10 ways you can reduce your waste TODAY

So you went to the Climate Rally—now what? I've been wondering what I can do to shrink my environmental footprint, and realize it's not as hard as it sounds. Even the little things help.

Photo: Magda Ehlers

1. Empty your hairbrush into the compost

For all my fellow long-haired people, this tip is an easy way to feel like you’re making a big difference. I probably empty a handful of hair from my brush into the trash once a day. Once I learned that I should actually be putting the hair in the compost, I made the easy switch and haven’t looked back since.


2. Put a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on your mailbox

My roommates and I are always getting flyers from Domino’s shoved through our door. None of us ever look at the promotions, and they either get recycled or shoved in the back of the kitchen junk drawer. Not only will refusing junk mail help reduce your waste, it will also keep your house neat and tidy.


3. Use your freezer

Produce looking a little dingy? Throw it in the freezer before it starts to rot. I do this all the time with fruit and especially bread! I can never finish a loaf of bread before it goes bad, so this is a crucial hack for me. Making your food last longer means reducing waste, avoiding hunger, and saving money.


4. Ditch the paper towel

If you’re like me and are cursed to spill EVERYTHING you eat on yourself, you probably have some stained clothes that need repurposing. Cut up your old shirts, towels, and sheets into custom-sized rags that you can use to clean up any spills that may or may not occur. 


5. Bring your own everything

If you have a fork, knife, spoon, cup, container, straw, or any other reusable tool on hand...pack it with you! Create a portable “Low-Waste Kit” with all the essentials that you already own and bring it in your backpack. Then, when you’re out and about, you can literally skip the (single-use) dishes. 


6. Get a library card

Getting a library card is free, quick, and easy. Between Dal’s libraries and the public library, you’ll never have to buy a new book again. Another money-saving, waste-reducing double whammy!


7. Shop at the DSU market

Buying local produce is sustainable, accessible, and affordable with the weekly DSU Market on the Halifax campus! Conveniently set up in the SUB, it offers seasonal produce year-round. One time, I bought kale, blueberries, apples, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes for about $12. Beat that, Superstore!


8. Print double-sided

My printer almost always does this for me by accident because I don’t know how to change it, but double-sided printing makes for far less paper waste. I’ve had some profs who prefer single-sided documents, so my advice is to talk to your prof and advocate for your double-sided rights.


9. Use what you’ve got

How many lip balms have you completely finished before going out to get a new one? Probably not enough. I buy new items before getting full use out of old ones. All. The. Time. Lately, I’ve been trying to be conscious of the lifespan of items I already own: partially-used notebooks, pens, makeup, clothes. Using up what you already have, fixing what’s broken, and donating items are fantastic alternatives to throwing things away or buying new.


10. Borrow before you buy

Whatever happened to knocking on your neighbour’s door for a cup of flour? I say, let’s bring back that notion. Whether you’re missing an ingredient for a new recipe or you need to use a vacuum, consider asking your friends and neighbours before hitting the store. (And be sure to share your things with them in return.)