Recently, a kiwi family filmed a short clip explaining how they are living waste-free, with a small jar holding all their rubbish for an entire month. While their lifestyle may not work for everyone, they show what’s possible when you consider carefully what you’re throwing away.
If zero-waste is a bit too extreme for you, how about halving it? Most of us can make a few simple changes that will drastically reduce the amount of rubbish we throw into landfill. Here are some tips to help you cut back on what you throw away.
Assess your waste
Your first step to eliminating half your waste is to figure out exactly what you’re throwing out. Once you understand the contents of your bin, you can find solutions to replacing the worst offenders.
Every household is different. Perhaps you eat a lot of takeaways, so that makes up a high proportion of your waste. Maybe you produce a lot of bathroom waste – sanitary products, lotions, makeup containers, etc. Are you throwing out a lot of food scraps? What about diapers? What about cleaning products or bits and pieces from hobbies?
Hunt out alternatives
Start with the biggest wins – for most people, this is in the kitchen or bathroom. Look into alternatives such as:
- Reusable takeout containers and coffee cups – you can keep a set at home, in the car, and at work.
- Glass or metal drinking straws.
- Reusable storage containers for putting leftovers in the fridge.
- Bulk-buying common raw food items (flour, sugar, oatmeal, nuts, etc) and storing them in reusable containers.
- Sturdy, reusable lunch boxes and bags, with beeswax sandwich wraps.
- Swapping shampoos and lotions for shampoo bars, bulk products, and sustainably-made beauty items packaged in recyclable materials.
- Making your own beauty and cleaning products.
- Refilling cleaning products (Ecostore containers can be refilled at local recycling centres and Ecostore retail stores).
- Swapping disposable sanitary products for period underwear or menstrual cups.
- Swapping disposable diapers for cloth diapers.
- Look for sustainable alternatives for plastic bags, reusable or biodegradable bags.
- Compost food scraps.
- Look for products such as toothbrushes that can be composted or recycled.
Many of these solutions will not only reduce waste but will save you money in the long-run.
Don’t blow the budget on every reusable alternative at once. Replace throwaway items only as they run out.
Recycle, upcycle, reuse, or donate
As much as possible, try to make throwing away something your absolute last resort. Can you reuse the item in your home? Would someone else still get use out of it if you donated it or sold it on TradeMe? Could you upcycle it in some way to make it into something else?
Small changes bring big rewards
You don’t have to up-end your life overnight. Small incremental changes over time will have a huge impact. Everyone’s journey is different, so be kind to yourself and focus on the positive changes, rather than beating yourself up for what you haven’t achieved. Any waste reduction is a good thing!
What are your top tips for eliminating waste in your home?