Our consumer-driven society is one that results in a great deal of waste. From food waste to packaging to disposable items, there are a lot of resources being used by humans. This consumption of resources — and the waste it produces — is not sustainable. Nor is it healthy.
You can reduce the amount of waste you contribute to the problem with a little planning and creativity. Here are 7 ways you can reduce household waste (and maybe even save a little money):
1. Shop with a List
If you find yourself throwing out a lot of food, you can remedy the problem by shopping with a list. Create a meal plan for the week, and base your grocery shopping list on what you will actually eat during the week. A meal plan can be one of the best ways to avoid last-minute takeout runs, as well as ensure that you have a way to use the food you buy.
2. Preserve Some of Your Food
Another way to prevent waste is to preserve some of your food. If you decide to buy in bulk as a way to save money, you can preserve some of that food for later. I regularly freeze grated cheese and other items for later, rather than wait for it to spoil. You can also freeze homemade meals, including soups, casseroles and other items. Rather than throwing out the excess, you can save it for a later meal.
3. Pay Attention to Packaging
Some items come with more packaging than they need. Pay attention to that when you buy. Whenever possible, consider items that don’t have excess packaging. One solution is to buy things loose. In many localities, it’s possible to find stores that allow you to bring your own packaging. You can bring a mason jar to fill with natural peanut butter or honey. It’s possible to bring your own bags for bulk food items in a lot of cases. Buying loose can be a good way to avoid increasing the waste you need to dispose of.
4. Take Care of Your Things
If you take care of what you already have, you won’t need to make as many purchases. From taking good care of your car, to properly caring for your clothing, to keeping your appliances in working order, taking care of what you already have helps it last longer. You won’t need to make as many trips to the store if you make it a point to maintain what you already have.
5. Find Ways to Re-Use as Much As You Can
Growing up, my re-used T-shirts as dust rags and other cleaning supplies. You can do the same. Look for ways to re-use what you already have. There are numerous items that can be used in a container garden. You can re-use newspapers and other items as garden mulch. Compost kitchen waste to feed your garden. Turn old towels into bags that can be taken to the grocery store. With a little creativity, you can re-use a number of items. Plus, re-usable cleaning items like sponges and rags reduce your need for paper towels.
6. Buy Used
Whenever you buy new, you are using up resources. You can reduce waste in general when you buy used. Before you get rid of items that are still in usable condition, consider trying to sell them, or give them to a thrift store. Your clutter might be just what someone else needs, and there’s no reason to add another item of waste to the dump.
7. When Buying Electronics, Choose Rechargeable Items
It’s best if you can avoid buying batteries that need to be thrown out. When possible, choose items with rechargeable batteries. Whether it’s an electronic device that you can plug in to the wall or your computer, or whether it’s batteries you can take out and recharge, do what you can to avoid new batteries.
When you do have to throw out batteries or electronics, find out where you can dispose of them in a way that allows for a level of recycling, and keeps chemicals from polluting the environment.
One of the best ways to reduce your waste, though, is to avoiding buying as much stuff in the first place. Conscious spending can go a long way toward helping you reduce the amount of waste you produce.
Great tips Miranda. I try to take care of my things for that reason alone but feel like I need to keep on my wife for that. As far as the rechargeable items, I only have a power drill that qualifies but I do try to buy rechargeable batteries to eliminate the need to buy batteries. Batteries never seem to last as long as advertised, plus they are getting more expensive.
I love this list. One of the things I like best about buying things used is that they don’t come with all the packaging. Especially those annoying plastic containers/cases that are almost impossible to get items out of without injuring yourself.
Great post, Miranda! Would love to see more of your thoughts on how to re-use certain items specifically.
Thank you for these tips … they’re excellent! I especially like #4 … many people seem to believe that they have to have the newest of everything. That mentality creates so much waste. We truly need to differentiate between “needs” and “wants”.
Great post Miranda! We really need to learn how to take care of our environment and reducing household waste is one way to do it! One of the things that gives me lots of worries is when I throw away things that could really harm our environment like batteries which could really be toxic, now I realized that I just need to get rechargeable ones which even though won ‘t last forever, It will help to lessen the damage.
Very informative article. As my share of reducing household waste, I use PET bottles, tin cans, and egg trays as seedling pots. I also put the fruits and vegetable peelings on my compost pit. It is not only good for our environment but also healthier for my herbs and garden!
These are really great tips! I didn’t even think of some of these. Thank you!!
Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts. Reducing household waste is great because it helps you reduce your impact on the environment, and practicing these tips can also save you money. Bonus!
About number 2. I have found that if I freeze soup or stew made with potatoes, the potatoes aren’t fit to eat when they’re reheated. Besides tasting bad, they get this disgusting mushy texture. I have also found that turnips and rutabagas look and taste like potatoes in soups and stews–and survive the freezer nicely. Something to remember when you’re doing number 1!
Oh, and the grocery store is not the only place to resist the urge to buy on impulse. Lists can help everywhere.