photo of a kitchen counter by becca tapert
Everyday Lifestyle

9 Easy Ways To Reduce Household Waste

Reducing household waste can seem like an inconvenience or something that requires specialized skills to do effectively. The truth is there are many ways to decrease the amount of refuse we accumulate and throw away that doesn’t require much prior planning or knowledge.

When we make a commitment to minimize what we buy, use and then discard, we’re taking action to help protect the environment. Landfill space, where the majority of our trash ends up, produces a significant amount of greenhouse gases as the garbage decomposes (mostly releasing methane and carbon dioxide but also several other gases) that contribute to the intensification of climate change and its effects.

By increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we’re amplifying the planet’s natural greenhouse effect and turning up the dial on global warming. | Greenhouse Effect 101 – NRDC

Landfills also produce a highly toxic liquid runoff (leachate) when snowmelt or rain passes through and collects the toxins released by decaying garbage. This can cause groundwater pollution that contaminates soil, streams, rivers and water supplies — so it’s abundantly clear that we must do what we can to reduce our household waste and protect the environment. Here are nine ideas that will help you do just that …

graphic link to an everyday lifestyle post on transatlantic notes called 9 easy ways to reduce household waste

Menu Plan | About one-third of all food that’s produced worldwide never gets eaten and ends up rotting away in landfills. From farming to manufacturing, and distribution to consumption, food waste occurs at every single stage; culminating in restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and households, etc throwing out uneaten produce. Discarded food in the U.S. is the largest category of material that’s found in refuse sites, so carefully planning our meals will help to reduce the amount of food we buy that ends up being unused and then thrown in the trash.

Reinventing Leftovers | Even with meal planning, there will be times when you end up with leftovers. Aside from making sure you actually get around to eating them, get into the habit of using them to make another mealbetter yet, create a menu plan that includes dishes you will use in a number of different ways throughout the week. Not only is this good for the environment, but it also helps your finances by reducing expenditure on food that ends up in the bin. Actively think about incorporating meal plans that include leftovers being made into soups, pies, casseroles, pasta bakes or fillings for something like quesadillas or baked potatoes, for example.

Reusable Food Storage | Ditch the wrap, foil and plastic bags and opt for items that can be washed and reused. Plastic containers are a good way to reduce single-use plastic, especially if the brand you’ve got will last a long time and is fully recyclable, but oven-safe glass versions (that come with plastic lids) are even better because you can use them as bakeware as well as food storage. Both plastic and glass containers stack well and can be freezer-safe and reheatable — just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when going from cold to hot, and vice versa, because some containers may crack, weaken or shatter.

photo of baked pasta in glass bakeware
Reusable storage: use glass bakeware with lids to cook, serve and store your food in

Create Compost | Instead of throwing your food scraps away, consider getting a kitchen countertop compost bin. They are really easy to use, require little effort and come in a range of prices and designs that will fit most budgets and kitchen decor. Use the compost you make to nurture soil and plants in your garden or alternatively if you don’t have an outside space, gift it to a friend or family member who does.

Make Some Stock | Vegetable scraps can be made into a delicious stock to use in soups, casseroles, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rice or meat/vegetable-based sauces, etc — and so much more.

Recycle | This is an obvious but really effective thing we can all do. If you’re lucky enough to be in an area that has curbside service, make good use of it. If you don’t have this available, use a designated kitchen bin just for recyclable items and take it to a local recycling facility when it’s full (some places may require you to presort your items).

photo of a person writing on a sheet of white paper at a desk by karolina grabowska
Reuse and recycle paper as much as you can — photo via Karolina Grabowska

Paperless Billing | Where it’s appropriate to do so, opt-out of receiving your bills through the post and go online instead (a lot of companies offer this service). Less paper being used will not only reduce paper waste but it’s also good for the environment by helping to conserve forests and trees.

Make Notebooks | If you still have some paper lying around that’s only been used or printed on one side, give it another lease of life before you recycle it and make it into a scrap notebook for shopping lists, to-do reminders or quick messages, etc. To make sure it remains 100% recyclable after you’ve finished using it, bind the notebook pages together without using glue, staples, clips or tape — a good example of how to do this can be found here.

Repurposed Rags | If your dusting or cleaning cloths can’t be machine washed and often end up in the trash after a few uses, create laundry-friendly, reusable alternatives by cutting up some old clothes (t-shirts are best but any soft fabric items will work if they don’t have buttons, zippers or studs that can scratch, etc). Lay the clothing on a cutting board/mat or similar, protected flat surface and then carefully cut the material into squares using scissors. They make great dusters/rags — or alternatives to paper towels — that can clean, polish, dust or wipe down most household items and surfaces really well.

Are you making an effort to reduce your household waste? What innovative, yet easy ways do you find to reuse, repurpose and recycle?


Further Info:

The Effects Of Landfills On The Environment — Sciencing

You’re Doing It Wrong: 7 Tips To Recycle Better — Earth Day

Fight Climate Change By Preventing Food Waste — World Wildlife Fund

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52 thoughts on “9 Easy Ways To Reduce Household Waste”

  1. I really enjoyed this post! You’ve provided many tips on how to make our environment less disposable and more sustainable. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I was so shocked too, and even looking at my own food waste (which we work really hard at keeping very low) was a wake up call. I just hope enough people make some simple changes as they will make a difference in the end. Thanks for reading!

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  2. These good tips. I can’t compost because I’m in an apartment building and while composting was piloted here, the city decided it wasn’t worth collecting our compost. I do a lot of the other ones already, but I did get a couple of new ideas.

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    1. I have started to really make use of scraps and it’s amazing how they can be turned into various stocks and bases for things or even compost. It really reduces our waste overall too so it’s been a step I’ve enjoyed doing. Thanks so much for reading!

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  3. Great tips! I already do most of these and they really are easy. A lot even save money in the long run. I love that you mentioned leftovers because I am the kind of person that won’t cook a new meal until my leftovers are gone. Or I take them in my lunch! Great post!

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  4. Great post! I’ve been thinking about the loads of papers in my desk and what to do with them. Making notebooks is an amazing idea! I’m going to do that one!! Thank you for such wonderful ideas!

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  5. This is such a great post. I have found recently my partner and I have been throwing a lot away and there are some great tips in here which will really help us. Thank you!

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  6. It’s funny that I stumbled upon this post. Tonight I repurposed leftovers from thanksgiving in my meal prep for this week. We had some chicken breasts and thighs leftover and I used it to create chicken chili soup and it was delicious. I am so happy I was able to repurpose the leftovers to reduce waste. I hate throwing out good food.

    xo Erica

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  7. This is a topic close to my heart! Great ideas here for reducing waste. I’d like to add a tip about making homemade soup stock – if you don’t have enough veggie scraps to make soup right away, collect them in a container in your freezer until you have enough for making a big pot of stock. Once your soup stock is made, it freezes well, too. It saves on waste and saves money!

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  8. This is exactly what I was looking for! will definitely start practicing some of these tips to reduce my overall household waste! Thanks for sharing

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  9. These are great tips! I shop for groceries for dinner almost daily & it does help reduce waste because I make sure to use any leftover ingredients from the previous meal the following day. Also, my city is great because they started having food waste containers & they gave out biodegradable bags to everyone so you can put any food waste in there & they’ll use it for biogas & fertilizer. Along with the food waste, they also expanded the recycling program & there is now glass, metal, paper & cardboard recycling everywhere.

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    1. Daily shopping or close to it is such a good idea as you just buy what you will actually eat. There is so much food waste these days — and I included myself as guilty with this — that something has to be done about it. Your city also sounds like it has really got it’s responsibility set straight. What great programs they are providing! This is what we need everywhere, if not exactly then just as much as can be done. I want to live in your city!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m always shocked by food waste stats. It’s amazing how reducing food waste can make such a big difference. I try to limit the grocieries I buy so that I can always see what’s in my fridge and it helps me waste less.

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