10 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste at Home
Updated: Sep 29, 2021
Over the years, waste in our homes has increased dramatically because people are busier, and we rely more and more on convenient items and ways of doing things. But enough is enough! It’s time to have a look at what we’re doing and the effect it is having on our environment. Below are 10 simple ways we can reduce the waste in our homes and start setting an example.
Why pay for that extra bit of rubbish collection when approximately one third of our waste can be composted for free? A compost bin from Mitre 10 is about $45, alternatively, a stack of old tyres, or just simply piled on the ground in the corner of your section also does the trick! What can be composted, you may ask?
-Raw food scraps
-Plastic free tea bags
-Hair / fur
-Cotton or wool rags
-Cold ashes from the fireplace
-Vacuum cleaner dust
2. Buying Second Hand & Donating Used Items
Globally we produce 13 million tons of textile waste each year, 95% of which could have been reused! So next time you need a new outfit for a one-time event, why not try your local second hand store? And then why not donate it for the next person once you’re finished with it? If something isn’t reusable because it’s been stained, stretched, or torn, it could be used as a rag for the next time you check your car oil, or clean your windows! Think outside the box.
3. Reusable Items
So much of what we buy could be reused. Let’s talk about in the kitchen… You buy the same hummus every week in the same container. Why not throw them through the dishwasher when you’re finished with them and make a stack in your plastics drawer? These are perfect for leftovers or for storing open items in the fridge.
You buy the same coffee in the same jar every month. Why not throw them through the dishwasher when you’re finished with them and make a space for them in your cupboard. These are perfect for homemade jams or sauces – if you don’t make things like this, maybe your neighbor does?
Other things to think about (which you probably have already heard about) are things like reusable water bottles & coffee cups, and metal straws. What else in your home could you reuse?
4. Seek Less Packaging
So much of what we buy in the supermarket is packaged with unnecessary amount of plastic. So what can we do to avoid this?
Often if you buy your meat from a local butcher, they will allow you to bring your own containers into the store, or some even wrap the meat in paper rather than plastic. A less time consuming option than going to a butcher separate to a supermarket is to use a supermarket that has a butcher section.
Taking your reusable bags into the markets is always a great option for getting locally grown fruit and veges, without the packaging. But we don’t all have the time to go to the market! Instead, choose items in the fruit and vegesection of the supermarket that aren’t packaged, and bring your own bags!
Another option for people who maybe have a little more time up their sleeves is to go to shops such as Bin Inn and filling your own containers with products that you would normally get from the supermarket, covered in packaging. Items such as coffee, flour, nuts, cereals, and cleaning products.
Remember, every little bit counts!
5. Buy Quality
If we actively choose to buy higher quality items, over the cheap and nasty, they’re typically going to last longer, meaning they’ll need to be replaced less often, which equals less waste! Now, not everyone can afford to go for a more expensive option, and that’s fine. Maybe this is where you would refer to Facebook Marketplace to find a higher quality second hand item instead of buying a new cheaper item?
6. Ditch the Kitchen Disposables
We need to get the alternatives for regular used kitchen disposables sorted. Replacing the below items doesn’t take any extra effort, and actually saves money in the long run!
Glad wrap > Beeswax wraps, reusable containers, or reusable silicone food covers.
Paper towels > Damp cloth.
Traditional baking paper > Brown compostable baking paper.
Tin foil > Reusable grill mats, cedar food wraps, or silicone baking mats.
Zip bags > Reusable food bags, or reusable containers.
7. Buy Loose Leaf Tea
Did you know that most tea bags contain up to 25% plastic? This is such an unnecessary waste because there is such a wide variety of loose leaf teas out there, you might even find that the tea bags that you’re buying also have a loose leaf option (or even a compostable tea bag option!) right beside them on the supermarket shelf.
8. Reduce Wasted Food How much food are you throwing away at the end of each week? How can you avoid this? Here are some options… 1. Meal planning – by planning out exactly what your household is going to eat BEFORE you buy your groceries, there’ll be less uneaten food leftover at the end of the week. 2. Freezing food that’s about to go bad – so much of what we throw away, could be put into the freezer to use at another time. For example, you bought a bunch of bananas, but there’s a few left over that have gone brown. Throw them in the freezer so that you can make a banana cake with them next month, or put them in a smoothie next week. 3. Cooking food – often it gets towards the end of the week and there’s a few bits of everything left, 2 mushrooms, a zucchini, 2 carrots, a little bit of spinach, some random off cuts of meat. It’s not enough of anything to make a normal meal. Throw everything into the slow cooker and call it a “fridge clear out”, or make soup! 4. Buying reduced items at the supermarket – these are going to be thrown away if not purchased, so buy that mince with 1 day left on it and cook it up tonight, or put it straight into the freezer to eat at a later date.
Do you know what recycling your council collects? Start there. Do some research into what you can and cannot put into your recycling bin.
Then, when you HAVE to buy a packages product, try to buy products that have recyclable packaging. For example, buy a cardboard box over plastic, and buy plastic with the right numbers on them over ones that you can’t put into your recycling bin.
10. Reusable Personal Items
How can we make our personal items less wasteful?
What can we use instead of what we’re using?
Pads > Period underwear, or washable pads
Tampons > Menstrual cups
Makeup remover wipes > Soft cloth soaked in makeup remover
Single use razors > Reusable razors
Plastic toothbrushes > Bamboo toothbrushes
Baby wipes > Soft cloth soaked in water
Traditional nappies > Cloth nappies
Body wash / Hand soap > Soap bars
We really encourage you to have a look at this list and decide what you can compromise on. If you are already doing some of these things, awesome! But what else can you starting doing?
Remember… it’s a bigger picture thing, and every little bit counts!