Getting Wise(r) About Waste


Story Updated: Jan 4, 2012

Green Goes Simple: Family Footprints

Getting Wise(r) About Waste

By Amy Levin-Epstein for Green Goes Simple

You already know to carry around a reusable tote. They’re not only better for the earth, but also cuter to carry! But there are so many other small changes that can make a big difference in the amount of waste we create. Here, green lifestyle expert Sara Snow, author of Sara Snow’s Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home, shares her five best tips for adhering to the adage “Waste not, want not.”

Use Reusable Pouches

Plastic baggies are super-convenient -- and super-wasteful. But cute reusable baggies (such as Posh Pouches) are the equivalent of lunch bags for your leftovers. You buy them once and use them over and over.

“These are fully lined in a BPA-, lead- and phthalate-free lining that allows you to wash out PB&J spills, with a strong Velcro closure that will keep even the crumbliest cookies in place,” says Snow. “Use them for snacks, lunches -- even makeup and art or craft supplies.”

Buy in Bulk

Plastic, metal and paper packaging is a huge contributor to household waste. “Instead of buying another box of cereal, simply fill a reusable bag with the cereal of your choice from a bulk bin and slip that back into the original box,” suggests Snow. “You can do the same for pasta, beans, rice, crackers, dried fruit, nuts, olive oil, vinegar and many other items.” Bonus: You’ll likely spend less money in the process!

Recharge Your Batteries

Nope, we’re not talking about a day at the spa. Bottom line? Stop buying disposable batteries. “Batteries are a tricky little trash number because they’re tough to recycle and not supposed to be tossed with your regular trash,” says Snow. “A simple way to solve the dilemma is to invest in reusable, rechargeable batteries.”

Go E for Everything

Paper bills, bank statements, greeting cards, business cards, magazines, newspapers, letters -- oh my! If it seems like you’re perpetually recycling or throwing out paper, go paper-free, suggests Snow. With computers -- and maybe tablets or smartphones -- at your fingertips, sending your paperwork through cyberspace has never been easier or safer.

Share Your Treasure

Ever heard the expression, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Make sure you’re sharing the wealth. “The next time you clean out your basement or attic, think twice before you declare something garbage; it takes just a little effort to drop those bags at Goodwill instead of in your garbage can,” says Snow. “If you live in a neighborhood, try leaving it at the end of your driveway for a day or two. Most things will disappear overnight, off to a good home where someone has the skills and time to fix that broken wheel, mend the tear or replace the electronics.”

Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who’s been published in magazines like Glamour, Self and Prevention, on websites like AOL, Babble and and in newspapers like the New York Post and the Boston Globe. You can read more of her writing at Her articles have previously appeared on Green Goes Simple.

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