"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"
Many of us grew up with this slogan. To say it hasn't shaped how I live my life would be a lie.
When we moved from the condo, I ended up recycling at least 15 old jars and bottles I had collected through the years. You never know when you need an empty jar.
When I eat out, I often bring my own container for leftovers so I don't need to waste a non-reuseable foam container.
I hate wasting food the most.
I lick my plates clean, almost literally. You don't know how many times I have told "over anxious" servers that I'm not done my meal.
"I'm still picking at the last pieces of rice... come back later".
My fridge almost sees perfect turnover every week with only long lasting sauces, drinks and condiments surviving past Friday.
This is easier than it sounds. Just buy exactly what you're going to eat that week. Don't be tempted to buy more than you can eat. You've probably been eating for a lot of years, you should know how much you can fit in your belly. And it's easy to adjust your grocery list if you have a planned lunch or night out during the week.
Why spend the extra on buying food that's just going to go to waste. It adds to greenhouse gases and wastes money. There is nothing good about it.
Downsize Your Garbage Bin
When we lived in the condo we had a garbage chute. It was right outside our condo door. Most people would see this as a negative, but when you have it you will realize it's the most convenient thing and worth the occasional sound of other people throwing out their garbage.
You see, my wife and I are clean freaks. Having a place outside our condo to put our waste was the best. We didn't even need to put on pants sometimes since we literally only had to take two steps. (Thankfully we never ran into anyone)
Now that we live in a house, things are a little different. Not only do we have to put on pants, but we have to layer since its -15 C outside now, with a good heap of snow covering the ground.
Anyways I digress.
Toronto has a graduated garbage bin system. The bigger your bin the more you pay for garbage collection every year.
The previous owner had the medium bin and was paying $139.32 per year for garbage collection.
After living in this house for a month, I've realized we don't produce very much garbage. We produce one regular plastic bag of garbage every two weeks. So having such a big bin didn't seem to make sense.
We finally received our new small bin today. It's smaller than I expected, but I still don't think we will fill it.
The savings are pretty sweet. Instead of $139.32 a year, we will now be paying just $22.66 for our garbage collection. $116 that would have gone to waste.
Life is slightly more efficient now.
If you live in Toronto, you can go to https://www.toronto.ca/home/311-toronto-at-your-service/bins/ to exchange your garbage bin for a smaller size.
If you are interested in seeing the extreme of zero waste, check out this video. This is something to strive for but even just reducing your waste as much as you can is a good start.
Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.