30 Ways To Reduce Household Waste
Do you ever feel like you are constantly having to empty your trash cans, and take them out to the collection bin (or in our case, to the dump)?
I have definitely felt like that before.
It seems like EVERYTHING comes in a large plastic container of some sort, plus, cooking from scratch means lots of paper towel and napkin use, right?
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Today, I am going to tell you about 30 different things we started doing several years ago to reduce household waste.
In our house we reduce household waste by trying to avoid any products that are a “use it and lose it”. Meaning, anything that can’t be re-used multiple times is not welcome.
Well, other than toilet paper, that is. For all his teasing about using the shower curtain when someone forgets to replace the toilet paper roll, my husband would never be on board with “family cloth”!
We avoid buying disposable products for several reasons:
Obviously, if you can re-use things over and over again, it usually saves you quite a bit of money.
The landfills and oceans are becoming more and more full of toxic waste, and forests are being mowed down, with little regard to the environmental effects. We want to contribute as little as possible to that!
Most disposable products are made with toxic chemicals. Even most paper products are bleached, and aluminum itself will leach into your food and drink. Plastic and Styrofoam are well known for their nasty chemical leaching as well.
Therefore, we reduce household waste by avoiding disposable products whenever we can.
*We also like to avoid any plastic products, even if they are technically reusable, because of the toxic element, so that is included in this list as well.
There are a few affiliate links included in this list, but most of the links are to DIY posts on my blog that will show you how to make or use these items yourself!
Here is how we do it:
- Use reusable shopping bags when shopping.
- Use old rags for cleaning the house. This includes using a wet old washcloth as a cover for my Swiffer when I mop, and a felt square for when I use it dry! Works like a charm.
- Handkerchiefs instead of tissues.
- Wire and wooden baskets, large glass jars, and burlap bags for all storage.
- Cloth diapers and wipes for baby.
- Cloth gift bags for birthdays and Christmas.
- Mama cloth or a DivaCup instead of disposable tampons and pads for the ladies.
- Reuse any plastic or paper bags that happen to find their way into your house. We like to line trashcans with them, and avoid having to buy plastic liners.
- Reuse egg cartons- the cardboard ones only! I find that any kind of decent eggs from the store always come in the cardboard cartons, so if you are sourcing good eggs, you shouldn’t have to deal with the sytrofoam ones anyway. The cardboard cartons make fabulous fire starters, and you can also start seedlings in them!
- If you have a wood stove, save any paper products (un-coated junk mail, small pieces of cardboard, or used scrap paper) to be burned.
- Ditch the toxic dryer sheets. You can replace them with reusable wool dryer balls, or you may find you don’t need anything at all in your dryer!
- If you are brave enough, and your partner/spouse is on board, give family cloth a try!
- Use mason jars and glass “tupperware” to store leftovers instead of plastic containers.
- Buy food in bulk, and use mason jars instead of the plastic bags usually provided.
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper.
- Wrap food or dishes in this easy DIY cloth “plastic wrap” replacement.
- Use dinner plates to cover bowls. I find that a standard dinner place fits perfectly over most mixing bowls, and salad plates fit over soup bowls.
- Use old rags in place of paper towels. We always use a hand towel to dry our hands, a dish cloth to wipe counters, (these both are replaced daily) and an oily cloth for wiping down our cast iron after we clean and dry it.
- Cook your food from scratch, and very few disposable food containers will make their way into your kitchen.
- Garden and preserve your harvest! Also, put your food scraps into the compost pile!
- Use wax sandwich bags, or stainless steel containers for sending in lunch boxes. Some schools won’t allow glass to be sent to school, and most kids are pretty rough on their lunch boxes, so glass can be iffy anyway!
- Use glass bottles, and stainless steel or glass sippy cups for babies.
- Acquire a collection of stainless steel straws. Trust me, kids LOVE all the different sizes and shapes that are available!
- Use silicone smoothie/yogurt holders and ditch the plastic go-gurt tubes!
- Silicone muffin tins and mold require zero paper or plastic liners, and pop out your muffins, homemade jello, and homemade “Reese’s” cups like a dream!
- For the coffee lovers, there are very inexpensive reusable mesh coffee filter
reusable mesh coffee filters for your usual coffee maker, or you can use a glass french press or a stove stop espresso maker that require no paper filters! Personally, I am a french press lover.
- Having a set of real dishes and silverware is a bit of an investment, but it will pay off in the long run, and keep you from having to use toxic and wasteful disposable tableware.
- Invest in some naturally non-stick cookware like enameled or regular cast iron, and stoneware dishes. Coat with a thin layer of healthy fat before baking, (lard, butter, coconut oil, etc…) and it will eliminate the need for lining with foil or wax paper.
- If you must use plastic ziplock bags (see my dilemma here!), wash and reuse them until they leak, or fall apart.
- Make your own detergent’s and cleaners, and store them in glass bottles and jars. Before I started making my own apple cider vinegar, I saved all the glass bottles that ACV usually comes in. Most sprayer lids from plastic spray bottles will screw right on the top of the glass bottles! That is how I store my homemade cleaners now.
Our freezer is where we are still running into a bit of a plastic dilemma. When we butcher our pigs in the fall, we plan to use a non-toxic butcher paper to wrap all of the meat. I’m still figuring out a plan for the chickens we butcher though, and our frozen garden veggies still reside in quart and gallon zip lock bags. 🙁
These are ALL things we do every single day in our house, (well, except for the family cloth 🙂 ) and they have become easy habits that we don’t even think about anymore.
What tips and tricks do you do to reduce household waste?
This post has been shared at Thrifty Thursday, Friday Favorites, Tuesdays With a Twist, The Homestead Blog Hop, Down Home Blog Hop, The Home Acre Hop, Simple Lives, The Pin Junkie, Freedom Fridays, From the Farm Hop, Old Fashioned Fridays, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Wildcrafting Wednesday, and The Art of Homemaking.