Have you ever thought about just how much trash you create in a single day? Most people don’t generally pay much attention when they toss something in the trash – it’s just a normal part of every day life. You might not think about the 30% of energy you lose through old windows. However, not all families have such a carefree attitude when it comes to throwing things away. Some have even adopted a zero-waste lifestyle, meaning nothing they use ends up in a landfill, instead either being recycled, composted, or donated. If you consider yourself more eco-friendly and are looking for a few ways to cut down on your own waste creation, use some of these tips to help you get started.

Go Paperless

If you work from home or have kids who need to print up papers for school, you might be shocked to learn just how much paper you use when printing over the course of a year. The average office worker prints 10,000 pages per year, at an average cost of $725, and if you work from home, you probably print roughly around that many pages on your own printer. However, a large percentage of this doesn’t need to be printed in the first place – according to StopWaste.org, 17% of everything printed is considered waste. Next time you go to print up a document, consider whether it could be emailed instead. Technology and the internet mean you don’t have to print all of the documents you need to share with others, so try using email instead when you get the chance.

Paper Or Plastic? Neither

While plenty of people have started using reusable fabric grocery bags, not all families have yet. Plastic bags do offer a degree of convenience – you don’t have to worry about forgetting your bags at home. However, their impact on the environment is far more significant than a forgotten fabric grocery bag. Every year, one trillion plastic bags – single use – are used, equating to 2 million per minute. Most of these bags are not recycled, instead ending up in landfills or, worse, as litter and pollution. Cut down on how many plastic bags you end up throwing away by switching to reusable alternatives for your next shopping trip.

Downsize And Minimize

Even if you have a fairly minimalist design throughout your home, you likely are holding on to more junk than you realize. The average American home has 300,000 items in it. Many of these items are disposable or single-use items that, while convenient, increase the amount you throw away on a daily basis. Not only do disposable items increase your overall waste creation, they also mean you’re regularly replacing them by buying new disposable items. Switch from things like disposable plasticware to reusable silverware when you can, and look for reusable alternatives for commonly seen disposable items. Consider downsizing your vehicle while you’re at it. A fully equipped truck can weigh up to 15 times as much as a small car, which means you could be wasting fuel.

Use What You Eat (And What You Don’t)

Surely one area where you can’t reduce your waste creation is cooking and eating, right? Not entirely. Many zero-waste families opt to compost their food waste, rather than throwing it away. Composting might not be the right solution for everyone, since not all food scraps can be composted. However, even city-dwellers can participate in community composting programs and make use of smaller kitchen compost bins. If you cook often and prefer eating whole, natural foods, consider researching community composting programs near you, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, try setting up a compost bin in your own backyard.

While any one of these methods can be effective in reducing how much you throw away on a regular basis, combining them can lead to a lower-waste, greener lifestyle. If you’re searching for motivation, think of the 100,000 black bears that live in Alaska. Animals like these rely on the natural world. Producing less waste could help. Which of these methods would you be willing to try with your family to cut down on how much you throw away?