Bad news – we’re trashing our home, Earth. We’ve been dumping twice as much trash as was first estimated by the EPA.  This year was the hottest year on record, which makes it urgent to note our own contributions to climate change. What we throw away, how, and when, matters.

It may seem like a small thing not to recycle one plastic water bottle, but is it? The trash we all send to U.S. landfills has made them the largest human-caused emitters of greenhouse gases. If this is a sign to stop the flow of trash from your hands to the landfills, ask yourself these questions.

What Do You Need?

If you buy fewer things, you’ll throw away less. Consider a 30-day spending cleanse to reveal what you’re buying that you really don’t need. You’ll save money, too.

Consider what you’re buying: single serving bags of chips and beverages may make packing a lunch easier, but they make a lot more trash too – same goes for that cup of coffee you buy every day. Think how many fewer disposable cups would wind up in a landfill if everybody brought their own reusable mug.

Imagine what an impact you’ll make if you bring your own bag when you go shopping. California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags, and other states and cities have similar laws. Another idea – mesh produce bags can be saved and reused to hold produce you buy in the future (just be prepared for a confused cashier).

Can You Imagine A Second Life?

Instead of buying cheap fast fashion clothes that fall apart after one season, buy fewer clothes of better quality. When you don’t want them anymore, you’ll be able to sell them to a consignment shop for money or store credit. One person’s trash is another one’s treasure, as the saying goes.

Before you buy – borrow or buy gently used items. Tools, toys, maternity, and baby items fall under this category in spades. Many online sites, like Swap.com, can help you find what you need and save you money, or you can connect with your local community, for events where people resell their items seasonally.

Can You Practice Mindfulness? 

It’s easy to toss a beverage bottle in the trash, because it’s too inconvenient to find a recycling bin, but ask yourself: do I care more about my own convenience, or could I make a difference? Take a moment to consider your action, which is a way to practice mindfulness. You might reduce your trash production in that moment, and your awareness will help improve the big picture for all of us.