melissa wrote:

    Yes! Love these ideas, and I’m so glad to see I’m doing some of them already 😉 I just bought a place a few months ago and really want to start composting. I recycle everything, and I cannot get my father to recycle to save my life. It makes me CRAZY.

    6.11.18 | Reply
  11. Kate wrote:

    We have been working towards reducing our waste. When we ran out of plastic bags, I started making my husband use containers for his sandwiches and chips for work. We also compost and have started making a lot of our own products (peanut butter, body scrubs, etc). Plus shopping second has a huge impact on the environment. I just found a pair of Sezane boots on ThredUp today!

    6.11.18 | Reply
  12. Caley wrote:

    YES! Thank you so much for getting the conversation started on this topic. I live in Boston, so living in a city, I see wastefulness around every corner. I’m proud to say that I can check most of the boxes that you listed above.

    6.13.18 | Reply
  13. Sam wrote:

    I love this! I’m always trying to find ways to reduce waste while also not spending a fortune.

    For anyone looking to use less plastics when it comes to hair products, I highly recommend Lush’s shampoo bars, no plastic! Their products are cruelty free and vegetarian, hand made in Canada (each item has a cute sticker with a cartoon of whoever made the product and when it was made), and they have a products for almost every hair/skin type.

    Also, a lot of their products come in really nice reusable pots that you can either keep and reuse or collect 5 and exchange for a free hair mask.

    I also bought some nice reusable snack bags for my daughter since I refuse buying individually packaged snacks (it’s such a waste of packaging).

    I love reading all these articles and comments and getting ideas of better of new things I should be trying!

    6.15.18 | Reply
  14. We are vegan but we are continually looking for more ways to be environmentally-conscious. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    Allie |

    6.18.18 | Reply
  15. Heather wrote:

    Love this post! Fellow RI resident here–where do you do your bulk shopping? We’re always looking for new places to fill our jars. 🙂

    6.24.18 | Reply
    • Jessica wrote:

      Green Grocer on the island is a great grocery store and they have lots of bulk items. Whole Foods is far for us but if you are near Cranston or Providence I am pretty sure Whole Foods has lots of bulk items.

      6.25.18 | Reply
  16. Brooke white wrote:

    I love this so much! Great suggestions. I just saw that there’s a place in California that uses gluten free fetticine noodles as coffee stirrers 😀 also, in Tulum Mexico, there’s a restaurant that has avocado seed straws!!

    6.25.18 | Reply
  17. Kelsey Radley wrote:

    YES! I appreciate you starting this discussion on this subject. I’m from Boston, therefore being a resident of a big city, I constantly encounter rubbish. I’m pleased to say that I can check the majority of the boxes you’ve provided.

    8.15.23 | Reply

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