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How to Reduce Your Waste with Reusable Items

written by: Nicky LaMarco•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 3/9/2009

A complete guide to stop using disposable items, including links to the best reusable products!

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    In the United States we generate 4.5 pounds of waste every single day, according to Wikipedia. 55% of that 4.5 pounds of waste is residential, while the other 45% is from manufacturing, commercial trade and retailing. The United States create more waste than any other nation in the world.

    This can be seen just about anywhere you go. Trash dumped on the side of the road. Cigarette butts on the ground. Wrappers outside stores. Children's toys left outside and forgotten. Helpful people walking down the sides of streets with trash bags trying to help the environment by cleaning up the trash that has been irresponsibly littered.

    Most of the waste we have is made up of paper, plastic, metal, glass, and wood. This includes items that are thrown away such as newspapers, magazines, packing materials, office paper, cardboard, drinking containers, tech waste, cans, scrap metal, home appliances, building materials, windows, and bottles. ALL of these items can be recycled! However, they are filling up landfills and littering the earth. Not much makes it to the recycling facility. Many of these items can remain in landfills for millions of years before completely breaking down.

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    First, stop buying bottles of water, juice and soda. Buy large amounts of these drinks. Use a water filter instead of buying bottled water. Purchase a reusable bottle for your water. Get another one for your coffee and make it at home instead of stopping somewhere on the way to work. If you have to stop somewhere bring your reusable coffee container and ask them to fill that instead of a disposable paper, plastic, or (worse!) foam cup.

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    Shopping Bags

    Plastic or Paper? Neither! Buy resuable shopping bags, like these. Take them with you every time you go shopping. They are great for grocery shopping, but keep one or two in your car for clothes shopping, shoe shopping, department store shopping, and anything else! You will never have to use and throw away plastic or paper bags again. Cities in the United States are banning plastic shopping bags because they create so much waste. Your town might be next!

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    Do you or your children use disposable lunch bags? Stop. Use a reusable lunch box or lunch tote to carry your lunch in. It will help keep your food cooler, too!

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    Dispose of disposable diapers. From conception you should be making a choice to use cloth diapers so others will not buy you disposable diapers. Cloth diapers are better for the environment and the money you save can be put in a college fund for baby.

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    Even disposable plastic bags (like Ziploc) don't have to be used anymore. Use a reusable baggy. Save money and earth.

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    Wrapping Paper

    Skip the wrapping paper and use newspapers, magazines, and any other paper material you might otherwise throw away.

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    Recycle and Donate

    Before you throw something out think about donating it or recycling it. Clothing, books, magazines, newspapers, toys, and furniture can all be donated or recycled. Check your local library for donating books, magazines, and newspapers. Donate clothes, toys and furniture to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

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    Stop using paper towels. Instead, try a reusable towel for your kitchen and cleaning needs. Invest in some cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. Use a microfiber eyeglass cleaner rather than disposable ones. Do away with paper cups and plastic utensils.

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    Change the Way You Think

    We often think and buy in terms of disposability. If it can be thrown away after use it is seen as more convenient. The next time you go shopping think in terms of longevity, not disposability.