As new reports come out about the staggering effects of climate change and trash in our oceans, it is imperative that the human race acts before it is too late. Many Americans resort to recycling as their contribution to saving the environment. However, according to a report by National Geographic, 91% of the world’s plastic is not recycled. Additionally, according to several reports by students, the recycling at our school is actually dumped into the dumpster. Because of the flaws in our recycling system, it is recommended to take steps toward living a zero-waste lifestyle.

Living a zero-waste lifestyle seems very difficult now because of the way that wasteful and single-use plastic products have been mainstreamed. There are many ways to cut down on waste that are easy, fast, cost-effective and most importantly, better for the environment.

In the kitchen, according to the Huffington Post, one of the easiest ways to reduce waste is to use reusable shopping bags. Not only is this a huge waste reducer, but retailers such as Target give a small discount to consumers that shop with their reusable bags. Reusable water bottles and food containers are also an incredible plastic reducer. Additionally, food is an enormous source of waste in the United States. It is recommended to start a meal plan so that families can minimize the amount of food that is thrown away and start a compost pile for discarded items. Many families also have a Keurig coffee maker which produces an unrecyclable used K-cup. Keurig just came out with a reusable K-cup that allows people to fill it with coffee grinds and run the machine as normal while reducing waste

Another one of the biggest forms of waste is packaging. Before buying something, be sure to check if it is compostable or recyclable at the very least. Some companies such as Lush cosmetics and MAC provide incentives for consumers to return empty containers and receive a free product in return. Stores such as packagefreeshop.com are providing consumers with incredible opportunities to reduce waste in the form of mailing back empty containers for refill rather than recycling or throwing in the trash.

In general, experts have a few more tips to reduce waste. It is recommended to learn about recycling rules. According to National Geographic, many people are ‘wishful’ recyclers and simply put things in the recycling hoping it won’t end up in a landfill. Buying higher quality products instead of several cheap products over the course of time allows people to dispose of things less often. Finally, in the digital age, it is easier than ever to take advantage of technology to eliminate waste.