8 Easy Ways To Go Low Waste In Your Home (That Also Save Money!)
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Are you trying to reduce your waste, go low-waste or even sero waste, or just be more mindful? Then I have a few easy and cheap ideas for you.
Don’t worry, this post is not going to be all preachy about waste and calling on you to become a minimalist.
That’s not easy or cheap.
But I do want to point out some facts on waste just for some perspective.
The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year.
We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year. If we composted that food, it would reduce the same amount of greenhouse gas as taking 2 million cars off the road.
Americans throw away about 28 billion bottles and jars every year.
The average office worker uses over 500 paper cups per year.
The amount of waste generated has tripled since 1960.
The United States has the highest amount of waste generated per person of any country at an average of 4.6 pounds per day.
Plastic bottles put into the landfill will take thousands of years to decompose since they are shielded from sunlight.
In the Pacific Ocean, there is a “Plastic Island” twice the size of Texas that was created by dumping waste into the ocean.
U.S. landfills released an estimated 148 million metric tons (163 million tons) of CO2 equivalent to the atmosphere in 2014 alone.
A glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as few as 30 days.
Clearly, trash in an issue. We live in world full of convenience and consumables without even thinking about their long term effects.
That said, sometimes you NEED convenience. And sometimes you NEED consumables. That’s ok.
But there are plenty of opportunities to reduce your waste which also happen to save money.
Here are my top 8 easy ways to go low waste in your home.
switch to Cloth napkins
Cloth napkins are such an easy option. You buy them once, and they last for years. I bought this set of 12 cloth napkins 5 years ago that still have many years to go before they need to be replaced.
I keep the napkins in a small basket by the dining table, and toss the used ones into another small basket in the opposite corner. Whenever I do laundry, which is a few times a week, I walk by and grab whatever napkins are in the dirty basket and toss them into the wash with the load I was doing. This way it’s not extra laundry and there’s always clean napkins. If you have a larger family just buy a few more to last a bit longer between washings.
Think about the savings in cost. Say a pack of 100 napkins costs around $2. In a year I would spend around $72 to have enough napkins for the 3 of us. A pack of 12 cotton napkins costs around $25 and lasts years. And if you’re crafty, you could even make your own.
use Cloth wipes instead of paper towels
This is another easy, and possibly free option. I cut up old shirts and have taken my daughter’s wash cloths from when she was a baby to use as wipes and rags. I still buy paper towels for certain uses, but they last much longer because I use the cloth wipes for everyday cleaning and spills.
I have 13 wipes so that I can use a different one every day and have a few extra. Just like with the cloth napkins, at the end of each day I toss the wipe I had been using into the dirty napkins basket so that it gets washed in the next load I do.
Paper towels are even more expensive than napkins so the savings are bigger here.
Use your dinnerware on a daily basis
Save the disposable plates and silverware for parties and gatherings, when you don’t want to wash a bunch of dishes.
On a daily basis, stick to your regular dinnerware. I used to use paper plates daily because I REALLY hate doing the dishes but I have a dishwasher and a helpful husband so it’s a small sacrifice. I run the dishwasher every few days once it’s full and wash whatever doesn’t fit.
But you can bet that when we have company, those paper plates come out. The point is to reduce your daily waste, not perfection.
Again, using less disposable tableware saves you lots of money over time.
Think before you dump any food scraps
Remember that quote about all the food we throw away? You can save veggie scraps to make broth, any random small amounts of food can make a snack on another day, give the leftovers to your pet, or you can compost for a garden.
One good idea is to freeze small veggie scraps and leftover bones and make a broth out of them when you have enough piled up. Then freeze the broth in small portions to have ready to use at any time.
I freeze my broth in an ice cube tray then pop them into a bag or container and place in the freezer. With this you can save money by not having to buy broth anymore.
use reusable Travel cups and bottles
Travel cups are so easy now with all the options we have. Just choose one that you know you will easily carry around and that washes easily.
I have one travel coffee cup and a large water bottle. My daughter also has a reusable water bottle that she takes to school. I try to stay away from plastic and stick with stainless steel, but that’s a personal choice.
This is my favorite travel coffee cup. It keeps my coffee warm for hours and has a lock so it doesn’t spill. It’s also stainless steel which is a bonus.
For water bottles, I really like Hydro Flask bottles because they have great quality, a good warranty, and good customer service. They are pricier than other water bottle brands though. Klean Kanteen is another great, more affordable option, and that’s what I use for my daughter.
Buy in bulk
If you can, buy some things in bulk. This saves money and packaging, especially if you can take your own containers and fill them up yourself.
I have not found a place to do that near me but I hear it’s gaining popularity. Things you can buy in bulk include dry foods, personal care products, office supplies, and cleaning supplies.
Switch to a Safety razor
I started using a safety razor 2 years ago and I can’t believe I waited so long! Not only is it better for the environment, but they are also so much better than regular razors, and you SAVE SO MUCH MONEY! Seriously, these will last many, many years and replacement blades only cost around $0.20! 20 cents!!! I couldn’t believe that when I saw it. I always hated spending $2-3 per replacement cartridge for crappy razors.
My husband and I both use this safety razor. I also purchased a bag razor blade variety pack and we have used up maybe 40 in 4 years. So far I have saved over $400 by switching to a safety razor. There is a bit of a learning curve but just read up a little before using one.
This one might seem obvious but I have spoken to a lot of people who don’t recycle. Check with your local waste management to see what you can recycle in your curbside program. I used to think it was all glass, plastic, paper, and cans, but it’s not that simple. I was surprised to learn that grocery bags are NOT recyclable.
My recycling bin always fills up before the trash bin does (and we have the extra large one). We recycle everything we can – bottles, cans, jars, boxes, paper, packaging, etc.
You can also reuse certain items yourself. I like to save glass bottles and jars to use as storage. I usually remove the stickers and run them through the dishwasher then use them to store liquids or dry goods. I started doing this because glass food storage is so expensive.
So those are my top 8 easy ways to go low waste and save money.
You can also check out this post on 40 ways to use less plastic.
I want to challenge you to be more observant of your trash. Notice how many products you use in plastic packaging that does not get reused. After a while you might come up with some solutions that work for your family and lifestyle to help minimize your waste.
And remember that it’s not an all or nothing approach. A little bit here and there does make a difference.
Have you tried any of these ideas to reduce your waste? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Check out these other clean living posts:
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Great information! There’s only 2 of us in our home and my husband is always complains about the amount of trash we have! We recently moved to a farm and have no garbage disposal. As soon as we get chickens and pigs all scraps will go to them. Thank you for the information.
Great plan! I don’t have any animals to give my scraps to. Thanks for reading 🙂
Very sobering information about the waste in our country. Working in retail, I see the amount of perfectly good stuff being thrown in the dumpster. It’s a travesty. I am more committed then ever to do my little part to reduce the waste. Thanks for the tips as well!
Oh I have heard of all the waste in retail but have not seen it myself. Seems so ridiculous that it can’t be donated.
I love this! The less we use, the less we waste! I am going to have to try a safety razor. Never even considered it and I am pretty green! Also, I’d love to chat about maybe doing a collaborative post one of these days. xo, Jess
Yes try it! And I’d love to collab on something in the future 🙂
Love all your suggestions! I feel like a rock star, we do many of them already 🙂 When you make a point of noticing what you are putting in the trash can, it really can be eye-opening. A few years ago I really started to think about it when I was grocery shopping and it’s amazing to me how much comes unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. Awareness is the first step.
Yes when shopping I get a bit irritated by the excess packaging but there’s not much I can do about that at the moment. Thanks for reading 🙂
Out of convenience people choose paper over reusable but it comes at a cost to our environment. Thanks for pointing that out. Also, watch what scraps you give to Fido as people food is really not meant for canine consumption.
Good point Kim. Thanks for reading 🙂
I love this article! I will definitely be doing some of these things in my household 🙂
These are great suggestions! We implement almost all of these. I still make a concession and use paper plates almost every day- for one meal. We have a family of 10 and even with using paper plates for one meal, we still run the dishwasher 1-2 times a day, and wash a lot by hand. Oy! But I’ve loved going to cloth napkins and wipes and buying in bulk. Saves money and time!
Paper plates for 10 people is probably good for your sanity though. Good on you for doing what you can 🙂
Excellent tips and suggestions. I, for one, always look for ways to reduce our waste, and reuse what I can. Your post actually gives me some great ideas! 😊👍🏻
Glad it helped 🙂
The napkins idea is great. My husband uses napkins and paper towels like it’s his job. I think the paper towels will be harder for him but we can certainly cut back on napkin usage this way. Thanks!
Haha my husband was the same! He’s gotten much better now and actually, cloth napkins are much bigger so he only uses one.
Great work on this post. I like the economic and the green argument. We use cloth napkins with silver napkin rings because they are more elegant. Thanks for the reminder that less is more.
Thanks for reading Verla 🙂
Great ideas! It’s amazing how much trash we generate.
I love this!We were on a vacation once and I remember thinking that the staff must think us Americans are so wasteful and thoughtless with our trash! We try really hard to be conscience of our waste. Great post! And I am definitely looking into that safety razor. It looks a bit intimidating!
Definitely read up or watch a video before using. The first time I had nicks all over my leg.
Great tips and quite eye opening. We try to be less wasteful, but it’s tough sometimes. I have cloth napkins but only use them for decorations…oops haha
Haha that’s what I used to think they were for.
Reduce, reuse, recycle! On it!! 😘
Great tips! We used cloth diapers and cloth wipes with our kids instead of disposables. Better for the environment and better for their little tushies. And I carry a stainless steel or glass water bottle around with me everywhere. Sometimes we use napkins/paper towels, but for the most part we use wash cloths for kitchen spills as well.
We also did cloth diapers with my daughter. Thanks for reading 🙂
These tips are great! I really love the tips about using cloth napkins and your dinnerware every day!
I just passed our trash and recycle bins overflowing in the kitchen is a very timely and sobering reminder for me. Thank you for that! And that safety razor looks amazing!
Our family contributes to the waste! The post was needed! Safety razors are genius!
I know it’s not always easy. Hopefully this helped give you some good ideas.
The razor idea is something I need to look into. We are already doing most thanks to my husband being very eco-conscious. We cloth diapered when the babies were little and any leftover flats are now cleaning rags which have lasted almost 10 years. We definitely buy in bulk which has reduced our trash and recycling. If you haven’t heard of UNFI check them out. You can join buying clubs and get things like 25 pounds of dried beans. We have garbanzo and black plus oats and lentils stored in large bins. Even get our organic peanut butter in 5-pound tubs. The one thing I am focussed on right now is limiting food waste. If we buy fresh produce we need to eat it.
I have not heard of this so will check them out. Thanks. And we also cloth diapered which was so “crazy” to everyone around us haha.
I gave up paper towels about 15 years ago and when I tell people I don’t use them they are shocked. They can’t understand how I live without them. I don’t find it as dramatic as other people do.
Haha that was the easiest change for us. A towel just works so much better. I don’t see what the big deal is either.
Great suggestions! I can’t believe how much trash we accumulate over the day! Crazy!
It really is crazy. Thanks for reading 🙂
This is brilliant. I’m putting these to use immediately.
These are great tips. I was just talking to my husband about wanting to start reducing our waste. I will have him read this. Thanks!
I do pretty well with using my dishes often, but the rags instead of paper towels is a good idea. I could get better at doing that! Thank you for the tips and motivation.
Great ideas! Eliminating paper towels is the most difficult one for me.
That was actually the easiest for us. The plates was the hardest because we hate doing the dishes so much!
Loving these ideas (and love your blog name)! We’re also looking to reduce and recycle as much as we can at home.
great tips! We follow most of these in our home as well!