21 practical ways to quickly reduce waste in your home

by Agatha Green

The waste crisis on our planet is a fact. There’s plastic everywhere we look.

A massive 91% of plastic is NOT recycled.

Should you worry?


But there are ways you can reduce waste in your home fast.

Start your journey today!

Don’t waste your opportunity to reduce waste in your home

Fast fashion, take away meals and drinks, plastic packaging, food waste, you name it.

There are loads.


And there is not enough knowledge and awareness in our society to tackle this problem.

We consume way more than we used to, and we want everything fast. That comes at a high price for the environment, for us, our health, and the well-being of future generations.

Yes, for humans and generations of those sweet, fluffy, little cute animals too.

Take responsibility for your own choices, and reduce waste in your home

We all like to play the blame game now and then. But this one is serious. And the longer we deny to accept the facts, the higher the stakes and stacks of the non-recyclable rubbish.

It is our individual responsibility to do deal with it.

  • We use 50% of the plastic once and throw away.
  • Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade.
  • 91% of plastic IS NOT recycled!

Plastic waste is not the only issue we have, but one of the most difficult ones to deal with. It’s one of the most used and cheapest materials in the world today. You can find it anywhere, and if something is not made from plastic it’s often packed in plastic.

We like to think that many of the items we use are recyclable. The harsh truth is that we can only recycle about 9% of plastic globally.

Plastic started growing in popularity in the 1960s. But it has not been around for long enough to know how long it will take to decompose. Scientists, estimate on average from 400 to 1.000 years.

The Our World in Data website presents many interesting facts about plastic pollution.

How to manage and reduce waste in your home

Take responsibility for your own waste management.

That is the least we can do to help our environment. We need to act to sustain healthier living conditions for us and generations to come.

  • What you do matters.
  • It has an impact.
  • And it’s important.

There is a lot of information available online and offline. And I understand it can be confusing at times. So, the most important thing is to make small but significant changes. With time these changes will become a natural part of our lifestyles.

There are many ways to reduce our waste footprint. For example, we all buy food and drink, and we all consume it. So, why not tackle the basics first?

Get inspired and start reducing your waste today! Become an ambassador of your own clean and sustainable home.

Learn also how to get rid of visual clutter and increase productivity.

1. Stop buying stuff to reduce waste in your home

It might sound obvious, but does it? Did you know that while we are consuming goods, we are creating a demand for them? The minute you scan and pay for the granola bar (packed in non-recyclable plastic wrap), you trigger the whole cycle. The cycle of producing, packing, transporting, handling, merchandising, selling, and consuming goods. Be honest with yourself. Do you need all this stuff? Check your needs versus wants. Your choice matters!

2. Bring reusable shopping bags

Plastic bags are the second most problematic item to deal with. They rank second, right behind the plastic bottles. I hear that people often forget to take their reusable bags for shopping. It is a habit. It gets easier with time, you will not even have to think about them. You will grab them. So, to start with, have one or two with you at all times. Put them in your purse, car, pockets, whatever works for you.

3. Avoid food packed in plastic

Unfortunately, many food items come in plastic packaging these days. Longer shelf life, easier handling, and transportation are only a few perks. There are many things like fruit and vegetables that do not need any wrapping at all. So, I chose to get them from shops where they are available “au naturel”.

4. Shop at local food markets, stores, and greengrocers

Local food markets and greengrocers usually sell fresh produce without plastic wrapping. Also, food cooperatives often focus on less waste approach. Why not buy there in bulk?

5. Get biodegradable and reusable bags for bulk items

Swap single-use plastic bags for biodegradable and reusable alternatives. Cotton, mesh, and string bags are great for fruits, vegetables, nuts, and so much more! You can use them to stoor food in your fridge or pantry. They’re so light that you won’t notice the difference comparing to plastic bags. You can get them online or make your own. Get creative! Make it a habit to bring them with you every time you go shopping.

6. Stop eating processed food

Get rid of processed packaged food from your life for good. You will waste less, become healthier, save money, and the environment. You can swap all these items for healthier homemade versions and have some fun!

  • Microwave ready meals
  • Peeled/cut vegetables and fruit
  • Pre-cooked grains
  • Cakes, popsicles, candy, granola bars, etc.
  • Crisps (potato chips), popcorn, etc.

7. Stop eating fast food

Fast food creates massive amounts of waste. It’s also bad for your health. There’s been so much said about it, yet many still chose it for convenience.

Did you know that we cannot recycle pizza boxes? The paper fibers in the cardboard get soiled with grease. That prevents separation during the pulping process, so they end up in the landfill.

8. Avoid single-use items

Avoid single-use items as much as you can. Especially plastic. I know it’s easier said than done in Times of Coronavirus, but if we’re mindful, we can limit the use.

These are the most popular food and drink-related items.

  • Bottles
  • Plastics bags
  • Cutlery
  • Plates, bowls
  • Cups
  • Straws
  • Sticks

The reusable, biodegradable, and multi-purpose alternatives exist. Use them.

9. Have your own alternatives ready

Avoiding single-use items is important. And it’s much easier and fun when you know your reusable versions. These are stainless steel forks, spoons, straws, and food containers. You can use them at home, work, and when you’re out and about.

Glass jars are great for storage, transportation, and bulk item refills. Do you know any more uses for them? They can become glasses, vases, flowerpots, pencil stands, and much more!

10. Take away food to your own containers

If you can’t live without the takeaways, try this swap. Start bringing your own food containers to avoid single-use plastic and styrofoam. It’s important to reduce waste in your home and in public places too.

11. Plan meals to minimize food waste

Meal planning can go a long way to reduce your food waste. It also brings the health benefits of regular eating. Spend 15 minutes each week to plan your meals. Then shop based on your meal plan.

12. Make your own food

Acquiring cooking skills and knowledge has never been easier than today. There are many great cookbooks, online recipes, instructional videos, and cooking classes. The possibilities are endless.

Cooking from scratch can be easy and fun. Some tools and machines will make that process easier. Together with meal planning and mindful food shopping, you will reduce waste in your home.

Learn to cook and start making your own food. Involve your partner, children, and friends!

13. Make friends with your freezer

You can keep leftovers, and use them to create your lunch box for work or school. And if you’re not going to use the leftover fruit, veg, or a whole meal the next day or two – freeze it. Most foods, including soups and stews, are great for freezing.

I’m a huge fan of batch cooking and freezing my homemade food. I love to use it on rush days or when I don’t feel like spending too much time in the kitchen.

14. Prep your own lunch box

Taking your own homemade lunch to work or school is super easy and doesn’t need a lot of effort. It doesn’t have to be boring either. Mix ingredients, and you might discover combinations you’ve never tried before. Take dinner leftovers, fruit, veg, nuts, salads, all that is great. You can also prepare something quick but special. Get creative!

15. Say no to bottled water

Plastic bottles will take about 400-500 years to break down. And together with plastic bags, they are the most accumulating garbage polluting our planet.

Drink tap water!

And if you don’t have access to quality water, you can get a good filter and still drink from the tap. And if you cannot live without a little bit of sparkle, get a sparkling water maker. They’re also called carbonators.

16. Say yes to reusable water bottle

If you tend to forget or don’t want to carry it all the time, have more than one located in different places. The variety of reusable water bottles is so vast that I’m sure you will find something you like. There are bottles in different shapes, colors, and made of various materials to suit all needs.

17. Fight soda addiction

Fight your soda addiction. If you have one, that is. Your body needs water, not water mixed with sugar and artificial flavors. Fizzy and sweet drinks often come in plastic bottles, cans, or other single-use containers like a plastic pouch or tetra pack. For your health and the planet’s sake don’t drink any of it.

18. Make your drinks at home

Coffee, tea, smoothie, or flavored water – you can make all these drinks at home and bring them with you in a travel mug or flask. It does not just save money but helps to reduce waste in your home and outside it too.

19. Bring reusable mug for your daily coffee

A reusable travel mug is so versatile. You can carry hot and cold drinks in it. Be it a homemade tea, coffee, cocoa, or a smoothie. I have a friend who brings a homemade soup in it for lunch. That’s great and creative! I used it for takeaway ice-cream once. Or twice 😉

Until the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many coffee shops accepted refillable coffee cups from their customers. Currently, due to potential contamination, this practice has stopped in some places. Nobody can predict how long it will last. So, for now, I will refer to the previous point.

20. Grow your own herbs

Some of the local stores and greengrocers sell cut herbs such as dill, parsley, or coriander. Meaning you don’t bring a plastic pot and the wrapping home. If you don’t have access to fresh-cut herbs, try growing your own herbs at home. There are seeds and organic kits available to buy in many places. It’s relaxing and fun!

21. Try growing your own fruit and veg

Having your own garden makes it super easy and convenient to grow some fruit and veg. And if you live in an apartment without a balcony, a window sill will do. Try something small and easy like cherry tomatoes or mini carrots.

Bonus tip – Reduce waste in your home and spread the word

Speak with your family, friends, and coworkers about ways of reducing waste in your homes. You can share tips and exchange ideas!

You, my dear reader, can make a difference! All it takes is one small step at a time. Inspire others! Share your ideas in the comment below.

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