blog: Can we reduce junk in our homes? |

blog: Can we reduce junk in our homes?

Pallavi Mukerjee
Vail CO, Colorado

“Charity begins at home.” We have talked about ‘source reduction’ i.e. consuming less and throwing away less. What can ‘WE AS A COMMUNITY’ do to reduce waste at home? For starters, we can try to encourage some basic waste saving habits.

Here are some suggestions of waste saving (reduction) habits that will help to reduce the quantity of waste at home. These are a few simple and basic ideas, there maybe a lot more out there, and I would welcome additional suggestions and ideas from the readers.


Buy the largest size package and products that do more than one thing”for example, shampoos that include conditioners.

Buy concentrated products. This means you will need to use less of it for your task.

Buy products that come in bulk forms or products that use minimal packaging. You will be using fewer natural resources, and you’ll have less to throw away.

Try to re-use, repair, recycle, or compost products that would otherwise be thrown away.


Buy reusable products such as rechargeable batteries.

Pass on magazines, catalogues, and books to neighbors, hospitals, schools, and nursing homes.

Reuse plastic or glass containers for food storage, nails, and so on.

Reuse plastic shopping bags, boxes, and lumber.


Try to repair before you consider replacement of lawn mowers, tools, vacuum cleaners, and TVs.

Donate items you can’t repair to local charities or vocational schools.

Keep appliances in good working order. Properly maintained appliances are less likely to wear out or break and will not have to be replaced as frequently.


Shop for items that are recyclable or are made from recycled materials.

Recycle newspapers, plastics, glass, and cans.

If a recycling program does not exist in your community, contact community officials to see if it would make sense to start one.


Compost yard and kitchen waste. Compost makes an excellent fertilizer and improves the soil.

Leave grass clippings on the ground instead of bagging them. Grass clipping decompose quickly, adding nutrients to the soil.

If there’s no room for compost pile, offer compostable materials to community composting programs or garden projects near you.

This is a really interesting and funny website which talks about different ways we can save energy and electricity and reduce, recycle, and reuse things during the holiday season. It is called ’42 ways to trim your holiday waistline’.

Many biodegradable plastics are made from plant sources, particularly corn, wheat and potatoes. Bioplastics are biodegradable; they are also made from renewable resources thus reducing pressure on finite petrochemical supplies.

Some existing packaging options can be made biodegradable. EPI Environmental Plastics Inc. in Canada have developed TDPA (Totally Degradable Plastic Additive), which when added to the packaging allows it to retain its physical characteristics until it is in the right environment to degrade – oxygen, moisture, naturally occurring organisms, plus, sunlight, heat or mechanical stress. In this environment it then breaks down leaving only carbon dioxide, water and a small amount of original material. This presents a cheaper option than bioplastics, but although it has FDA approval, its’ long-term safety has not been tested.

Again, I would welcome any suggestions or comments on how to reduce the quantity of waste at home. As a community, if we encourage waste reduction habits, we can make a healing impact on the environment, our waterways and the wildlife around us.

Next week, we will discuss the concept of recycling …

Pallavi Mukerjee can be reached at

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