7 Ways for Family Caregivers to Reduce Waste and Live More Sustainably

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Tue Apr 19 2022.

Senior couple making a healthy dinner, sustainability, eco friendly

April 22nd is Earth Day, a celebration of the environmental movement that raises awareness about pollution and other related causes. With extreme weather events, like drought and wildfires becoming increasingly common, many Americans are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints and live more sustainably.

If you're a family caregiver who's environmentally conscious, this article's for you. In it, we discuss 7 ways to reduce waste and live more sustainably. From upgrading inefficient appliances and making simple home improvements to recycling and eating more sustainably, options abound. Keep reading to learn more!

Audit your energy use

The average American emits 19 tons (or about 41,876 pounds) of greenhouse gases each year, according to CrowdSourcingSustainability.org. That's equivalent to the weight of the Statue of Liberty!

One of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases is emissions from heating, cooling, and powering homes. If you're tired of seeing your energy bill increase month after month, consider investing in a professional home energy assessment. A room-by-room audit of your home by a qualified professional can alert you to inefficiencies and help you prioritize repairs.

Make simple home improvements

After a professional home energy assessment, you're provided a list of recommendations that can improve the energy efficiency of your home. Recommendations vary, but there are several common repairs that can make a big difference.

John Linden, an interior designer atMirrorCoop Design in Los Angeles, California, suggests focusing on three areas, in particular:

  • Use LED light bulbs. "LED light bulbs use less energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs," said Linden. "They are a great way to reduce your energy consumption.

  • Install low-flow showerheads. "Low-flow showerheads use less water, which can save money on your water bill and help you conserve," Linden said.

  • Replace old appliances. Old appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and stoves are synonymous with waste. That's why it's recommended you upgrade to appliances with an ENERGY STAR rating. The average household with Energy Star-rated appliances saves about $450 per year.

room-by-room audit of your home by a qualified professional can alert you to inefficiencies and help you prioritize repairs.

Recycle

Did you know that only 35% of Americans recycle? Even if your city doesn't provide recycling pickup, there are things you can do at home to reduce waste. EarthDay.org recommends:

  • Bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store

  • Emptying, cleaning, and drying all recyclable items before throwing them in the bin

  • Only buying recyclable items (take the time to read the packaging)

  • Checking your city's website to determine the type of recyclable items they accept

  • Reusing cardboard boxes for crafts, storage, or other projects

  • Repurposing empty glass jars for storage

Eat sustainably

The foods that you and your family eat have a significant impact on the environment. Maria Shriver, an Emmy award-winning journalist, seven-time New York Times bestselling author, and co-founder and CEO of MOSH, is on a mission to educate consumers about how what they eat and drink impacts their health.

"Sustainable eating is about choosing foods that are healthful not only to our bodies but also to the environment," said Shriver. "You can begin eating sustainably by selecting seasonal foods and shopping locally. Buying local food in season decreases the transportation required to get the food from farm to table, reducing the amount of emissions and pollution in our air."

She continued, "fresh foods have little or no protective packaging, so there is less plastic that ends up in the landfills in our communities. And because eating fresh foods shortens the journey from producer to consumer, it has a smaller chance of getting damaged during transport and going to waste."

Buy in bulk

When you run out of dish soap or laundry detergent, do you throw the bottle away? If so, consider using the bulk section instead. Dr. Erica Dodds, COO of the Foundation for Climate Restoration, and a sustainability and climate change expert refers to this practice as 'Fill 'er Up.'

"Whenever you run out of a household item, like shampoo, soap, or detergent, go to the grocery store and fill it up," said Dodds. Often, there's a section for dried goods, too, like nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.

Make a Homemade Meal

After a long day at the office, cooking a meal can seem like a lot of work, but it's one of the easiest ways to prevent food from going to waste. "Don't toss fresh veggies or other food," said Dodds. "If it's about to go bad, whip up something delicious and do your part to stop waste." She added, "if you have lots of random vegetables, throw them into a stirfry or a soup."

Ditch Paper Waste

As a family caregiver, it's your job to research your loved one's medical condition(s) and stay informed of their care. Instead of making copies of everything, only print documents when it's absolutely necessary. You can supplement physical paperwork by keeping comprehensive digital files. If you aren't computer savvy, there are various smartphone apps that can assist, including CareZone, AARP Caregiving, and CaringBridge.

These are just a few of the ways you can reduce waste at home and live more sustainably. If you have any other tips, tricks, or recommendations, we'd love to hear from you. Please visit our Facebook page, and share your thoughts. Happy Earth Day from all of us at Carewell, and thanks for making an effort to go green.

Did you find this article helpful? Share it, print it or have it mailed to you!
Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.