Shrinking your Wasteline
By: Stephanie Baublitz, Living North
New Year’s resolutions are a pledge to be different, better and refreshed in the coming year. Some of us promise to quit bad habits or manage debt, while others may promise to get fit and lose weight. Exercising more, eating less and eating more healthily are all components of shrinking
your waistline. But did you know that it can also help you shrink your wasteline? If a muffin top of plastic, paper, food waste, packaging, metal and glass is bursting from your trash and recycling bins, follow these tips to shrink your waistline and the waste in your bin.
Drinking more water is often one of the first steps toward a new, healthier you, but make sure you are reaching for a reusable bottle instead of bottled water. Americans use over four million plastic bottles every hour, and only about one million of those are recycled! We are lucky enough to live near the largest freshwater lake in the world, yielding clean, tasty and inexpensive water straight from the tap. Reusable water bottles are a great way to save money while saving resources and landfill space.
When noshing on healthy snacks, choose reusable dishes whenever possible. Try packing those carrot sticks, apple slices, crackers or nuts in a reusable container instead of a disposable baggie. It’s also a good
idea to avoid other disposable serveware, by choosing reusable coffee mugs, cutlery, cups and plates at home or away.
Eating smaller portions can trim your waistline quickly, but don’t throw away those leftovers! Pack them for lunch the next day and be sure to compost any food that doesn’t get eaten. Kitchen scraps, leftovers and spoiled foods can be collected and brought to one of Western Lake Superior Sanitary District’s food waste drop sites (visit wlssd.com for locations). Food waste collected from these sites is turned into high-quality Garden Green® compost that can be used to enrich soils. These strategies will cut calories and reduce the amount of trash leaving your home for the landfill.
You can also trim your bulging trash and recycling bins by packing a waste-free lunch for you and your family. Start by purchasing food items in bulk and packing them into reusable containers. Items like
chips, crackers and pretzels can be purchased in family-size bags and repackaged for daily lunches. This method helps control portions and reduces the amount of disposable packaging used. Remember, whole
foods and fresh fruits and vegetables usually don’t come with any packaging at all. Increasing the amount of fresh produce you eat is good for your waistline and your wasteline. For your lunch, also bring a reusable napkin and utensils to cut down on use of paper napkins and disposables. Finally, pack your lunch in a reusable lunch bag, box or tote instead of a paper bag.
Once you have successfully whittled away at your waistline, continue to keep waste to a minimum by
passing on your old clothing. Save your old attire for a yard sale in the spring, donate your gently used clothing to local charities or sell the clothing through local resale or consignment shops. Keep an eye open,
and you may also find some new, smaller-sized additions to your wardrobe at secondhand and thrift stores for a fraction of the cost of new ones.
Make this New Year’s resolution a keeper, by choosing to improve your health and the health of your environment!
Stephanie Baublitz is a Mn GreenCorps (a program of Americorps) member serving with Western Lake Superior Sanitary District.