ByAmanda Hearn

Oct 16, 2015
Strategies for Reducing Waste Around the Home

Reducing waste is a great way to clean up your life physically, environmentally, and emotionally. Mix & match these tips to suit your needs and you’ll be breathing easier in no time.

Ditch the Plastic

In general, plastic items aren’t made to last. While plastic doesn’t break down and biodegrade, it does wear out, warp, become brittle, stain, etc. These things can cause you to need to toss or recycle them, only to replace them with the same product over again. Opting for glass, stainless, or wood (in most instances) will ensure that you’ve purchased a product meant to withstand time and use.


Preventing waste entirely takes real strategic thinking these days, but it can be done. Composting food and yard waste and using it on flower gardens, vegetable gardens, or your lawn is a great way to minimize your waste footprint around the home.

How to Create a Zero-Waste Kitchen
Composting, Image courtesy of Kirsty Hall

Save Gift Packaging

Not all wrapping paper can be saved, but it’s plenty easy to save gift bags and tissue paper. Keep them sorted in a tote or another bag for easy storage. Better yet — stop buying “stuff” and start buying experience gifts. Memories last longer anyway!

Switch to Cloth

A broad category here, but switching to cloth napkins, rags in place of paper towels, cloth diapers, and more can help you drastically reduce the amount of waste you’re putting out. Not only will these things reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll start saving big money in no time!

Buy Bulk Non-Packaged Items

One way to help reduce waste is to limit the amount of stuff you bring into your home, but what about the basics? Some stores offer you the option of shopping bulk. Instead of using their bags or plastic containers, you can simply bring your own! If you don’t have any, you can easily save some from food containers (like tubs of yogurt) to get you started. Nuts, seeds, grains, granola, cereal, dried fruits, and more can be purchased bulk.

Buy Bulk Pre-Packaged Items

You may not be able to avoid packaging in all things, but buying bigger can help you reduce packaging too. A large jar of coconut oil or detergent will likely use less materials than two, or even three smaller jars. As a bonus, you’ll probably save money per ounce and large jars and containers make great storage for food and household items when they’ve been emptied and cleaned.

Use Reusable Shopping & Produce Bags

One reusable grocery bag can hold 4x as much as a plastic bag (or more depending on the bag), and they’re stronger too. Less trips to and from the car is always a win in my book. Reusable produce bags can be bought in some stores, and there are adorable handmade options on Etsy!

Go Alternative on Menstrual Products

Have a period? Switching to a reusable cup or cloth pads can save you from both wasting money and exposure to toxins.

Wool dryer balls
Use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

Skip Dryer Sheets

Most are just a cocktail of skin irritants, and you really don’t need them anyhow. Switch to wool dryer balls, or simply use vinegar, if want softener — dryer balls will even help you reduce dry time (saving you more money!)

Try a Capsule Wardrobe

Having favorite items that you mix and match in your capsule wardrobe each season can keep you in style with less. You’ll save money, time, and you’ll live with less buyers’ remorse.

By Amanda Hearn

Best known as the voice behind The Eco Friendly Family blog, where I've been writing since 2009, about topics like parenting, cloth diapers, non-toxic menstrual care, chemical safety, & healthy living. I've also been part of the team behind Green Child Magazine since 2012. My family inspires my passion to be involved in the movement towards intuitive living, and all that it encompasses.