Ever get takeout and think to yourself, "What happened to those simple paper cartons I used to get my Chinese food in?" These days, it seems our takeout bags are chock full of fancy containers that collect in our cabinets, or worse yet - in our garbages. Here are some ideas for reducing packaging waste, from your coffee cup to your shampoo bottle.
Use reusable shopping bags. Leave a reusable bag by the door to grab on your way out, or keep a lightweight one that folds up small on you for impromptu stops at the grocery store. Jessica Alba chooses the cute compact ones from RuMe. If you do forget yours, let clerks know that they don't need to double bag (and don't be afraid to question their packaging choices).
Use a reusable water bottle. Instead of buying a new one every time you're headed out or to the gym, save money and reduce waste by investing in a refillable steel bottle. I like the Klean Kanteen ones that you can buy at Whole Foods.
Travel with your own mug. Keep a mug at your office for coffee or tea. Meeting a friend for a cup of joe? Why not bring your own mug?
When ordering takeout:
-Let the restaurant know that you don't need extra plastic utensils, napkins or other unnecessary items.
-Don't order from places that use Styrofoam containers (if you need to eat there, visit the restaurant instead).
-Reuse plastic containers a few times (repeat use for too long can be harmful) and then make sure to recycle them.
When visiting a restaurant: If you think you'll be taking home leftovers from a restaurant, bring your own container.
Wash and reuse empty containers. Jars, milk jugs and cans are great for storing things in the garage, or even for style (pop some fresh flowers in an old jar). I love This Old House's Ideas for reusing common household items, from coffee filters to aluminum foil.
Use cloth dishtowels and napkins instead of paper ones.
Buy bulk. For items that you use frequently (like soap, shampoo and pet food), consider buying economy-sized items.
Do you have other ideas for reducing packaging waste? Share them below.