Have you heard of the “Great Pacific garbage patch”?  It’s a giant island, roughly the size of Texas, of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean.  Did you hear of the fire that recently happened at the Deonar garbage dump in Mumbai?  It was so large that the plume of smoke it generated could be seen from space.  These are terrifying facts to think of, but only emphasizes that every piece of trash we litter comes back to haunt us.  The average American produces around 1,500 pounds of waste every year.  Yet reducing your waste doesn’t have to be a major undertaking, or do anything to hinder your lifestyle.  Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your waste, based off an article on the site “Recyclebank”:

Buy foods in bulk: At 30 percent, packaging and food containers are the largest component of municipal solid waste.  The best way to combat this is to buy foods, particularly nonperishables, in bulk.  We don’t all have the storage space to buy everything in bulk, but when you can, opt for the biggest size possible among your available options.  

Use reusable containers: If you get coffee every morning on your way to work, bring a reusable mug instead of getting a paper one every time.  The same goes for lunches; think of using a reusable box instead of a ziploc baggie.  At bars, go for beers on tap, since bottles will just get disposed of (beer on tap also tends to taste better, but that’s beside the point).  

Pick items with recyclable packaging: Sometimes you can’t avoid disposable packaging, but that doesn’t mean you’re helpless; when looking at all the options for buying something, think about the container.  In general, recycling paper is easier than plastic, so try for cardboard.  Think about items with less packaging as well.  

Go for paperless billing: When you can, use paperless billing and pay your utilities online.  To stop junk mail from coming to your mailbox, you can get on a do-not-contact list; contact the Federal Trade Commission and Catalog Choice both offer ways to opt out of junk mail.

If you print, go double-sided: Printing on both sides literally halves how many resources you use and the waste you produce when you don’t need the documents any more.  And if possible, don’t print at all, and opt for sharing online or transferring to a thumb drive.