Easy swaps to reduce your waste
Here are some ideas gathered during one of our workshops one easy ways to reduce our waste. This might feel overwhelming but even committing to one of these changes can make a huge difference in the amount of waste we consumer/produce.
Use reusable rags/cloths made from spent clothing & other textiles in place of paper towels for cleaning kitchen spills.
Make your own cleaning products with basic vinegar, baking soda, and castille soap! Find recipes here.
Buy sponges or wooden dish brushes that are hardy but also compostable or otherwise reusable
Compost your food scraps!
Use wax paper to wrap items (it's compostable)
Use Silicon bags instead of plastic ziplocs that can’t be easily reused.
Bring your reusable grocery bags with you to avoid paper or plastic bags at the store.
Make your bags easily accessible so that you can’t forget them, store them in your care or keep one in your purse/backpack!
Reuse jars from jellies, peanuts butters, etc. to store bulk food buys, yesterday’s leftovers, or tomorrow’s overnight oats.
Use vegetable scraps to make veggie broth
Check out our local resources pages to find stores that have bulk food near you.
Remember to bring smaller reusable cloth bags or reuse plastic bags to fill up on your bulk goodies zero-waste style!
Buy milk in glass containers that can be returned for a refund
Make your own items that are typically bought packaged: sauces, salsas, jams, tortillas, oat milk
buy loose leaf tea instead of tea bags
Get refillable detergents/dish soap from bulk stores
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK
Most places will let you buy cheese, breads, prepared foods, and meats zero-waste if you bring your own containers.
So, don’t be afraid to ask!
The best way to be in control of your waste is to cook your own food! Make cooking fun by trying new ingredients and techniques.
OR make cooking easy by making a big batch of food on Sundays to be eaten throughout the week.
Unfortunately, there are many food products that we love that do not come zero-waste. If you want to take your waste-goals to the next level try making your own xyz at home. For example, try making your own tortillas, hummus, chips, beans, nut milks, chai tea, guacamole, etc.
Grow your own herbs or other food at home
Avoid food waste at home by planning ahead. The most common item wasted at home is bread that goes moldy. If you know you will not finish your loaf of bread before the mold strives, slice it up and toss it in the freezer to enjoy at a later date.
Save leftovers and remember to eat them! Plan them into your next meals or bring them to work for lunch.
Vegetable scraps are also a source of waste that can be reused. Throw your scraps in a airtight container in the freezer and fill up the container over the course of a week. At the end of the week, toss all those yummy onion ends and potato skins in a big pot, fill with water, add salt, and let simmer for 2 hours. Enjoy this nutritious waste-free veggie broth for up to two weeks. I use it to make cabbage soups, ramen, and pasta sauce.
DON’T FORGET TO COMPOST!
Thrift or set up a clothing swap with friends before buying new clothes or getting rid of old items
Avoid clothing that is made of plastic fibers, these tend to send microplastics into the ocean while in the laundry.
Shop local! Buying clothes made by local artisans or other local companies are often made better and support the local economy. They are often more expensive for that reason but that’s why it’s great to thrift first!
Buy only things you love and need.
Turn ripped clothing into a DIY project like a hanging planter or use scraps to wrap gifts for friends.
Support your local clothing/shoe repair shop and send items there for repair before throwing them away.
Using a dryer uses 12% of a home's energy. Line dry if you can!
Use wool dryer balls (speeds up drying process, if you must use dryer)
Switch to natural bar soaps that are not packaged in plastic for all your body wash and hand washing needs.
Switch to bar shampoos/conditioners, make your own, or find a local shop that sells shampoos/conditioners in BULK! Check our local resources pages to find a bulk shop near you.
Avoid hair styling products and hair drying when possible to avoid plastic & energy usage, instead let your hair air dry and showcase its natural beauty!
Switch to a bamboo or recycled plastic toothbrush instead of one made from virgin plastic.
Make your own toothpaste with this recipe OR find toothpaste sold in tin (easy to recycle) here.
Switch to cotton floss to avoid plastic floss, place used floss in compost bin.
Switch to a menstrual cup to avoid waste from tampons and pads each month. Not all cups are made the same, you made need to try a few before you find one that feels comfortable for you. Do your research!
Buy reusable razors with changeable heads OR stop shaving and love your natural look.
Buy low-waste deodorant in glass containers OR make your own.
Find low-waste make-up alternatives that are safe for you and the environment.
Use reusable facial napkins/washcloths when removing make-up instead of one-use cotton balls that must be put in the landfill.
Try coconut oil or petroleum jelly as a low-waste make-up remover and save money!
Place both a recycling bin and a landfill bin in your bathroom to make recycling of toilet paper rolls and any plastic containers wicked easy.
ON THE GO
When on-the-go don’t forget the essentials for avoiding waste:
reusable water bottle
BONUS* bring your own food containers if you want to get take-out or know you will have leftovers after a meal in order to avoid plastic packaging at restaurants.
THE EXTRA STEPS
If you’re feeling really empowered use your voice and tell people what you want/don’t want and why you want to reduce your waste:
Ask restaurants not to include disposable utensils/napkins/plates when you get take-out and let them know why!
Skip bottled beverages and instead drink tap water or bring your own reusable bottle, and ask places to fill your water bottle/mug instead of a disposable cup.
Support restaurants that have compost and have none-to-minimal/reusable packaging and tell them that you love it!
Say no to FREEBIES that you know you won’t use or that you know you do not need. This avoids waste down stream.
Swaps for Kids:
Prepare snacks such as cut up fruit, mini pancakes, or brocolli on-the-go
Have your children eat what you eat (baby led weaning?)
Get second hand clothing and toys (EFJP, JP yard sale, and friends)
Use glass bottles rather than plastic