Becoming more conscious of what you consume and send to the landfill isn’t all that difficult. It takes knowing how to reduce waste in many different areas of your life, which is why I’ve cultivated a list of 101 ways to reduce waste.
By focusing on reducing your waste, you can live more sustainably and take pride in the efforts you are making. It doesn’t matter how big or small your efforts are, as long as you’re doing your best.
One thing I want you to be conscious of while you read through this list is that you don’t have to do everything on this list have an impact and make a difference. In fact, it is hard for me to do all of these things all of the time.
The most important thing is that you’re consistent with doing your best! Consistency is the long-term key to successful changes.
Start with a Trash Audit to Reduce Waste in Your Life //
Before we dive into the things you can do, you first need to know what you’re actually sending to the landfills. While you need to start with combing through your trash, I also suggest using a journal to document what you’re throwing away.
Remember how I said not to worry about doing everything on this list? Well, that is because not all areas have a recycling program for each plastic you’re throwing away. With writing down what the item is and what recycling number it has on it, you can consciously look for better alternatives. You can even contact the company to ask if they have a recycling program for that packaging or if they are seeking out different options.
Another thing you should do when combing through your trash is to pull out any food waste that is compostable, any paper that could still be recycled, and any packaging that is recyclable that needs washing.
If you’re unsure of what can be recycled in your area, contact your local trash service provider, as well as local stores like Target or Walmart. I’m told they offer bins to recycle certain things. Yes, I, too, am still learning all the different ways you can keep using a resource.
101 Ways to Reduce Waste
Before we dive into the list, I do want to point out that I categorized these things to make this list easier to digest. Also, there are still more ways to reduce waste in your home, so if you think of something that is not included in this list, please share them below in the comments!
9 Ways to Reduce Single-Use Waste //
- Use reusable bags versus taking home plastic bags
- Use produce bags versus the produce bags the grocery store offers
- Purchase or make your own reusable cloth napkins in lieu of paper towels
- Use reusable cotton rounds in lieu of cotton balls and/or cotton rounds
- Stop purchasing plastic water bottles and use a reusable water bottle
- Instead of traditional batteries, use rechargeable batteries
- Use reusable snack bags versus plastic single-use bags [Fun DIY if you want to make your own]
- Refill things like ink cartridges, shampoo, liquid soap, etc.
- Use a handkerchief or reusable cloth instead of tissues
25 Ways to Lessen Waste in the Kitchen //
- Compost food scraps
- Purchase things you regularly consume in bulk
- Use eggshells in the flower beds, garden, chicken feed, etc.
- Save the ends and regrow vegetables like onions and celery
- Freeze bananas when they are too ripe for banana bread or ice cream
- Save and eat leftovers, even if there is only a little left
- Stop using K-cups and invest in a stainless steel cup you can reuse
- Compost coffee grounds and filters [there are biodegradable and compostable options]
- Recycle soda cans and aluminum foil
- Replace plastic food storage containers when their life runs out with stainless steel or glass
- Use beeswax wraps versus cling wrap
- Support the local farmers’ markets where food has little to no packaging
- If you cannot compost for food scraps, take them to the farmers market for the farmers to use
- Use meal planning as a tool to ensure less food waste
- Return cartons to farmers for them to reuse
- Purchase meat from a local farmer to reduce waste in the chain of production
- Shop your cabinets for meals first
- Make coffee at home and use a reusable mug
- Don’t use disposable plates or utensils
- Reuse cardboard egg cartons to start seeds or organize drawers
- Grow your own food
- Store foods properly and they will last longer
- Opt for loose leaf tea or plastic-free tea bags
- Make your own snack bars versus purchasing individually wrapped snack bars
- Repair broken appliances
11 Ways to Reduce Home Goods Type Waste //
- Cut old sheets and towels into cleaning rags
- Donate old sheets and towels to animal or homeless shelters
- Turn old pillowcases into reusable produce bags
- Compost newspaper
- Reuse glass bottles for DIY gifts
- Regift things you aren’t going to use
- Stop using aerosol air fresheners and toxic candles, instead use an essential oil diffuser
- Go digital with magazine subscriptions
- Recycle old electronics responsibly
- Have a cable or phone charger wire coming apart? Find a friend who can fix it.
- Use cork or a natural product as coasters so that you can compost it in the end
13 Ways to Reduce Waste in the Bathroom //
- Opt for beauty products that aren’t in plastic containers, like shampoo bars or glass jars
- Look for tampons with applicators that are plastic-free or applicator-free
- Opt for a menstrual cup and/or reusable pad and/or period panties
- Use a safety razor versus a traditional plastic razor
- When you replace your hairbrush, choose wood
- Opt for bar soap versus liquid in a plastic container
- Switch from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush
- Use silk or a natural floss in a glass container versus plastic floss
- Use a natural loofah [compostable] versus a plastic loofah
- Purchase lip balm in a cardboard tube or glass jar
- Use a magnetic palette for eye shadows, blushes, and powder to create a customized palette full of colors you’ll use
- Make your own toothpaste or purchase toothpowder in a glass container
- Look for bath bombs wrapped in paper versus plastic
7 Ways to Reduce Office Waste //
- Purchase recycled paper versus newly created paper for the office
- Invest in a fountain pen that is refillable
- Go digital with your planner [I personally use Milanote, and love it!]
- Use a stapleless stapler
- Compost or recycle paper
- Stop solicitor mail altogether
- Opt for paperless billing
6 Ways to Reduce Clothing Waste //
- Cut old shirts into cleaning rags
- Turn old shirts into shopping bags
- Repair/mend clothes
- Stop purchasing cheaply-made clothes. Invest in quality-made clothing.
- Repair worn shoes
- Purchase a drycleaners bag to use at home versus taking clothes to the dry cleaners
4 Ways to Lessen Cleaning Waste //
- Purchase a natural concentrate all-purpose cleaner or make your own and use a glass spray bottle for your household cleaning
- Stop purchasing cleaners for every little thing you clean [window, bath, surface, etc.]
- Make your own reusable wipes for disinfecting surfaces
- Replace single-use mop pads with reusable ones
4 Ways to Reduce While Out and About //
- Quit fast food
- Opt for a reusable straw versus a plastic straw
- Take your own food storage containers for restaurant leftovers
- Take your lunch to work/school
22 Additional Tips //
- Buy things package-free when possible
- Avoid plastic when possible and opt for glass or metal
- Lint and toilet paper/paper towel rolls can be used together as fire starters
- Use cardboard boxes as fire starters
- Use wood ashes for chickens to dust bathe when it is wet and muddy
- Don’t replace something because the alternative version is currently trendy
- Refuse handouts that you don’t need
- Stop retail therapy shopping
- Recycle all that you can
- Email Amazon to make a note on your account to not use plastic in your packages
- Shop locally when possible versus online shopping
- Sell or donate items you no longer want versus throwing them away
- Stop chewing gum! It’s made with plastic!
- See if there is a local artist looking for supplies that you’re tossing into the trash
- Melt small crayons to create rainbow crayons
- Take time to think about online purchases. You may remember something you need or decide you don’t really need it.
- Check local stores to see if they have a recycling program
- Have a zero waste kit in all vehicles and a few things in your purse
- Reuse gift bags and tissue paper
- Repurpose something you were going to toss
- Remember quality over quantity
- Get a Pela phone case versus a plastic case
Total: 101 Ways to Reduce Waste
I hope you’ve learned how to reduce waste in your home and are excited to make some changes! Remember, it isn’t about trying to do everything all at once, but rather taking it one step at a time. Be proud of the changes you can make, and don’t sweat what you can’t change just yet.
Using the journal to document what you are sending to the landfills will help you be conscious of the things you bring into your life and provide consistency with progressing over time. The world needs every bit of good you can do, but it doesn’t require perfection.