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Simple and Effective Ways to Reduce Waste at Home

A Practical Guide for Busy Individuals and Families
fresh bread in cloth bag and loose chickpeas in glass jar to help reduce waste at home

We live in a fast-paced world which makes finding ways to reduce waste at home appear daunting. This is even more true for busy working individuals and families with kids and pets. However, a little planning and the right tools can help. Let’s explore some practical and actionable steps you can take to help reduce waste at home, simplify your life and reduce your carbon footprint. 

Embrace the Three Rs Mantra: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

The three Rs are the basis of waste reduction strategy and allow us to make smarter choices. Let’s see what this classic mantra entails:

Reduce. We can evaluate what items to buy and skip by assessing our consumption habits. We should buy only what we need and avoid impulse purchases. The next step is to minimise packaging by buying loose or bulk. For example, loose veggies instead of packaged ones, and cereals in bulk to reduce packaging to a minimum. Interestingly, it is not only eco-friendly but often helps save money. 

Reuse. Invest in reusable items like coffee mugs, water bottles, shopping bags, lunch containers, safety razors, period cups or panties, etc. to cut down on single-use plastic. Old jars can be used as storage containers, lunch boxes or vases. Old bed linens, towels and clothing can be used as cleaning rags. Every time you are about to throw away an item, consider how it can be reused or repurposed. 

Recycle. Read carefully your local recycling guidelines to be sure you recycle correctly. Separate well, and rinse glass and aluminium containers. Avoid contamination. 

various size and shape glass jars reused at storage containers

Try composting

Composting is a great way to reduce kitchen and garden waste with little effort. Furthermore, it creates nutrient-rich soil for your plants—a win-win. There are different composting solutions, even for small flats! Why not try worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, which is compact, odour-free and efficient?

Shop Smart and Eco-friendly to help reduce waste at home

Plan and make a shopping list to avoid unnecessary or compulsive purchases. That helps avoid food waste and save money.

Please prioritise unpackaged items whenever possible. When not, choose reusable or recyclable packaging. Glass jars, metal tins, and cardboard are better alternatives to plastic.

Buy in Bulk. Frequently used items could be bought in bulk to reduce packaging. 

Please support your local sustainable brands and artisans by prioritising their products. Farmer’s markets and small local shops usually offer more eco-friendly products with less packaging. Why not research local sustainability-promoting brands and their initiatives? This way you might find new products you’ll love. Furthermore, you will also contribute to sustaining your local economy. 

fresh loose fruit at farmer's market

Go Paperless to Reduce Waste at Home

There are digital solutions available to help reduce unnecessary paper waste. For example, digital documents like bank statements, bills, and receipts could be stored in the cloud, organised neatly and accessed whenever needed. 

Online and in-shop receipts can be emailed instead of printed physical versions. 

Try going paperless when note-taking. There are plenty of apps available that can help increase productivity and efficacy when taking notes, making to-do lists, shopping lists, etc. Evernote and OneNote are great ones to try out. 

Reduce Food Waste at Home with meal planning and proper food storage

Food waste is common in the Western world but can be easily reduced with little planning. Meal planning is a habit that saves time, energy and money in the long run. How do we do it? By creating a weekly meal plan for the family. Once the meal plan is ready, you should check your fridge and pantry, and prepare a shopping list with missing items. This way it is easy to avoid unnecessary and random shopping which in turn allows to reduce spoilage and waste.

The next step is to store food correctly to extend its shelf life. For example, use air-tight containers for dry produce and leftovers, keep apples and bananas separately to avoid them ripening too quickly, and keep fresh herbs in a glass of water. 

Be creative with your leftovers, or pack them as your work lunch for the next day. 

glass mug used used for dessert

Green Cleaning Solutions

Eco-friendly cleaning solutions not only help reduce waste at home but also promote a healthier living environment. You can DIY cleaners and buy refillable or solid versions. 

Homemade cleaners are quick, easy and non-toxic. You likely already have the ingredients at home: vinegar, baking soda and lemon. Some eco-friendly brands offer refillable packaging options that help reduce packaging waste. You can also buy tabs or powders that dissolve in water to make a cleaning spray for a specific purpose. 

The next step is to ditch single-use wipes and paper towels and utilise reusable fabric cloths instead.  

Kid and Pet-Friendly Waste Reduction

Reducing waste at home with kids and pets might seem intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Teach kids to be mindful about waste, and involve them in recycling and composting activities. Choose clothing and toys made from sustainable materials. Then teach kids to take care of their belongings from a young age. 

For your pets choose eco-friendly products whenever possible like compostable poop bags. Buy food in bulk, and try making food and snacks at home from clean and healthy ingredients. 

Energy and Water Consumption

Use energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs. Turn off lights and unplug devices when not in use. Install a programmable thermostat.

For water conservation, fix any leaks and consider installing water-saving fixtures. Furthermore, consider collecting rainwater for gardening and watering indoor plants. 

Create your signature style and capsule wardrobe

Defining your style is very helpful in avoiding unnecessary and random purchases. The next step is to create a capsule wardrobe and keep clothing and accessories to the bare minimum acceptable to you. Always prioritise eco-friendly and sustainable brands, even better local ones. On top of that, prioritise quality over quantity.

Inspire others and share your knowledge

One of the best ways to maximise your impact is by educating others about the importance of reducing waste at home. Share your knowledge with friends, family, and neighbours. Create a community group to exchange tips and support each other’s efforts.

Additional Tools to Help Reduce Waste at Home

Too Good To Go and Olio App. These apps help find your local businesses that have surplus food at the end of the day which you can buy at a reduced price while helping to reduce waste. 

Paprika Recipe Manager App can help manage, organise and save recipes from the web, and create meal plans and shopping lists. You can also sync your data across all your devices which is very helpful. 

Vinted, Depop Apps. They might be useful in selling clothing, accessories, books and various household items that are no longer in use.

Final Thoughts

By incorporating these actionable steps and utilising the right tools, even the busiest households can effectively reduce waste at home. In the long run, you will simplify your life and daily routines, save money, and contribute to a healthier planet. Start small and make gradual consistent changes. Soon reducing waste will become a second nature of your entire household. 

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