The fun thing about reducing waste in your home is, that it’s easy. Especially when you are completely new at going zero waste. Because when you’re new at this, every small change makes a huge difference. And the basics are simple. All you need to do is replace the stuff you only use once with stuff you can use over and over. And you’ll reduce waste immediately.
At first, it may seem you spend more money that way. After all, cotton dishtowels are more expensive than a pack of paper ones. But if you’d add up all the times you buy paper towels, the numbers start to shift. In the long run, it’ll be cheaper to wash and reuse your cotton dishtowels.
Take a look at these 5 tips to reduce waste at your own home. They are easy ways that I’ve been using myself for years. Some may take a little getting use to, but you’ll be surprised how fast your new habits feel familiar. Prefer images? Go to the bottom of this article to watch the tips in a short video.
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1 Put a bunch of cotton wipes in your kitchen
When you spill your drink of have your tomato sauce drip of your pizza, you want your wipes. Instead of using paper ones, get some reusable ones. I like them in organic cotton, because that’s an eco-friendly material. And it absorbs well which I really want in a wipe.
To make this work you’ll need to get quite a few cotton wipes. If you spill some water on your counter top, it’s fine to simply hang your wipe out to dry and reuse it. But you and me both know things can really get messy when we start spilling. And that’s when you want to toss your wipe in the laundry basket and get yourself a clean one.
On average, I use one wipe a day, just for the regular spills. I have bigger ones for when the kitchen needs cleaning, so the wipes are really just for the smaller day to day stuff. How many cotton wipes you’ll need depends on your laundry routine. I made sure I have a nice pile of cotton wipes, just in case I’m not able to wash any for a week. But you can start with less if you wash more often.
2 Pack your lunch in containers
Sure, it’s convenient to put the sandwiches you made for lunch in a paper or plastic bag. But it doesn’t take any extra time or effort to put them in a lunch box or container. And there are some real pretty ones out there. I’m on a journey to a plastic-free lifestyle, so I prefer the stainless steel containers. But even if you choose plastic lunch boxes of containers, it’s still a big step up from throwing away so many paper or plastic bags.
I love the special containers with compartments that make it easy to keep your bread separate from your salad or fruit. There’s just something about a wet slice of bread that I simply can’t stand. If you’re anything like me, you want separate spaces for your food. Right?
Make sure you pick containers or lunch boxes with lids that close well. We don’t want anything dripping into our fancy bags now, do we?! You could also take a cotton wipe with you to clean your fingers and even your desk after you’re done eating.
Don’t like the weight or size of a lunch box or container? There are also reusable lunch bags for sale, like the ones from LunchSkins. Ideal for your kids to take to school. Especially because those lunch bags come in the most adorable patterns and colors. And when they get back home, you simply put those bags in the dishwasher. If you have that luxury. Otherwise, you can wash them by hand, together with your others dishes. I made a complete review on Lunchskins, so check it out if you like to know my personal experience with these reusable lunch bags.
3 Bring your own bags when shopping
This is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste. Get yourself a few big shoppers for your weekly groceries. Or make some out of old clothes you have lying around. Here’s a great instruction blog from Sew in Love where she explains how to make shopping bags out of old pillow cases. Pretty cool, right?!
I always keep a big shopping bag in the trunk of my car, just in case. If I happen to shop unexpectedly I just grab my bag and go. A few totes may do the trick as well. With some clever lines or sayings printed on them, you could even spread some joy and bring smiles on fellow shoppers faces. Just think of how many paper bags or small plastic bags you save when you do this. They add up to a lot of waste.
Off course, I’m not always on the road by car. When I’m on my bicycle or on foot I still have a grocery bag with me. I keep a tiny, but very strong, foldable bag in my purse. When you’re not by car, you’re not going to buy a huge amount of groceries anyway. So a small bag will do fine. I even got my husband to carry a foldable bag in the pocket of his coat. He uses it all the time.
4 Wear second hand clothes
It can be fun to update your wardrobe now and then. But you don’t have to buy new clothes, you could buy used clothes instead. They’ll still be new to you, right? Any old clothes that you no longer want, you can sell in garage sales or online. Or donate them to charity.
If they’re too worn out for anyone else to wear them, you could recycle them. Old clothes can become pillows, curtains or bags. Or whatever your imagination tells you. Check out recycle and upcycle ideas online. Maybe you’ll like it so much you found a new hobby. And if you don’t feel that creative yourself, you could drop your old clothes of at a recycling center. If you want more tips about greening up your wardrobe, check out this post about eco-friendly fashion.
5 Repair what you can
This one takes a bit more commitment: repair what’s broken. Just because something doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a new one. Many things are easy to fix or repair. I know there’s plenty of stuff that require technical skills and I recommend you don’t try to repair those yourself. Ask a technical person to help you instead. Or pay a repair shop to do it for you.
But small repairs often aren’t as hard as you might think. There are plenty of tutorials to be found online that can help you fix things. And if you succeed, you get that sense of accomplishment as a free bonus. Yay! Some areas have a Repair Café where volunteers help you with your repairs. You’ll learn a lot, reduce waste and save money all in one go. If you like a challenge, you’ll have fun learning new skills.
Just a few small changes make a big difference
With just a few minor changes you can really reduce waste in your home. A few pieces of cotton, a grocery bag and a new lunch box. Sometimes it’s as simple as that to make an impact. I’m on a journey myself, going plastic-free and in the long run hopefully even wasteless. But right now I’m still far from zero waste. And I think that’s fine.
We do what we can and what we feel comfortable with, don’t we? Less waste is good for our planet. If all of us do a little better, together we do a lot. One person can only do so much. But thousands of us really make a difference.
I’d love it if you try the steps I explained in this blog to reduce waste at your home. And I hope you find it as easy as I did. And as fulfilling, knowing you’re doing something for a better future. Be sure to let me know if you try a life with less waste. I’d love to hear how you’re doing, if it’s a struggle or fun and what it means to you.
Thank you so much! It’s always great to meet other green hearts and minds. Let’s both keep working on making a difference 🙂
Hi Bianca! I love your thoughts and tips on going ‘zero waste’! Excellent read!
I too have a green living blog and have talked about this topic! Love it! 🙂
Thanks for spreading awareness and providing your readers with such great tips! Keep up the great work!