10 Steps To Reduce Waste in the Home
July 11, 2017 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on May 7, 2021
Starting a compost bin is one of the best things you can do for the environment. 25% of everything Americans throw out is compostable, and 16% of methane emissions are from organics unable to decompose in landfills.
Starting a backyard compost is easy. Even if you’re bad at composting, it’s better than not composting at all. Get my ultimate guide for starting a backyard compost.
If you aren’t up for the task see if you can bring it to a farmer at your farmers market, a community garden, or even a local composting service. Composting service typically doesn’t cost more than $20 a month.
Reusable bags are for more than just groceries! Use them for all of your purchases from the pet store to the home improvement store.
Before you leave your house, ask yourself if you’ll need a reusable bag*. If you’re on foot, look for a small foldable bag you can keep in your pocket* or on your keychain*.
If you’ll be driving, train yourself to keep your bags in your trunk. Get in the habit of putting them back in the trunk right after unloading them in the house that way no matter where you are – you’ll always be prepared.
stop junk mail:
Seriously. You don’t want it. The trees don’t want it. Nobody wants it. You can call places to stop it, use this website, or put a handy little sticker on your mailbox. It’s been the perfect thing to stop junk for me.
RELATED: Six Tips for Ditching Junk Mail
phase out single-use products:
Paper towels, tissues etc. Paper towels can be replaced with rags. Tissues can be replaced with handkerchiefs. Get my top 10 list of zero waste swaps here. And, make better choices when it comes to toilet paper.
I love my bidet attachment. It doesn’t eliminate toilet paper, but it has reduced our consumption by 60%!
RELATED: How I saved $12,000 by Ditching Single-Use Items
To avoid the plastic wrapping you can buy rolls wrapped in paper, preferably unbleached*. You can find this at an office supply store or Amazon.
diy cleaning products:
Make your own cleaning products. I have two recipes for simple all purpose cleaners I use all over the house. For more heavy duty jobs, check out my tub scrub recipe.
Or if you prefer to let a professional handle it, I can highly recommend Fillaree. There’s a great refill program to keep things zero waste.
diy beauty products:
Try your hand at making your own beauty products. It’s so simple to make mouthwash, toothpowder, even your own lotion! Even if you don’t want to DIY, you should look into switching to organic alternatives.
RELATED: Zero Waste Skin Care Alternatives for Those who Don’t DIY
I’ve struggled with my skin for a long time. I’ve tried Proactive, Arbonne, and Rodan+Fields, and they have all taken their toll and never resolved the problem. My skin started clearing up after I stopped using them. Now, I use a simple cleanser* and moisturize with this homemade vitamin e balm or this lotion*.
I also love to make my own face masks. Check out my clay mask and green tea mask.
Look for products that pull double duty. The fewer products you buy or make, the fewer ingredients you’ll need and the fewer resources you’ll use.
You don’t need something for each individual task. Why make eight different cleaners when one all-purpose cleaner will do most jobs? Why make 5 beauty products, when you can use one product for five uses?
For example, I love this vitamin e balm. You can use it to moisturize the ends of your hair, body lotion, lip balm, condition wooden spoons and cutting boards, as well as a makeup remover.
no bottled water:
Quit paying a 280,000% markup for bottled water. There are so many filter options available to you. Britta pitchers, soma, attachments to your sink, and charcoal sticks.
If you’re really lucky, the fridge does all the work for you. Many fridges have filtration systems already set up, just don’t forget to change out the filter once a year.
keep it real:
Keep it real around the dinner table. Use cloth napkins, real plates, and real cutlery. You eat three times a day. Which means you can make a huge impact with your choices three times a day.
Be a conscious consumer. Try to buy second hand. Try to buy things in the store without unnecessary packaging. Try to buy food from local farmers. Try to buy food in bulk without packaging. Try to avoid plastic.
Think about the before life and the afterlife of each product you bring into your life. How did it get to you and where is it going after you’re through with it.
With being a little more aware or your purchases and phasing out single-use products, you’ll reduce your waste by almost 80%!
Upcycle your trash can into a flower pot because you won’t be needing it much longer! How are you reducing your waste in the home?
RELATED: 10 Steps to Reduce your Waste at the Workplace
This post contains affiliate linking. It’s denoted with an asterisk. This means if you choose to purchase one of these items I will make a slight commission for referring you. You can read more on my disclosure page.
I’m introducing zero waste slowly into my life.
– I always buy 100% recycled toilet paper, wrapped in paper. I’ve been doing this for a long time, but found an even better way to do this… buying from an organisation that donates 50% of all profits to WaterAid.
– I do not drink bottled water. We have fantastic water quality in Australia. I used to buy sparkling water on occasion, but I now have a sodastream
Work in progress:
– Zero waste grocery shopping: I bring cloth bags, but still buy packaged goods.
That is awesome!!! You are doing a great job!! Depending on where you live it can be really difficult to buy some foods in bulk. And, if something is difficult or a chore, you’re less likely to do it. So keep it fun, and keep it up! Drop by with a progress report anytime! I love hearing about what you’re working on, together we can all make a huge impact!!
Such a great list! A huge part of producing less waste is just being aware of it. You are making a very good impact on people 🙂
Thank you! I couldn’t agree more. Once you realize how much waste there is you can’t un-see it.
Ugh – junk mail is the worst! We have a sign on our mailbox prohibiting it. It’s such a waste!!
Couldn’t agree more! It’s such nuisance! No, I would not like a credit card.. Thanks for making this info available for anyone else who’d like to sign up under my name…
Awesome ways to be more environmentally conscious! I took me forever to get used to using my own shopping bags. I remember almost every time now, but still haven’t mastered the amount to grab. I’m sometimes just one short.
That has happened to me once or twice! I have to come back and carry it all by hand, lol. I’ve also started keeping bags in the trunk. That way there always there!
Where can I find a sticker for my mailbox? I’ve handwritten & taped "no junk mail" to our mailbox but the weather keeps smudging it out.
Once source is my workplace: http://greenactioncentre.ca/reduce-your-waste/junk-mail/
Amazon has some good options but be sure to check local regulations for your post office what counts as "flyers" "unaddressed mail" and "junk mail" and what you can and can’t request through a sign to stop receiving. Get a good quality vinyl or metal sticker or adhesive thing. If you’ve got a community mailbox (apartment or on the street), you’ll need to put it INSIDE the mailbox so the carrier can see if when they open the whole section!
Great tip about the INSIDE of the mailbox!!
Organics actually make up more like 40-60% of waste! About 25% of waste would be compostable in a BACKYARD system but once meat, dairy, oils, and larger woody products are included (which can be composted in a large scale system), that number bumps up to around half.
I wish we had mandatory composting nation wide.
Hi Kathryn! I’ve nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. I searched high and low for people blogging about things that I care about (zero-waste lifestyles inclusive) and found you! Here are the details: https://raimeygallant.com/2017/07/12/imablogstar/ You’ll have to scroll down past the bit where I accept my nominations to find the brief write-up about your blog.
Thank you so much for nominating me, that’s very sweet!
A friend who is a postie tells me that the junk mail is delivered to her according to the number of houses in her run.She sorts into house lots.
If a house doesnt want any then they dont get it. BUT. Any left over it the end of the run goes into the bin. So not saving any trees or teducing landfill.?
Actually I know alot of companies are starting to reduce their print runs as more people place No Junkmail signs, so don’t give up! 🙂
If every person following this ten step automaticlly our problem I is sloved. I am following it for save the environment.This is serious problem for world. Very useful steps
My mother just recently moved into her new neighborhood, which is why she hasn’t found a garbage removal service yet that will be able to get rid of all of her trash. Well, I agree with you that waste could be managed by replacing those paper towels and tissues with rugs. Thank you for also educating me that charcoal sticks are a great way to filter the water, so it means that bottles of water could be eliminated. http://dependable-disposal.com/services/
it’s a great article that you put together! It’s a very complex and challenging topic for many pet owners that are trying to do good for the planet. As an owner of a plastic-free pet brand (called Boba&Vespa), I couldn’t pass by without chiming in about the biodegradable waste bags. Unfortunately, the “Earth Rated” bags that you mentioned are just another example of greenwashing and misleading in this industry. According to their site, their “green-colored bags contain an EPI additive which helps them to break down”. https://www.besttrashcanadvice.com/trash-can-for-dog-poop/
These additives are oxo-biodegradable plastic additives which are usually mixed with a conventional petroleum-based plastic in order to imitate biodegradation. Oxo-degradable plastics quickly break into smaller pieces (microplastics), but don’t break down at the molecular or polymer level like biodegradable and compostable plastics. The resulting microplastics are left in the environment indefinitely until they eventually fully break down (which cat take a very long time). I would highly recommend checking out “certified home compostable” poo bags and litter bags that don’t contain any planet harming plastics, and fossil fuel derivatives. I would be happy to send you a few samples of our bags along with the additional info about the certifications that we have, so you can see and feel the difference.