The ice caps are melting. The air is becoming more polluted each day. Landfills are expanding at alarming rates.

Each person’s day-to-day activities and actions either contribute to the problem or help solve it. If you are ready to become part of the solution, try starting at home. Even if you rent an apartment or a house, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of waste your household produces. If you’re really dedicated to the cause, you can even shoot for becoming a zero-waste renter.

Keep reading for some tips on how you can help solve the pollution problem.

Purchase food in bulk

Carryout containers and packaged foods are a huge source of nonrecyclable, plastic waste. Think about it. How many K-cups, chip bags, cereal bags, and energy bar wrappers do you throw out each week? Each of these wrappings is made of mixed plastics that have to be sent to the landfill.

Consider cooking at home and eating more fresh foods. When you select fresh vegetables, fruits, and bulk food items instead of smaller packages, it will reduce your exposure to processed sugar, artificial dyes, salts, and preservatives, all while eliminating a large amount of waste from your home.

If your apartment is too small to even think about buying in bulk it’s time to clear some space. You can get creative with storage, such as extra space in the linen closet, or purchase shelves to put in the garage. As long as the items are non-perishable, they will be fine out there for a limited amount of time.

Eliminate the use of paper towels

If you’re like most people, you grab a paper towel (or 15) to wipe up a spill or grab a gross bug that has crawled into your home. While it may not seem like that much waste at the time, this really adds up. In fact, the average American uses more than 45 pounds of paper towels each year.

Consider swapping out these paper towels for reusable dish towels. You can find options that function just like a paper towel but are up to 20 times more durable and can last for up to a year.

You can also reduce the number of items you have to store in your cabinets or on your counter in your apartment. This makes more room for your bulk food items.

Minimize available space for junk

Consider reducing the amount of furniture in your home. By doing this, you can get rid of various horizontal surfaces that collect junk and dust. After, all, the more collectibles and furniture you have in your home, the more surfaces there are to clean (but hopefully not with paper towels).

This is not only beneficial for reducing your waste, but also maximizing the space in your apartment. If you have less furniture, then you will have more open space, which can make your entire apartment or rental home feel bigger.

Stop using snack bags and plastic wrap

In your quest to be zero-waste, consider avoiding using any type of plastic, in any form, whenever possible. There are some areas around the country where there are special recycling programs in place for cling wrap, plastic bags and other similar items that can not be put with other plastic recyclable items. However, of all the recyclable materials in existence today, plastic has the lowest chance of actually being recycled compared to paper or glass.

However, you obviously will still want to wrap up and save food. There are a wide array of alternatives, including wraps made of jojoba oil, beeswax and organic cotton. Not only are they natural, but they can also be reused. You can use these materials the same way plastic wrap is used, making it an eco-friendly and waste-free alternative.

Get rid of your plastic toothbrush

Did you know that more than 850 million toothbrushes are thrown out and sent to the landfill every single year? Since they are made of a mix of materials, such as nylon, rubber, and plastic, there’s no way to recycle them because they won’t biodegrade. While there are some special programs for recycling toothbrushes, such as TerraCycle, only about one in every 20 people use them.

A smarter, more sustainable option is to use bamboo toothbrushes. These are all plant-based – from the outside in. The bristles are crafted from castor bean oil and the handle, box, and wrapper are either biodegradable or compost friendly. Also, the handles of these brushes are sourced from sustainable, wide grown bamboo – which is the fastest growing plant in the world.

Reduce the amount of gas you use

If you live in a rental house or apartment you likely want to save money, but still have to go places. However, if you live in a larger area, you don’t have to rely on your personal vehicle all the time. Consider using a car-sharing service or the bus. This will help to reduce the amount of gas you are using and the impact it has on the environment.

The bottom line is that there are all sorts of alternative products available to purchase today. You can easily reduce the amount of waste that you (and your rental) produce by investing in these items and finding new ways to reduce the garbage sent to landfills.