33 Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Home
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a substantial push towards renewable energy and recycling. The idea is to reduce CO emissions and avoid damage to the environment – a noble cause.
People have taken to keeping and/or reusing certain things (i.e. plastic bottles, aluminum cans, etc.) and preventing the accumulation of waste. This is something that is particularly great for reducing waste at home.
With that in mind, let’s look at ways to reduce waste at home.
Why Should I Reduce My Waste?
Landfills emit greenhouse gasses, poison groundwater, and contaminate the surrounding soil. There are countless statistics about plastic in the ocean and how it’s destroying wildlife.
We’re constantly reminded that we’re running out of vital resources, but we keep producing at larger and larger rates. But the most important reason: it’s better for you.
You’ll be saving money, you’ll be learning new skills, you’ll know exactly what’s going into your body, and as a bonus – you don’t have to take the trash out as often.
People who focus on experiences rather than things live happier, more fulfilled lives.
You’ll eat healthier, you’ll be happier, and you can pat yourself on the back for helping out the sea turtles.
Reduce, Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycle, Refuse
Reduce means that you buy products with less packaging.
For example, instead of buying the boxed cereal with the plastic liner, you buy the prepacked cereal that is only in the plastic bag.
It can also be not putting your produce in a plastic produce bag at the store. Easy enough, right?
Some ways to maximize on this are carrying your own produce bags with you. (get them here from my affiliate partner).
Buying produce without packaging at all, and allowing your bananas and broccoli to sit together in your cloth shopping bag works just as well.
They won’t fight, I promise. Another way to reduce is to rethink “wants vs. needs”.
Reuse means that if you have plastic shopping bags, you take them to the store with you a second time, or using them as trash bags.
Washing that plastic disposable flatware from the party to use at the next party, instead of buying another box.
I also like to call storing your leftovers in a old yogurt container, or making milk jugs into scoops or mini greenhouses for your garden reusing, although others would consider this re-purposing.
This also would be if you bought a bottle of soy sauce and when it was empty, added your own homemade soy sauce to it.
Another great way to reuse is to check out garage sales or thrift stores for an item vs. buying it new.
When you don’t buy something new, an “order” isn’t placed for another one. Clothing is a great example of this.
Re-Purposing can be about the same as reusing.
You are making the plastic milk jug into a mini-green house, making those plastic shopping bags into a carry-all, or using kcups from your keurig as seed starters.
Also, re purposing would be if you turned an old dresser into an entertainment stand or kitchen island.
The easiest way to re purpose something is to think outside the box.
Yogurt containers? Great for storing hair ties or barrettes. Ketchup or mustard bottles are a lot of fun in the bathtub as toys.
When my kids were younger, I would take carefully washed out bottles and jugs and that was what they used to play “store” with.
This one is fairly self explanatory, as it usually refers to paper, cardboard and many plastics either being picked up or being taken down to a center for breakdown and being rebuilt into something else.
This is the hardest one for many to get started on, really.
You usually have to separate the paper from the cardboard, clear glass from colored glass and try and remember what plastics can be recycled.
Setting up recycling in your home CAN be done, and once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to do.
For a list of most commonly recycled items, check with your garbage service, or refer to this list.
Wait, didn’t I say there would be FIVE items?? Well, a lot of people don’t realize there should be a 5th “R”. and that is REFUSE.
Who knew, right? Refuse to buy new clothing, shop at thrift or consignment stores.
Refuse to use plastic anything, and only purchase things in bulk bins and bring your own glass mason jars.
Refuse those plastic grocery shopping bags, and bring your own.
You can attach some to your purse or belt loop to help you remember them always.
Eco bags sells some cute chico bags here. Refuse to buy plastic flatware and paper plates for entertaining, and just wash dishes when you are done.
Refuse to use paper napkins, and use cloth instead. Refuse to buy prepacked foods and learn to make your own (see my post on 5 things to stop buying and start making here)
The best way to get started with this is to find some mason jars at a thrift store, and weigh them at the customer service counter when you get to the store.
Write the tare weight down on a piece of masking tape with a sharpie so that you can remember to take that off when you checking out.
You may come across a confused cashier at first, so be patient.
The best things to buy in bulk bins that I have found are oats, granola, rice, beans, and some stores sell loose tea and spices in bulk.
33 Tips To Reduce Waste
1) First In, First Out
This is essentially stock rotation. You move all the older stuff to the front and the newer stuff to the back of the shelves or fridge.
This means you use the older stuff before it expires thereby avoiding having wasted food in your kitchen.
2) Switch to Paperless Billing
Switching from paper billing to electronic billing means you don’t have bits of scrap paper lying all over the place and your billing is better organized.
Set it up so that it goes through to your emails and just mark each one off as you pay them.
3) Reuse Old Toothbrushes
If you’ve got a lot of old toothbrushes lying around, keep them for cleaning jobs around the house.
Apart from reusing the plastic toothbrushes you have, you can also switch to a compostable / bio-degradable toothbrush to prevent waste around your home and the environment.
4) Purchase Second-hand Clothing
Buying second-hand clothing reduces textile waste – especially for children’s clothing. If that’s something that you struggle with, then this is a good way to reduce waste at home.
I know many people who used to buy second-hand clothes as a budget-friendly option when they need to buy clothes.
5) Use a Questionable Bin
If you have things that you’re not sure about, it’s best to keep them separate from the other recyclables.
This makes it easier to dispose of things properly and you can chuck everything together to be dealt with at a later time.
6) Sustainable Takeout
We all like to treat ourselves to a burger and fries every now and then, but there’s always a chance you’ll end up with containers you can’t recycle.
With that in mind, look into supporting places with bio-degradable / compostable containers.
7) Use a Travel Mug
Using a travel mug (either a steel or ceramic mug) will reduce the number of non-bio-degradable cups you end up using every day.
You also don’t have to worry about getting any weird, nasty chemicals in your body.
8) Yard Sales and Buy and Sell Groups
Another good way to reduce waste at home is to get rid of the stuff you don’t need anymore.
Some of these things can be sold at yard sales or in certain groups and can give you a nifty little side income.
9) No More Puree Baggies
The little puree / baby food sachets may be convenient, but sadly they aren’t recyclable, so you’re going to end up with a lot of these in your trash.
You can avoid this by sticking with soft, flavorful fruits like bananas.
10) Mending Damaged Clothing
There’s a lot of recycling going on in this list but, if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
Why would you spend money on something you don’t necessarily need when you’ve got the resources to improvise?
Instead of buying brand new jeans (which is becoming pricier every year), just grab a needle and thread and stitch the tear closed.
11) Use All of the Veggies / Produce
How many of us use a whole potato or cucumber – skin and all – in a meal?
Most of the time, we’ll remove the peel / skin, and throw it away. This is a waste as that’s where you find an awful lot of fiber and nutrients.
In fact, the peel is where the bulk of those nutrients are found. So, the bottom line is use everything when it comes to fruit and veg as much as possible.
12) Do a REGULAR Stock Take
What is a stock take? It’s exactly what it sounds like; you look at what you have and in what quantities.
This allows you to move things around so that you use the older stuff before you use the new stuff. It also allows you to dispose of anything that needs to be thrown away.
A stock take is one of, if not your absolute best friends because being able to organize what you have and throw away anything that needs to be thrown away prevents any potential health problems.
This is something my maternal grandmother learned the hard way.
She used to buy food, pack it away and forget about it for months; this led to an incident involving tacos that had expired some 4 years previously – yuck.
Bad food equals food poisoning which equals, in some cases, a hospital trip…something to keep in mind, no?
13) Lunch Box
If you need to grab lunch while on the go, and you don’t want to end up using the disposable cutlery and non-recyclable containers from the restaurant, pack a lunch box – complete with cutlery.
It’s a simple solution that many people don’t really think about, but it works.
14) Bulk Purchases
How many of you lovely readers remember the stores running out of practically everything when the pandemic started?
Every now and then, toilet paper became a rare item on store shelves and later the subject to numerous jokes and memes – whenever people start to panic as a result of a large-scale disaster.
How much money do you think the people who made those bulk purchases saved on toilet paper and everything else they panic-bought?
Buying supplies in bulk reduces the amount of excess packaging in your home and the number of trips you have to make to get them. As an added bonus, you can save quite a chunk on necessities.
15) Avoid Useless Purchases
Something that I’ve noticed recently is that our local newspaper is mostly junk mail nowadays.
You can put up markers to prevent people from loading your mailbox with rubbish – this applies to your emails too.
How many subscriptions send newsletters and promos through to your inbox every week?
Impulsive buying can lead to unnecessary clutter which is just irritating, and you don’t want to deal with that at all.
16) Use Reusable Shopping Bags
Have you noticed how the quality of plastic shopping bags has decreased?
We used to collect the plastic bags and reuse them as often as possible but, unfortunately, they’ve gotten progressively weaker over the last few years.
This has made reusable canvas shopping bags very popular. They’re easy to store, and you don’t end up adding more plastic to the local landfills.
17) Clear Your Plate at Dinner
“No dessert if you don’t eat your greens!”
How many of us grew up hearing this?
I know I heard it many times as a kid; my grandparents were particularly stern about this because they hated seeing good food go to waste.
Wasting food is just…pointless and even as a kid I couldn’t understand it. Of course, it helped that most, if not all the food was good, and we all learned to cook at an early age.
18) Use Reusable Cloths / Rags for Cleaning
No more sheets of paper towels, tissues, and napkins in the trash!
Using washcloths and rags (you can even use old, raggedy t-shirts) for cleaning reduces the paper waste in the house.
You just chuck them in the washing machine when you’re done with them.
19) Reusable Containers for Food Storage
Instead of filling your deep freezer to the brim with plastic Ziploc bags, cling wrap, and tin foil, use reusable containers to store your food.
This way you cut back on unnecessary clutter, save some storage space, and have an eco-friendlier storage solution!
20) No More Straws
Paper or disposable straws might be more environmentally friendly, but they’re a pain in the neck! They last all of two or three minutes in your drink and then they start to fall apart.
If you keep straws in your home – it’s a better option to just go without them or, if you must have straws, there are aluminum straws that you can reuse.
21) Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
You know all those plastic soda bottles and aluminum cans you’ve got lying around the house? Why not make some interesting toys or a stationary organizer to neaten up your desk?
For one thing, a stationary organizer out of old soda cans is a great conversation starter but you’re also making use of something that would usually be thrown away.
22) Meal Plans
This one goes back to what I was saying earlier about eating everything on your plate at dinner.
Obviously, your stomach can only hold so much and if your plate is piled high there’s a chance of a lot of that food being wasted.
Meal plans which include the exact (or as exact as possible) portions you need will reduce the amount of wasted food in your house.
Start a compost heap in your backyard, this will give you a use for fruit peels and leftover food – among other bio-degradable trash – and provide the earth in your yard with extra nutrients.
All those broken eggshells, fruit peels, and other bits and pieces are looking a lot more useful now, aren’t they?
24) Learn Basic Repairs
Being able to fix something that’s broken is going to save you a lot of money on having to replace it.
You also reduce the amount of broken junk lying around the house.
We’ve all got a drawer somewhere full of old electronics manuals, various batteries of dubious reliability, keys from who knows where!
25) Turning Off the Lights
This is something that has come to irritate me over the last few years, seeing lights turned on in rooms where they’re not needed.
Your electricity bill’s already going to make your wallet cry, leaving your lights turned on will cause the bill to skyrocket Turn off the lights you don’t need!
26) Eat Leftovers
I know leftovers might not be the most appetizing meal, but if it’s safe to eat them then you should eat them.
It’s a shame to see good ol’ cottage pie or mac and cheese go to waste – especially as they can still taste good out of the microwave. If you’re not eating your leftovers, you should be.
27) Leftover Experiments
Leftovers aren’t always pleasant to eat, but they save you a lot of time; you can just heat the food in the microwave instead of cooking.
With that in mind, do some experimenting with the leftovers in your fridge and see what you can do with them. You may surprise yourself with the results and you’re avoiding wasted food.
28) Make a List
Making a list of necessities can help to limit the amount of waste in your home. Your list will help you limit your purchases to only what you need.
Now, a few luxury items won’t hurt from time to time, but the idea is that you don’t buy things you don’t need. If you want to avoid unnecessary waste in your house, a list may be the way to go.
29) No More Disposables
Paper cups and plates, sandwich bags, paper towels, and napkins can only be used once or twice before you need to throw them away.
These things have a tendency to clutter up your kitchen and pantry.
How do you avoid this? Well, you use up what you’ve got, for starters, and then refrain from buying more to replace them.
30) Little to No Packaging on Purchases
We talked about using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones before, now let’s talk about one of the biggest nuisances of shopping – packaging!
Yes, the packaging is one of the most frustrating things when it comes to shopping because you don’t know what to do with it half the time.
We’ve got almost 100 or so plastic shopping bags stored in a kitchen cupboard which are only ever used to remove animal carcasses from the house (the joys of living with four cats, am I right?)
Other than that, we don’t use them for shopping, we do sometimes use them for trash disposal, but that’s about it.
So, why keep them? The same problem occurs with certain types of packaging (i.e. tins, bottles, etc.) where you think of all the things you can use it for and it ends up cluttering the house.
How do we avoid this? Purchase items with little or no packaging wherever possible.
Things like fruit and veg can often be bought loose so you can use your reusable shopping bags and, maybe, a thin plastic bag from the fruit and veggie section of the shop.
This makes getting the packaging off much easier and since it can’t be reused in its current state, you can send it to a recycler to have it turned into something useful.
31) Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Make your own cleaning products from things found in your pantry. Curb dangerous chemicals from entering your home.
Not only do I find these products to be superior in grease-fighting power, but I feel safe with my friends’ kids and my dogs running around and licking the floor.
32) Make your Own Beauty Products
Switch up your beauty routine. Avoid harsh chemicals by making your own products. Your skin and hair will thank you.
It’s so easy to make makeup, lotion, and deodorant. You’ll have less packaging, less chemicals, a happier body, and a happier wallet.
33) Look for Products that Have a Variety of Uses
Look for products that can pull double duty.
You can switch to castile soap for almost anything. It’s great for dishes, laundry, skin, body, and hair.
A couple of drops mixed in a spray bottle with water makes for a great all purpose cleaner.
Waste Not, Want Not
Wastage around your house is frustrating in any form, and it can cause serious problems in terms of storage space in your fridge, pantry, or freezer.
There are also certain health-risks associated with waste around your house – if you’ve seen the show Hoarders, then you probably know what some of these risks and problems are.
So, as the old adage goes:
“Waste not, want not.”
These are just some of the ways you can reduce waste in your homes to make life so much easier.
I hope you all enjoyed the article and that it helps you out in some, small way. As always, thanks for reading everyone, I really appreciate it.