Let’s dive straight into this topic. If you don’t have a knack for the habit of recycling, or if the area you live in does not have active recycling centers, consider adopting the below methods instead to reduce your household waste, minimize energy consumption and ultimately help to keep the environment clean and slow down climate change.
1. Learn to DIY (Do It Yourself) and Repair Your Household Items
We often throw away items that are no longer functioning or have some cosmetic defect such as stains or scratches on them. The truth is if you are able to repair an item or refurbish it to make it look good again, you are not only able to save money but you are also reducing waste accumulation into the environment.
The ability to repair and fix up a household item, be it electronic gadgets, children’s toys, hacks to remove stains from a shirt or even the act of sewing actually has other huge benefits.
By figuring out how to fix an item you are sharpening your own abilities be it in problem solving or troubleshooting skills which can be applied to other aspects of your life specifically your job. At the very least, you attain the attitude of “I can do this myself’ or self-confidence in your abilities and willingness to put in the effort to learn how to analyze and repair a broken product. You would be surprised at how easy it is to repair some common defects, like cleaning leaked battery rust of the battery contact of your kid’s toys, soldering a detached wire on your headphones, or just sewing on replacement buttons on your shirt.
If you want to improve your DIY skills, one way to do it is to join a Facebook group of like-minded individuals who have frequent open discussions on daily fixes needed around the home. I will link one of these groups below for your reference. I and my husband have learned a lot from the members in these groups from replacing toilet sink drainage, fixing our kid’s electronic toys, or even how to make our outdoor wooden furniture last longer by applying wood varnish.
Alternatively, you can always check out Youtube for ways to troubleshoot and repair an item or learn the basic skill of sewing, painting, or refurbishing furniture.
2. Buy Good Quality Items
Good quality items last years longer in comparison to other items of lower grade that will usually be cheaper in price, but also may be easily spoilt and need replacements more frequently. Specifically for items of frequent use or is used for our bodily comfort, it may be worth spending more for a better built and longer-lasting product. Some examples are shoes, mattresses, maybe a good pair of jeans.
Let’s take shoes for example. I can say that I have had to change my shoes at the very least once a year since I started working, due to the shoes I got were cheaper and they tend to wear out at the base of the heel over time due to my excessive walking or the shoes may split open at the seams.
Then I bought myself my first pair of Sketchers about 3 years ago in 2018 and these shoes still function as though they are new, and not to mention the comfort I feel when I used these shoes compared to my previous pairs were vastly different. Sure, the price was five times more expensive than the previous cheap shoes I used to buy in the past, but I would say the price justified the comfort and the longevity of the product. No regrets there, and I stopped buying multiple cheap shoes that ended up being thrown away within six months to less than a year of use.
3. Become a Minimalist
Buy and keep only and only what you need, this is the basic concept of minimalism. It’s a kind of anti-materialistic culture whereby having less stuff is considered more, and clutter is avoided at all costs in the home. The emphasis is on having more time and energy to spend on doing things and living by having fewer material items. This movement is catching on quite wildly at current, especially among the millennials and Gen Y generation. Undoubtedly, these minimalist habits will align with waste reduction since these communities of people consume much less.
4. Just be Asian
This is the simplest method, and I believe this already applies to most of you reading, due to the fact that the majority of readers of this blog are mainly Malaysians. Malaysians tend to commonly re-use and re-purpose packing materials such as packing bottles and plastic bags to contain other household items, and some of these can be used for years. We would re-use a glass bottle of jam to keep cookies or repurpose it to hold our toothbrushes in the bathroom. Durable food containers can be re-used again to contain cooked foods or cut fruits in the fridge, juice bottles re-used as drinking bottles or used as water containers, even plastic bags from supermarkets are reused as trash bags at home. I myself reuse wooden ice-cream sticks for craft activities with the kids, and keep those plastic spoons from outside eateries for home use too. These steps reduce household wastes by a good degree.
5. Menstrual cups and potty training
I will cover both of the above into the same category because it has to do with human waste management. Specifically, women’s sanitary pads and disposable infant diapers.
For ladies, if we are between the ages from the start of menstruation and before menopause, consider using menstrual cups instead of sanitary pads which need to be disposed of after every use. Of course with menstrual cups a higher level of cleanliness discipline is required to prevent any complications from infections.
As for infant diapers, typically babies can go through 3-5 disposable diapers a day, and over the course of two years where toddlers may start potty training, this is a very significant amount of wastes. If your child is capable of being potty trained earlier (which pre-requisites include the ability of your child to communicate his or her needs to you, and has shown that they are able to control their bladder by having long stretches of dry diapers), I would encourage parents to proceed to do so with their child. Another way is to use cloth diapers from birth but this is more practical for children with stay-at-home parents.
These are the five alternative ways that will help to reduce wastes accumulation in our landfills and the environment. The fact is, recycling alone is not enough to make a significant change in waste reduction, why not support further by adopting the above practical methods along with recycling.