Waste is an inevitable byproduct of modern society. Every day, families across the country use and rely on energy, food, water, and other materials. For many, these items are readily available and used in excess. Often, this results in waste that is costly and can negatively impact the environment. Fortunately, there are things that people can do to reduce waste and be more eco-friendly at home.

Around the home, people use water for a host of things, such as watering the lawn or showering. As a result, excess water is frequently wasted down the drain or as run-off. Fortunately, this also creates many opportunities to adjust, conserve, and save gallons of water annually. According to the EPA, leaks in the average home can lead to a loss of 10,000 gallons or more on an annual basis. Nationwide, this waste can add up to one trillion gallons a year. For this reason, one of the smartest ways to conserve water is to check for leaks around the house. Things that commonly leak include shower heads, toilet flappers, and faucets. Being mindful of how long water is running is also critical to conserving water. Following simple and sensible steps, such as not letting the water run more than necessary, can prove highly effective in reducing water waste. For example, people should only use the dish or clothes washers if there are full loads in need of cleaning. Turning off faucets while brushing one's teeth can save up to four gallons of water, and showers should be no more than five minutes long using low-flow shower heads. Outdoors, take advantage of the early morning or the evening hours to water the lawn more efficiently and reduce evaporation.

Being cognizant of energy use not only helps the environment but also reduces the amount of money that people spend. When purchasing new appliances or electronics, people can save money by buying items that have the Energy Star label, as these goods use between 10 and 50 percent less energy. Making home improvements also helps reduce energy consumption. People should regularly inspect and maintain the heating and cooling systems in their homes and clean or replace dirty filters. Add insulation if necessary, and check for drafts. Setting programmable thermostats for the season is also crucial for energy conservation. During the winter months, program thermostats to 68 degrees Fahrenheit when people are at home during the daytime hours, and lower it at night or when the house is empty. Program thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer when the house is occupied, but set it higher when no one is home.

Leftover food is often thrown into the trash, but people can use leftover food in a way that benefits the environment. Scraps of leftover food may be used to create compost, which is a natural way to enrich the soil when gardening. Items such as vegetables, fruits, eggshells, and bread are some of the leftover foods that may be used to create compost. Additionally, unbleached paper, newspapers, and coffee filters may also be used for compost as opposed to being thrown into the trash.

Reducing and reusing are two popular methods of combating waste. People may reduce and reuse by purchasing used items instead of new, buying items that are reusable, and buying things that have minimal packaging. Repurposing items is yet another way to reduce waste by giving them new life and purpose, preventing them from ending up in landfills. Donations reduce waste by giving unwanted or unneeded items to charities or other organizations. Recycling is another way to turn items into new products. Aluminum and steel cans, plastic, glass, and paper are all materials that are recyclable. People can check with their local waste management agency, many of which offer ways to separate recyclables from other forms of trash. Other items, such as electronics, may also be taken to recycling centers.

Conserve Water

Conserve Energy

Reuse and Recycle

Yard Composting