I think everyone's pretty aware of the waste problem we have at hand. We've all heard about the endless plastic pollution in the oceans, the garbage island, and now there's even trace amounts of plastic in our food, water, and thus in our bodies.
Luckily, we have people like Leonardo DiCaprio, and Lil Dicky who are using their influence and power to spread awareness, shed light on the facts and inspire people to do what they can to help save our species. Because at the end of the day, Mama Earth is much bigger than us. And she will eventually recover and live on. Humans, however, need to find another solution if we want to survive.
But, I don't believe we're all effed just yet. Sure, we have a president and a large part of the American population who believe global warming is a hoax. But,there's people out there trying to do what's right. There's companies who are coming up with solutions and innovations that will help us leave a better Earth for the next generation. Some are even here in Vegas, but I'll get to them in a minute.
One way you can help the environmental crisis is just by reducing your waste in small, simple steps. I've compiled a huge list of little, easy things we all can do that will help prevent more trash from going into the landfills, reduce the amount of plastic being bought and thrown away, and using our purchasing power to tell companies that we want more eco-friendly products.
Most of these tips below are just a simple swap of products, or bringing a few extra items with you to the grocery store. Just read through and see if any of these seem easy enough for you to fit into your life. Start with one or two things, then move on to other parts of the list and slowly shift your habits to more sustainable ones.
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So the first step is to be aware of what and how much you are consuming. Try to avoid items in one-time, disposable containers, such as disposable coffee cups, ziploc bags, plastic containers, styrofoam to-go containers, etc. Buy products that are package-free or packaged in paper, cardboard, or recycled materials. Here's some tips on how to reduce packaging, especially plastic packaging, on the goods you consume regularly.
Get beeswax food wrap instead of using plastic wrap or ziploc bags
Buy in bulk - Sprouts has a great bulk section for rice, beans, nuts, and more. I bring glass jars or a little bag to scoop it into. If you opt for glass jars, just have them weigh it empty before putting anything in there so they can subtract out the weight when you go to pay for your groceries.
Bring reusable bags to the store or ask for paper bags instead of plastic
Use reusable mesh produce bags and choose produce that isn't packaged.
Bring your own coffee cup and to-go containers!
Carry this utensil & straw kit. It's compact, and fits easily inside a large bag or purse. The kit comes with a foldable spork, 2 collapsible straws, and 2 straw cleaners. I carry it around with me and it has come in handy so many times!
Use loose leaf teas instead of individually wrapped tea bag - Sprouts also has tea in bulk. Bring a jar or your own bag and fill it up!
Shop from Minimal Market LV - they have a really great selection of zero-waste products. You can get dish soap or hand wash in glass jars that you can fill up at a pop up shop like Market in the Alley, or you can choose to have them deliver refills to you if you're a Vegas local! They also have great eco-friendly products such as dish scrubbers, bags, straws, etc.
Clean with an old rag, sock, or even undies instead of using a fresh new paper towel each time you wipe your counters.
Choose to dine in or drink your coffee inside instead of taking it to go - I mean, we're always just so on the go anyways, why not slow down and enjoy your meal or drink until you finish it. Dining in means less plastic containers, cups, and straws.
Use shampoo/conditioner/soap bars instead of liquid ones in plastic containers
Get bamboo toothbrushes - I recommend this one from me.motherearth. They're a local company here in Vegas, and I first saw them at a Market in the Alley. The bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and it even comes with 2 charcoal bamboo floss packs in glass jars. It's all packaged in recyclable materials so there's no plastic in this product!
Use reusable makeup remover pads to wipe off your makeup. They're washable, all natural, and made of bamboo. So you can reuse them over and over again!
Shop from Minimal Market LV for zero waste laundry detergent, shampoo/conditioner, dryer balls, cleaning supplies, etc! Seriously, check them out, they're doing great things for this city and the planet!
Thrift Shopping - with the popularity of "fast fashion", manufacturers are constantly using up resources to make new, cheap, trendy clothes for the masses. Not to mention the unethical labor practices to sustain the cheap prices. You can still find affordable trendy clothes at thrift stores. Check my recommended shops below.
If possible, shop local and in person instead of online - shipping requires extra unnecessary packaging.
Donate old clothes to Savers & Goodwill and give them another life!
Textile Recyling - Turn in a bag of old clothes into an H&M store for recycling. They'll even give you a 15% off coupon!
My go-to thrift stores in Vegas:
Buffalo Exchange on Main Street - They have a nice mix of unique, vintage, and current trendy items. I love to bring in a bag of clothes to swap out and I usually end up with a free outfit!
Savers - Theres plenty of Savers in town but my favorite is the one in Summerlin, on Lake Mead and Rampart. That Savers is really big, clean, and organized, and is likely to have good quality items. I come here for shoes, work clothes, workout gear, and home goods.
Plato's Closet - I've only really shopped at the one in Henderson. They tend to stick to current trend items. Bring in a bag of old clothes and they give you cash for the clothes they take!
Poshmark App - Buy second hand directly from people all over the world on your phone! They have all kinds of clothing from vintage, high end, to trendy. Use my code "judyrina" anywhere on the app for $10 off your first order!
Even though I try my best to do my part in reducing waste or plastic consumption, I don't know how many times I've forgotten my reusable bags to the store, or my reusable straws when I need them. But for those times when you do fuck up, try reusing those plastic bags and containers at least a few more times.
Toothbrushes - reuse those old plastic ones as scrubbers for when you clean shoes, or other small items.
To-go containers - if they can withhold a few washes and uses, I definitely keep those and use them as Tupperware at home!
Plastic coffee cup & straws - wash and reuse for the next time you make coffee at home and want to take it on the road!
Yes, we all know about recycling. Some of us still don't do it though. When I lived in my previous apartments, they didn't even have a recycling program that would come and pick up recyclables. My roommate and I would collect them and drop it off at a friend or family member's recycling bins. I thought it was so crazy that I had to go so far out of my way to do something so simple as recycling. Vegas is not a very eco-friendly city, but I make do with what we have. Here's some tips on recycling in Vegas.
If you live in a complex where they don't do recycling pick up, find a friend or a nearby neighborhood that does.
I mentioned this earlier, but for clothing and other textiles, bring in a bag to any H&M store and they will give you a 15% off coupon.
For electronics that no longer work, bring them into a Best Buy for recycling. You can also try Las Vegas Electronics Recycling as they seem to accept more items that Best Buy doesn't. I have not tried going there yet, but I do have a box of old electronics I've been meaning to bring by there!
I love this article on 11 things to do with old underwear instead of throwing them away. Even if you don't use any of these tips, it gives you some great ideas on how you can be creative and repurpose something before throwing it away!
Buy recycled products - in order for recycling programs to be effective, the recycled material have to be used for something else. And businesses don't do anything unless there's a demand for it. Buy recycled goods as much as possible to show these businesses that's what we want. That includes toilet paper, notebooks, paper towels, tissues, and anything else you can find made of recycled material.
Okay, so composting isn't part of the reduce, reuse, recycle motto, but I thought it was still really important to note. If you have a home with a yard, and you like to garden, I definitely recommend composting yourself. But if you live in an apartment, or you don't want to deal with composting or think it's icky, keep reading.
I used to believe that because I lived in an apartment, and there was no accessible composting facilities in my city, that I couldn't do it. But when there's a will, there's a way. I went to my local farmer's market (the one downtown on Casino Center, happens every Friday from 9am to 2pm) and I spoke to the people that work there. They gladly accept my compostable goods and they even showed me where to go to drop it off in their garden. If you don't live close to downtown, try going to a farmer's market near you, and talk to the farmers that are selling their home grown food! They may accept your compostables.
So here's how I do it - totally smell and mess free!
Get a food scrap bin. This is the same one I use. It's a little pricier but it holds a lot so you don't have to empty it out so often. It's still small enough to fit in my fridge and it holds the average size bin liner.
(Optional) Get some compostable bags. This will make it easier to gather all the scraps and take them to your nearest farmer's market
Collect organic food scraps, such as apple cores, banana peels, potato skins, and any other waste from produce that you would normally throw away.
Keep the bin inside your fridge so it doesn't get smelly.
When the bag gets full, tie it up and store it in the freezer until it's time to take it to a farmer's market
This is the best way I've found to compost in Vegas. I've tried taking my food scraps to Whole Foods or Container Park, in their "compost" bins, only to find out from a Whole Foods employee that they don't actually take it to get composted. They just throw it out like in the trash. (Not sure if that's still true or if that was specific to that location only.) I've tried asking Star Nursery or other nursery stores if they would take it, but they're so corporate, the employees had no clue. It's better to just talk to growers directly that will actually use the stuff.
Another option is Viva La Compost. They will come and pick up your compost scraps for a subscription cost of $25 or $40 a month (depending on how often you would like them to come). Which seems like a great option if you'd rather not deal with dropping it off anywhere and don't mind paying the cost.
Hopefully, Vegas starts getting more eco-friendly and there will be more composting options and facilities but for now, this is how I've been doing it, and it's worked for me so far. With recycling and composting, not much gets thrown out into the actual garbage which is a really great thing for the environment!
So there you have it! My complete list of all the things you can do to try to produce less waste. Hopefully you found a few things on here that you can start with today. Please share with friends and family to spread these good habits that anyone can do. It's better for millions of people trying to do their part in helping the planet, than just a few handfuls of people being perfectly waste-free.