10 ways to reduce your household waste

10 ways to reduce your household waste

Reduce your household waste by taking on these ideas

Reducing the amount of waste your household creates is a great way to make a positive difference for our environment. The best place to start is by looking at what you buy, as anything you bring into your home is something you may need to dispose of eventually.

Composting, reusing, recycling, and refusing items all helps to reduce household waste too.

Vegetables in produce bags with no plastic packaging
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

My top 10 ways to reduce household waste

Here are my top ideas to reduce your household waste:

1 Choose products with minimal or recyclable packaging

More and more companies are introducing home compostable ‘plastic’ packaging now. However, there are other ways to reduce the packaging you end up with:

  • Use reusable bags for fruit and veges.
  • Use reusable containers for deli items.
  • Shop at bulk stores or use the bulk bins at supermarkets – you could use your own containers, jars, or bags.
  • Choose products in recyclable glass jars and bottles, tins, cardboard or paper instead of in plastic packaging.

2. Compost at home

Composting is one of the best ways to remove food waste from your kitchen bin.

We have a compost caddy in a kitchen cupboard, which we use for non-meat food scraps, fruit and vegetable leftovers like peel and cores, and some paper and cardboard too. These all go into the garden compost bins – I will write a post about composting shortly, as it can be easy to set up, and not much of a hassle to get it working well.

We also keep chickens, who eat meat and dairy leftovers. They will also eat fruit and vegetable scraps too, so they are a good alternative to a compost bin. Plus you get the bonus of fresh eggs!

My compost caddy in the kitchen, with soft plastic recycling in the bin behind

3. Recycle well

Make the most of your council recycling service. Check your local council’s website for details of what they collect, and only put those types of recycling in there – try not to ‘wish cycle’:

Wish-cycling is the practice of tossing questionable items in the recycling bin, hoping they can be recycled. As much as we may want to reduce waste and recycle as much as we can, wish-cycling is a real threat to the success of curbside recycling programmes. 


4. Get into the second hand market – both buying and donating or selling

I am a huge fan of second hand shops, as you will see from my social media updates!

I love finding a pre-loved item that I need (or sometimes just want). Op Shops or Charity Shops are a win-win to me, as you find great quality items at a lower price than brand new, plus you support a charity at the same time.

My article What do charity shops want you to donate gives you some ideas about what to donate and what to look out for at second hand charity shops.

5. Use reusables – water bottle, coffee cup, containers for takeaways

Instead of buying a new bottle of water in a plastic bottle each time you need a drink, reusing a bottle is a much better option for the environment and for your finances.

Many people are lucky to have safe to drink water straight from the tap. At my house, we are on rainwater tanks, so we filter our water before it gets to our kitchen tap. It tastes great, so maybe try a water filter if you are not satisfied with the taste of your home tap water.

Here are some easy swaps to remove single use plastic that help you to reduce your household waste. Give them a go and they will quickly become new habits.

6. Make the most of leftovers

Instead of throwing away leftovers from dinner, you can use them in these ways:

  • An easy lunch the next day – I divide out a lunch sized portion before I dish up dinner.
  • Pop them in the freezer in containers for an ready meal style dinner another time (remember to label them!).
  • Make a double amount of dinner one night, and have it for two nights running (this may be a talking point, as I know many people don’t like to eat the same meal two nights in a row).

7. Swap plastic wrap for containers, beeswax wraps or simply use a bowl with a plate on top

Ditch the cling film or Glad wrap! There are lots of ideas here for eco-friendly alternatives to cling film.

You could save food in containers, use beeswax or elasticated ‘shower cap’ type food covers. Or just pop a plate over the top of a bowl to go into the fridge.

8. Put a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on your mailbox, and sign up for emailed bank statements, newsletters, etc

I put up a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker a year ago, and I haven’t missed the advertising flyers at all.

I signed up for emails from companies I do want to hear from, and also get bank statements online too. It saves us time in sorting out junk mail too.

9. Make cleaning products at home, instead of buying a range of commercial cleaning products.

I use vinegar and baking soda in place of many shop bought cleaners. Baking soda in particular is an excellent cleaner, but it can be a bit abrasive, so test it out on a small area of whatever you are cleaning first, to make sure it doesn’t scratch the surface.

I use baking soda to clean the toilet, bath, shower, and sinks. I use vinegar to wash the windows (when I actually get round to washing windows). I feel a blog post coming on about this – I’ll write it shortly!

10. Find ways to recycle things that are usually hard to recycle.

I collect the following items for these schemes:

  • Soft plastic recycling – this scheme has changed the amount of waste we put out to landfill, and made me realise how much soft plastic we actually bring into our home. Now I know how much we generate, I am working on reducing it through buying different products where I can. But some items, such as cheese, are still hard to find without plastic packaging, so this scheme is useful to me.
  • Terracycle – there are collection schemes for toothpaste tubes / toothbrushes / other oral care products, and other waste such as yoghurt suckies and coffee capsules. Find a collection point near you in NZ at https://www.terracycle.com/en-NZ/about-terracycle/drop_off_locations
  • Breadtags for Wheelchairs – I collect these on behalf of my local community, and drop them off at a collection point near me. Find out more at their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nzbreadtags/

You can also find recycling schemes for these types of household waste:

What are your tips for reducing household waste? Love to hear from you in the comments.

Quote from Anne Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef

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