let’s face it, taking out the trash is no one’s favorite chore. And what makes that chore even worse is knowing that your trash is probably full of needless and expensive waste.
So at some point, it must have occurred to you that there have to be some simple, and achievable ways to reduce your trash levels at home. Ways that will not only save you money but will be both sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Well, the good news is, that there is, and that information is right here.
In this article, I have listed my top and most successful trash reducing methods. They are easy to implement and you don’t need a small fortune to do them. In Fact, once you start you will find that you benefit from a lot more than just extra dollars in the pocket.
Curious? Then read on…
One quick note: if you are able to buy these things locally, PLEASE DO. Local traders are an important part of the economic revival and your eco-store needs your help. However in the interests of full disclosure;
Which brings me to the list… Enjoy
Stop Buying Bin Bags
Change your kitchen bin for a smaller one and then skip buying garbage bags altogether. A smaller bin will be easier to keep clean, won’t smell, and will encourage you to make fewer purchases.
Honestly, this simple life hack will help you to reduce your trash levels and overall waste footprint considerably.
Do A 30 Day Trash Audit
If you want to reduce your trash levels at home then you first need to know where your trash is being generated.
I know this sounds awful but it really works.
Simply empty out your trash to make a physical check of what and where you are generating your trash landfill. You will be surprised at what you find and then you can make plans to reduce and buy more eco-friendly alternatives.
Take The 30 Day Spend Less Challenge
Your trash doesn’t just come from your food shopping, it also comes from your general spending. Take a month to check through all your spending to learn where you are making unnecessary purchases. Don’t forget to check the kids too.
Stop Buying Plastic Disposables
Did you know that it is estimated that 2 billion disposable razors are discarded each year?
Now, that is just one disposable product and you may have many more in your home. Investigate what you have and consider switching to the alternatives, such as a safety razor or waxing cloth.
And don’t even get me started on plastic toothbrushes!
Buy A Material Grocery bag
Material bags are tougher, stronger, bigger, and totally earth-friendly. We only use plastic bags out of convenience but with up to one trillion plastic bags used each year that’s not sustainable. Plus did you know that the average use time for a plastic bag is only 12 minutes before it’s discarded?
According to the EPA, in the United States, people use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly. And this requires a staggering 12 million barrels of oil just to make them.
Please watch this video, it’s only 2 minutes out of your life and I guarantee you a smile at the end.
So please, make the investment and buy a material bag (or bags) today. You can even buy bags that can fit into your pocket so you will never be without a bag.
Make A Shopping List
Making a list will focus your mind and prevent you from buying needlessly.
Ask yourself this question and be honest…
How much food and drink do you throw away each month because it’s uneaten and out of date? Or worse, a duplicate unplanned and unused item which was surplus to requirements?
Creating a shopping list and sticking to it, no more impulse buying can reduce your household waste considerably. This is because when we impulse buy we inevitably overestimate our needs. so don’t do it!
Dads tip: Always remember to double-check your food storage areas for items on your shopping list before heading out of the house. It’s a win-win: you won’t waste money on duplicate items that might go to waste, and you can save on storage space as well.
First In First Out
This is the principle of rotation that every shop worker has to learn. Put simply when you are unpacking your shopping and putting it on the shelf do this one simple thing. Bring the old product to the front and place the new product behind it.
This will rotate your date codes, prevent clutter, focus your mind on your resources, and ultimately reduce your waste.
Say No To Plastic Produce Bags
Grocery stores like to pack things into plastic bags, which you then discard as soon as you get home. Save yourself the turtle food and use your own produce bag instead.
I crafted some pillowcases into produce and bulk bags which worked fine for me for years.
Buying local will have a significant effect on your carbon footprint but will also cut down on your trash. Furthermore, it will allow you to put wet products such as meat, butter, and oil into reusable glass mason jars.
This will save on packaging and keep them fresh for the short journey home.
Shopping local is not only good for the planet but it’s also good for the soul. Two-way interaction and warm relationships can be built between you and the trader.
You can learn all about the goods you are buying and then return any used packaging to them on every trip. Trust me they will love you for it!
My favorite is a local beekeeper (Richard) who keeps a few hives in his back garden. His honey keeps my hayfever to within manageable levels and in return, he can talk about his love of eco-friendly beekeeping!
Buy In Bulk
Buying your products package free not only cuts down on cardboard and plastic waste but is actually 15% cheaper. This is because loose products are exempt from any packaging tax so you can eat healthier and save money too.
Cutting out packaging by buying in bulk will reduce your trash levels at home by a significant amount. However, don’t be tempted to change to fast, it’s not a race. Know that no one is going to judge you for going at your own pace and this journey needs to be sustainable.
Stop thinking that your freezer is just there for your frozen peas and to keep your ice cream cold.
Your freezer is a powerful tool in your kitchen and the superhero of food waste minimization. If you aren’t sure you’ll be able to eat something before it goes bad (like bread or meat), simply place it into your freezer for later use.
And don’t forget about those wilting veggies. If you can’t use them up straight away pop them into the freezer. Most fruits and veg can be frozen and then used for soups, smoothies, or even stews at a later date.
You can also do this for leftovers, pre-prepped meals, and bulk foods.
Do you want to avoid wasting food but don’t have the room to freeze it? Then consider donating any uncooked, pre-packaged food products to a local food pantry or other such charity that can distribute them to those in need.
Buy Your Milk And Pop In Returnable bottles
It’s hard to find a supplier who will return a deposit on glass bottles but this old habit is making a return. Glass, tin, and even plastic bottles are being sold with a refundable deposit in some areas. Be a part of this change and suggest it to your local stores and traders.
Why incur the cost of recycling bottles when they can be in your local closed-loop cycle indefinitely.
Don’t Buy Frozen
Apart from the health issues around sugar content etc, frozen food is a packaging nightmare.
The food is presented in a mostly non-recyclable plastic tray that has a plastic lid. This is then placed inside a chemically treated, water-resistant box alongside others to form a plastic-wrapped multipack.
All of this goes into your garbage at home. If you truly want to reduce your waste at home, and around the world then stop buying frozen.
Avoid The Processed Food Aisles
Just like frozen foods, processed foods are not only bad for your health but are bad for the environment. It is far better to make your own stews, casseroles, soups, yogurts, and ice-creams then freeze or chill them.
I guarantee that your health will improve, your waste will reduce and your shopping bill will be smaller.
Just don’t go all “GHOST” on me when peeling the veggies!
Never Buy Bottled Water
It always amazes me that people will buy and drink bottled water at home. It is simply marketing propaganda that it is better for you than tap water. Believe me, it’s not. In fact, the chemical pollution standards for bottled water and tap water are nearly identical.
So save yourself the waste and stop buying bottled water. If you are skeptical you can buy a water filter for your home and a reusable water bottle for trips. I actually use mine to make sure that I get my daily quota of water which is good for my mental health.
Keep your Coffee Packaging Free
Avoid the plastic coffee pods which are now a high plastic pollutant and buy your coffee loose from a quality retailer or bulk store. You can then brew it in a soft brew, or french press and enjoy the environmental saving.
You could even try a reusable coffee filter in your coffee maker to reduce your trash levels even further. Plus if you are in the habit of bringing your disposable coffee cups home, consider a reusable travel mug.
Avoid Single Serving Packages
If you are trying to reduce your trash levels at home you should also think about the small stuff. Is there just some stuff that you do buy out of habit but don’t need to.
For example kids, snacks are heavily packaged like single-serve cheese, popcorn, crisps, and lollies. Even the natural stuff falls under this heavily packaged banner such as snack packs of apple, mixed fruit, and snack carrots!
Opt for full-size packs to divide later, you’ll save money and save on waste.
Buy Recyclable Straws
We never use straws in our house but for those who do there are now plenty of alternatives available. Straws come in a wide range of materials and prices so there really is no excuse for purchasing disposable ones.
Ditch The Kitchen Sponge
Most kitchen sponges are also made from polyester or nylon which does not biodegrade. This means that they will sit in a landfill for many years and then leach chemicals into the environment. Plus, as they are a breeding ground for germs you should be changing them frequently.
Swedish dish dishcloths, however, have the functionality of a sponge and the versatility of microfibre cloth.
I don’t recommend microfibre cloths as they leach microbeads of plastic into the environment.
These dishcloths also air dry quicker meaning slower bacteria growth and they can be popped into the dishwasher for sanitizing!
Alternatively, try a 100% natural eco sponge. Eco Sponges are the natural alternative to traditional kitchen sponges and rarely scratch surfaces. They do however provide enough abrasion to get the job done.
One of the best ways to reduce your trash levels at home is to borrow from a friend. No packaging means no waste and borrowing means one less of that item being constructed from our dwindling resources.
So not only are you reducing your waste you are also reducing your carbon footprint. (happy face).
Turn Trash Reduction Into A Game
Kids love games and dads love competition, so try this one.
Weigh your garbage for the week and then ask everyone to guess how low you can get it for the following week. The person who comes the closest gets an individual treat from everybody else. You can keep it simple like doing their chores for instance or maybe you can really push the boat out?
Whatever it is, simply make sure it’s fun and watch the trash levels drop as the competition gets hot!
Give It Away
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Use the free ads, Freecycle, Buy nothing, etc to rehome your waste. I have a man in my area who turns tin cans into art and funds his life through this hobby. So be creative and give it away.
I also think that it’s very important to give your no longer loved things to charity. Charities do a lot of good and it’s so much better to rehome stuff than it is to see it in landfills.
Join A Library Or Go Digital
Who needs a hard copy of a book, or magazine these days?
In today’s age of technology, we no longer need to generate mass amounts of paper, cardboard, and plastics to create our reading material. It can all be done online or at your local Library with the added benefit that no hard waste is created.
Whats more Amazon has a massive selection of inexpensive Audible books and E-Books and some cost nothing at all!
Say No To Junk Mail
A lot of junk mail is coated in a plastic layer or has envelopes with plastic windows. Just by the very act of accepting this mail, you are effectively voting for more of it to be produced. So you are also actively increasing both the number of plastics produced and the amount of junk mail sent out.
If you want to reduce your trash levels at home and lower our demand for new virgin plastic production you must take action.
Create A Scrap Paper Notes Box
This is a popular one in my house. Simply cut your personal details away from any correspondence delivered to your house. Next, take an old box, a shoebox will do, remove the lid and drop the plain paper into the box.
Now whenever you need to make notes, shopping lists, etc, you will have the paper on hand to do it.
This will cut down on purchasing notepads and will give use to paper otherwise wasted. Once you have finished with the paper it will make perfect dry compostable material for your compost bin.
Reduce Your Paper Consumption
Maybe it’s time to bite the technology bullet and go digital. Consider reading your newspaper or fancy magazine online instead of a hard copy that has to be trashed. And move all your bills, bank statements, and correspondence online too.
You will save the planet a lot of trees and resources but don’t overdo it as each email also has a carbon footprint cost.
For more information please read my article:
Invest In A Bidet
Covid-19 showed the world that toilet paper might not always be available. It also brought to attention just how much toilet paper we use and the money we literally just flush away.
Sorry couldn’t help myself!
The point is that a bidet will pay for itself over time and can reduce your toilet paper usage by 75% or up to 100%. It also carries no risk of injury to those with sensitive skin and removes bacteria. (Rather than just moving it around).
According to an article from TODAY, “the average U.S. household uses 409 equalized regular rolls per year. So depending on brand and price paid over ten years, you are looking at around $3,000 for toilet paper.
Compare this to a bidet which can cost anywhere from $120 to $1,200 and is never going to run out! You can then dry yourself with family wipes which are simply washed and reused. Zero cost and perfectly compostable at the end of life.
Also, did you know that it takes 37 gallons of water, 1.3 kilowatts/hours (KWh) of electricity, and some 1.5 pounds of wood to make a single roll of toilet paper?
Now, compare that with the minimal electricity usage and the 1/8th of a gallon of water used each time by the average bidet. And don’t forget to add on the packaging and transportation costs.
The best bidet toilet seat for most homes. It includes a nightlight, warm water, a heated seat, and air drying, but also includes a little extra when it comes to cleaning.
It has both front and back washes, plus an oscillating wide clean, a massage feature, and aerated washes.
The perfect and most eco-friendly way to reduce your trash levels at home is to home compost.
Do you know that organic waste makes up to about 40% of your household waste rising to about 60% in the summer months?
And the good news is, if you are limited in garden space or live in an apartment then you still have options. Today, composting technology has moved on a long way and the whole process has been incredibly simplified.
Basically, pretty much anything that was once alive, or made through a natural process can be composted. And it is not uncommon to find worm composters or Bokashi composting systems in people’s homes these days. Although you will need a small outside space for your Bokashi pickled waste.
These systems come complete with instructions and starter kits containing everything you need. Just don’t fill them up with rotting meat, fish, or fat as these tend to smell as they decompose.
However, the juice that you will strain off from these systems is 100% perfectly organic and makes great plant food. For free!
If you have the money, live in an apartment, and want a no worm, bran, or chemical alternative there is even an option for you. Food cycler indoor composter on amazon
Make Your Own Non-Toxic Cleaners
This is a favorite of mine as I don’t like breathing in the fumes from commercially bought cleaners.
Many of the containers used for commercial cleaners aren’t recyclable and will end up in your trash. However, there are many recipes online for natural cleaners. Believe me, they are so simple to make and you can even store them in all those glass jars that you are now recycling. (Double Saving)!!!
I have an article on homemade natural cleaners which will quickly tell you all about them.
So for more information please read my article:
By doing this one simple thing you can significantly reduce your trash levels at home. Plus, you will save a ton of money and improve your mental and physical health in the process.
Trust me, it only takes a little effort to provide a chemical-free environment for your family?
Reduce Your Cosmetics
Reduce your cosmetics and consider making your own substitutes. There are many recipes out there and the zero waste community swear by them. Unfortunately, as a man, I have not investigated cosmetics to a point where I can advise upon them.
Ditch The Throwaway Diapers
It is estimated that one child who potty trains up to the age of three will use up a staggering 7,200 disposable diapers! That’s also an incredible cost of between $3,200 and $4,000 depending upon the brand you buy.
Plus, the (EPA) estimates that approximately 20 billion disposable diapers are dumped into landfills each year. That’s a staggering 3.5 billion tons of waste. So If you seriously want to reduce the levels of trash in your home and are a new parent then I have an answer for you.
There is an alternative to disposable diapers and it is not the unhygienic, rough cloth diapers of the past. Today’s diapers are colorful, better fitting, healthier for baby, do not require a large pin, and are 100% washable.
Moreover, raising your kids’ in modern cloth diapers is seen as being sustainable, frugal, environmentally friendly, and incredibly chic!
Oh, and did I mention it’s cheaper too!!!
Cloth Not Paper
We touched upon this point when we mentioned a bidet instead of toilet paper. However, there are far more things that we could swop.
Try these paper alternatives:
- Highly absorbent cloth squares to replace paper towels for a variety of uses
- Small cloth square or material offcut to replace a paper handkerchief
- Pretty cloth napkins to replace boring paper ones
Purchase Quality Not Quantity
One of the easiest ways to generate less waste is to buy products that are made to last. These products usually have greater longevity as they carry high-quality parts that can be repaired or replaced. Therefore, it makes sense to spend a little extra to obtain quality and durability.
When an item has come to the end of its natural life don’t just bin it, upcycle it. This has always been a cool and chic thing to do but now it’s more important than ever. Kids love to upcycle and it can become quite addictive for the creatives amongst us.
We have upcycled old clothes into shopping bags, potato sacks into grow bags, and egg boxes into seed starter pots. Upcycling for me is great for family bonding, and an activity that everyone can get involved in.
Don’t Buy Plastic Toys
It seems that we are always buying toys for one group or another whether that be our pets, kids, or other family members Many of these toys start off bright, shiny, and interesting but soon lose there appeal and are promptly trashed.
Simply cut out this trash by buying good quality toys made from sustainably sourced materials. These toys such as the Steiff teddy bears, wooden chess sets, and board games don’t lose their appeal and quite often last for many years.
Some even increase in value and can be passed down through the generations.
In the case of pet toys, try to buy natural fiber toys that are 100% safe and completely compostable. I always struggle as to why people buy pet toys that say “poisonous if ingested”, especially chew toys!
My favorite pet toy materials are hemp and, rice husk. However for longevity and knowing that the toys are completely toxin-free and 100% recyclable, I like West Paw Designs’ toys. Although to be honest I never expect any toy to last long with my dog!
Sign Up To Terracycle
TerraCycle offers a range of national, easy-to-use recycling platforms allowing everyone to RecycleEverything, as well as Loop, a sustainable shopping experience moving the world away from single-use packaging.
TerraCycle offers free recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste. Simply choose the programs you’d like to join; start collecting in your home, school, or office; download free shipping labels, and send them your waste to be recycled.
In other words, you can reduce your trash levels at home by signing up to loop to stop retailers from sending you excess packaging. Plus, you can contact Terracycle to help you with your typically non-recyclable items through their national, first-of-their-kind recycling platforms.
So there we have it, 37 achievable ways to reduce your trash levels at home without having to spend a small fortune.
Each year our landfill waste slowly releases toxins, pollutes our waterways, and contributes methane to the atmosphere. So while it might be easier to simply ignore how much waste we produce, the truth is that we no longer can. We must find ways to turn this trash into resources and in the meantime reduce our contribution to it.
If you have chosen to adopt any, or hopefully all, of these waste reduction hacks then I thank you. Do not be put off by the size of the task or those people who discredit your actions.
For as Tao Te Ching put it:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
Mark Aspland is a proud father of two boys, would be amateur actor and green living enthusiast. He has been sharing hints, tips and sustainable living content on his website Sustainability Dad since august 2019.
He now has an army of followers who are like hearted individuals passionate about the environment and how to affect positive change through peaceful action.