How To Reduce Your Waste Footprint

Carbon Footprint Reduction Tips

Recycle plastic, glass, metal, and paper

Recycling is an important (and easy) way to live sustainably, reduce your waste, and reduce your impact. It’s especially important to recycle plastic since the equivalent of 1 garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans each minute. Scientists estimate that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish.

Recycle all recyclable products you use for a year  

Potential Yearly Emissions Reductions: -289.91 lbs CO2e  |  Potential Yearly Cost Savings: NA

Recycle all recyclable products you use for a day  

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.79 lbs CO2e per day  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

 

Waste no food

Americans waste 55 million tons of food per year, or a whopping 40% of the food supply. This food waste is responsible for 135 million tons of CO2 emissions. The average family generates 1,800 pounds of CO2e per year from food waste, while the average individual contributes 440 pounds of CO2e per year. Challenge yourself to waste no food by purchasing only what you need, and composting any scraps or peels you can’t eat. 

Waste no food

Potential Yearly Emissions Reductions: -440 lbs CO2e  |  Potential Cost Savings: -$300

Waste 75% less food

Potential Yearly Emissions Reductions: -330 lbs CO2e  |  Potential Cost Savings: -$225

Waste 50% less food

Potential Yearly Emissions Reductions: -220 lbs CO2e  |  Potential Cost Savings: -$150

Buy used instead of new furniture

Buying second-hand products reduces over-production, waste, and carbon emissions, while saving you money. There are many shops (both physical and digital) that offer excellent second-hand items, including: OfferUp, Craigslist, Salvation Army, eBay, Goodwill, and Letgo. Cost savings assume average new furniture piece costs $300, and average price saving of used is 50%. CO2e for a couch are used to represent all furniture items. Data is from Fira Carbon Footprinting Study.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -198.416 lbs CO2e per furniture item  |  Potential Cost Savings: $150

Buy used instead of new electronics

Buying second-hand products reduces over-production, waste, and carbon emissions, while saving you money. There are many shops (both physical and digital) that offer excellent second-hand items, including: OfferUp, Craigslist, Salvation Army, eBay, Goodwill, and Letgo. Cost savings assume average new electronic item costs $400, and average price saving of used is 50%. CO2e for a laptop computer are used to represent all electronics.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -550 lbs CO2e per item  |  Potential Cost Savings: $200

Buy used instead of new clothing

Buying second-hand products reduces over-production, waste, and carbon emissions, while saving you money. There are many shops (both physical and digital) that offer excellent second-hand items, including: OfferUp, Craigslist, Salvation Army, eBay, Goodwill, and Letgo. Some major retailers, like Patagonia, also offer recycled clothing products. Cost savings assume average new item of clothing costs $50, and average price saving of used is 50%. Total retail CO2e of a t-shirt are doubled to get an average CO2e metric for all types of clothing.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -4.98 lbs CO2e per item  |  Potential Cost Savings: $25

Use no plastic bags at the grocery  

Plastic is a major contributor to waste and carbon emissions. Opting for reusable produce and other bags at the grocery eliminates a lot of landfill waste, and emissions. Taking action to eliminate your plastic use is especially important since the equivalent of 1 garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans each minute. Scientists estimate that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.056 lbs CO2e per bag  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

Buy bottle-less personal care products 

When possible, we should all opt to buy products with minimal packaging (such as bars of soap). Taking action to eliminate your plastic use is especially important since the equivalent of 1 garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans each minute. Scientists estimate that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish. If you aren’t sure where to find bottle-less products, Lush carries a line of products called ‘Naked’ that use no plastic packaging.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.1825 lbs CO2e per bottle  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

Use non-disposable razors & bamboo toothbrushes

When possible, we should all opt to buy non-plastic, lifetime use products. Taking action to eliminate your plastic use is especially important since the equivalent of 1 garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans each minute. Scientists estimate that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish. Calculation Note: To get the numbers below, we used the assumption that 6 kgs of CO2e is created for each kg of plastic.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.1825 lbs CO2e per razor or toothbrush  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

Use reusable coffee and tea cups, as opposed to paper or styrofoam

Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day (146 billion cups per year) making the US the leading consumer of coffee in the world. If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup every day, you’ll end up creating about 23 lbs of waste in one year. To add to this, Americans throw away 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups each year. According to a study conducted by Starbucks and the Alliance for Environmental Innovation, each paper cup manufactured is responsible for 0.24 lbs of CO2 emissions. It’s very, very important to use reusable coffee and tea cups as much as possible. All coffee shops and gas station allow you to bring your own cup, and most sell reusable coffee cups, so there’s really no excuse to not opt for reusable! 

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.24 lbs CO2e per cup  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

Ask for no disposable silverware or cups when eating or taking out

6 million tons of single-use plastics are thrown out each year. 90% of this goes straight into our oceans, and is put 700 marine species in danger of extinction. How can you help? As One Green Planet intelligently suggests: ‘Refuse plastic utensils, and use your own reusable utensils! Before heading out the door, just throw a fork or spoon in your purse. Some companies even make pocket utensil sets to carry around! It’s that easy. And if anyone questions why you have a fork in your bag, just tell them you’re doing it to save the lives of millions of marine animals. Maybe they’ll even be inspired to do the same!’ Calculation Note: To get the numbers below, we used the assumption that 6 kgs of CO2e is created for each kg of plastic.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.056 lbs CO2e per utensil  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

Buy no products with single use packaging

Most product packaging – especially plastic packaging – is non-recyclable. Taking action to eliminate your consumption of one-time use synthetic packaging is especially important since the equivalent of 1 garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans each minute. Scientists estimate that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish. Calculation Note: To get the numbers below, we used the assumption that 6 kgs of CO2e is created for each kg of plastic.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.056 lbs CO2e per utensil  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

Use compostable garbage and dog poop bags

Plastic is a major contributor to waste and carbon emissions. Opting for compostable, biodegradable trash bags eliminates a lot of landfill waste, and emissions. Taking action to eliminate your plastic use is especially important since the equivalent of 1 garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans each minute. Scientists estimate that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish. You can find a number of biodegradable poop bag products on Amazon. Please note that, in order for these bags to be effective, you must compost them (not put them in the garbage). Calculation Note: To get the numbers below, we used the assumption that 6 kgs of CO2e is created for each kg of plastic.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.056 lbs CO2e per bag  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

Ask for no straw in your drink, and #stopsucking

Many of the products we use are not only harmful to the environment, but toxic (and often carcinogenic) to us. Not using straws helps reduce the number of plastic straws cluttering our oceans, and harming our wildlife. An estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs. When they ingest plastic, marine life has a 50% mortality rate. So, ask for no straw in your drink today and spread the word to #stopsucking. Alternatively, you can find compostable or reusable stainless steel straws online and in a number of retail stores. Calculation Note: To get the numbers below, we used the assumption that 6 kgs of CO2e is created for each kg of plastic.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.01825 lbs CO2e per bag  |  Potential Cost Savings: NA

Make your own personal care and cleaning products

Many household cleaning products, and – unfortunately – personal care products contain a number of harmful toxins. Most also utilize plastic packaging. Taking action to eliminate your plastic use is especially important since the equivalent of 1 garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans each minute. Scientists estimate that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish.

Potential Emissions Reductions: -0.07 lbs CO2e per product  |  Potential Cost Savings: $5 per product (estimated)