8 Ways to Reduce Waste at Home

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waste basket

Here’s a question for you to ponder today:

How low can you go? 

No, I’m not talking about doing the limbo, I’m talking about garbage here folks!  How low can you get your garbage output to go?  A really obvious way to see the results of your green efforts is to pay attention to the amount of garbage you kick to the curb each week.  Depending on where you live, you might be able to switch to a smaller garbage can or even go down to one garbage pickup a month.  If you pull that off, you’ll not only be going green, you’ll be saving green!  Even if you don’t change your pick-up service, you’ll probably save money by trying some of these low-waste ideas:

Buy Reusable, Not Disposable

Invest in durable, reusable products instead of wasteful disposables.

  • Microfiber or cotton cloths instead of paper towels and disposable wipes.
  • Rechargeable batteries instead of traditional.
  • Reusable tableware and utensils instead of the throw-away type.
  • A glass straw instead of one-use plastic straw.

Buy Products with Less Packaging

Reduce the amount of packaging waste you throw out by simply not bringing it home in the first place.

  • Forget all those mini packages of snacks you see at the store.  Buy a big box or bag and send it to school in reusable snack bags.
  • Purchase meat wrapped in butcher paper instead of packed on un-recyclable styrofoam trays.
  • Avoid food sold in big plastic clam-shells.  There is usually an alternative way to buy the same product with less packaging.
  • Look for concentrated versions of cleaning products that come in smaller bottles.
  • Buy food in bulk to reduce packaging waste.

Refill It!!

Fill up an old container instead of buying a new one.

  • Bring jars or bags from home to fill with nuts, seeds, beans, flour, granola and more from the bulk bins.
  • Pay a deposit on a glass milk jug and bring it back to be refilled when you are finished.
  • Purchase cleaning products that offer refill packets (like Green Irene or Simply Neutral)
  • Look for refillable beauty products like shampoo, lotion or liquid soap at your local co-op or health food store.
  • Refill printer cartridges instead of buying new.

Repurpose

Use something you already have instead of buying something new for the job.

  • Old t-shirts and towels become absorbent rags.
  • Plastic yogurt tubs are great for holding crayons, paintbrushes, nails etc…
  • Keep shoe boxes for storing old papers or favorite mementos.
  • Egg cartons are perfect for separating craft supplies.

Compost Food Waste

Turn food scraps into valuable dirt for your garden!

  • Start small with a kitchen composter.
  • Find an outdoor space for a compost bin or tumbler.
  • Let worms do the work!
  • Read my post on composting for more info!

Recycle Everything You Can

Go beyond curbside recycling and commit to recycling as much as you can.

  • Office supply stores often take printer cartridges and old cell phones.
  • Turn in old sports shoes to participating REI and Nike stores
  • Fundraising programs like Terracycle.net take used drink pouches, yogurt cups and snack packages and turn them into useful household products.
  • Bring dry cleaning bags & hangers back to the dry cleaner.
  • Donate old pillows and blankets to the Humane Society.

Be Prepared

Keep reusable items in strategic places to keep you from wasting even more.

Be Selective

Don’t take it if you don’t need it!

  • Pass on freebies that you really won’t use.
  • Think twice before you buy.
  • Don’t buy it just because it’s cheap!

What other ideas do you have for reducing your waste at home? 

Note:  Many of these ideas are expounded upon in my book Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making.  Pick up a copy for yourself to learn more!

(Full disclosure:  there are affliate links in this post.)

 

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About Micaela

Micaela Preston is a marketing and communications consultant specializing in natural, organic and eco-friendly products and the health and wellness space. Micaela is available as a social media manager, green lifestyle writer, public speaker, brand ambassador and marketing manager.

Comments

  1. Sheree Cade says:

    Shaklee’s Basic H2 makes several hundred bottles of all purpose cleaner thereby saving tons of plastic spray bottles from going into the landfills.
    Learn more at http://www.greensheree.myshaklee.com.

  2. These are great tips! We do some of this. We live in an apartment that doesn’t have recycling pickup. Still I take it over to the center every other week. We also have a worm bin for compost and we get some of our food from the bulk bins and farmers market. We also don’t use disposable anything. Our weekly garbage that goes out to the curb is usually a small 3 pound bio-bag. This amazes me and yet I know we could still be making smarter purchases. It’s always a little troubling to see so many packaged foods go into my reusable grocery bag. I even have a little song I sing “I brought my own bag so you could put a bag in it…” Like everything, it is still a work in progress.

  3. MamaWendy says:

    Those are really great ideas – thanks for sharing! I’ve been happy with my own recent refill idea at home. I buy a big bottle of liquid castile soap and use that to refill my self-foaming hand soap dispenser. I only need to fill it 1/4 or less with soap and the rest with water. Cheap and simple!

  4. Love your foaming soap idea MamaWendy!

  5. Very impressive. This post is interesting and useful indeed. I learned so many things from this that’s why I wanna thank the admin. I will book mark it for further info and research.

  6. I buy some items in bulk as long as it is a really great deal and I can store till used without spoiling. I have also noticed at Sams that some items/brands are not cheaper in bulk, sometimes the identical brand in smaller quantities was cheaper per unit at the Wal-Mart next door to Sams.

    I think they’re banking on what I call “The Auction Mentality” where the consumer believes that just because its in a warehouse club or listed in a auction it has to be cheaper.

  7. I buy some items in bulk as long as it is a really great deal and I can store till used without spoiling. I have also noticed at Sams that some items/brands are not cheaper in bulk, sometimes the identical brand in smaller quantities was cheaper per unit at the Wal-Mart next door to Sams.

    I think they’re banking on what I call “The Auction Mentality” where the consumer believes that just because its in a warehouse club or listed in a auction it has to be cheaper.

  8. I buy some items in bulk as long as it is a really great deal and I can store till used without spoiling. I have also noticed at Sams that some items/brands are not cheaper in bulk, sometimes the identical brand in smaller quantities was cheaper per unit at the Wal-Mart next door to Sams.

    I think they’re banking on what I call “The Auction Mentality” where the consumer believes that just because its in a warehouse club or listed in a auction it has to be cheaper.

  9. I buy some items in bulk as long as it is a really great deal and I can store till used without spoiling. I have also noticed at Sams that some items/brands are not cheaper in bulk, sometimes the identical brand in smaller quantities was cheaper per unit at the Wal-Mart next door to Sams.

    I think they’re banking on what I call “The Auction Mentality” where the consumer believes that just because its in a warehouse club or listed in a auction it has to be cheaper.

  10. I buy some items in bulk as long as it is a really great deal and I can store till used without spoiling. I have also noticed at Sams that some items/brands are not cheaper in bulk, sometimes the identical brand in smaller quantities was cheaper per unit at the Wal-Mart next door to Sams.

    I think they’re banking on what I call “The Auction Mentality” where the consumer believes that just because its in a warehouse club or listed in a auction it has to be cheaper.

  11. I buy some items in bulk as long as it is a really great deal and I can store till used without spoiling. I have also noticed at Sams that some items/brands are not cheaper in bulk, sometimes the identical brand in smaller quantities was cheaper per unit at the Wal-Mart next door to Sams.

    I think they’re banking on what I call “The Auction Mentality” where the consumer believes that just because its in a warehouse club or listed in a auction it has to be cheaper.

  12. Recycling is very helpful. Those plastic bags we take home are usually good for something else. These tips can serve as initial guides for people who are just getting into recycling. It’s time to save Mother Earth.

  13. Great article – I’ve just started recycling etc they say we are never too old so here goes – you’ve enlightened me. Thanks

  14. Composting, by far, made the biggest dent in my trash! I couldn’t believe it! We are a family of five and have one bag of trash per week – at most. Of course we were recycling everything we could before that.
    The other tip I have is to reduce your junk mail. It not only saves paper, but saves your time and sanity!

  15. Great tips – thanks. Here’s another: use solid soap for sinks and baths/showers, rather than the liquid soaps that come in bottles. They’re mostly water anyway, right? Solid soap bars can be cute and even wrapped in paper. Better even than the refillable liquid stuff, which inevitably comes in plastic anyway.

    Let’s ask our own mothers and grandmothers what they did during the depression and before plastic took over our lives. :-)

  16. Thanks for sharing! I usually wrap the children’s christmas gifts in strong and fancy wrapping paper, but use ribbons instead of tape or glue. That way I can reuse all of it next season. They already learned not to tear it apart ;-)

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