How to Drastically Reduce Your Household Trash

How to Drastically Reduce Your Household Trash

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My family generates a pint-sized garbage can per year, and you can too! Here are 100 tips to dramatically reduce your home waste. For Zero Waste alternatives, shop at home or at the local thrift store.

Before you start:

  • Arm yourself with a reusable water bottle, a couple grocery bags, a few cloth bags, reusable jars, and bottles.
  • Keep in mind my 5R methodology, as outlined in my book along the process: reject what you don't need, reduce what you need, reuse what you consume, recycle what you can't reject, reduce or reuse, and Rot (Compost ) Rest.


  • Welcome alternatives to disposables (paper towels, garbage bags, wax paper, aluminum foil, disposable plates, cups, etc.): Swap paper towels for reusable rags, swap sandwich bags for kitchen towels, or stainless steel containers, throw away garbage bags completely (wet waste is compostable anyway).
  • Buy in bulk or over the counter, bring reusable bags (dry goods), jars (wet items like meat, deli, fish, cheese, oil, peanut butter) and bottles (liquids: oil, soy sauce, shampoo, conditioner) .
  • If you can't find it in bulk, find a supplier (bring your jar to the ice cream shop, a pillowcase to the bakery for your bread, or your bottles to the winery / brewery) ... or do it (salad dressing, hot sauce, jams , hummus, crackers, canned tomatoes).
  • Shop at the farmer's market - the egg carton and berry baskets will be taken for reuse. Your veggies are most likely plastic and sticker free too.
  • Learn to love your tap water. Use bulk liquid castile soap as a dish / hand cleaner, baking soda as a scrubber (in a stainless Parmesan shaker) with a compostable cleaning brush.
  • Buy dishwasher detergent in bulk.
  • Turn your trash can into a great composter. Use your little compost bin as a trash can (on the market, the sizes of these seem reversed).
  • Reinvent your leftovers before they go bad.
  • Go through your recipe folder / box and only keep recipes that can be achieved with zero waste in mind.
  • Invest in a pressure cooker (halve cook time).
  • YOU CAN ALSO ... Reuse single-sided printed paper for grocery shopping and errand list, use lettuce cleaning water to water plants, open oven after winter baking (cool oven, warm home)


  • Use 100% recycled and unbleached toilet paper individually wrapped in paper (buy it at your local restaurant and hotel supply store and save big) or, if you are solar powered, you can install an electric sink on the toilet seat.
  • Use an alum stone or baking soda as a deodorant.
  • To shave, (re) use a safety razor and shaving soap (any soap will do but my favorite is Alep soap).
  • Fill your bottles with bulk shampoo and conditioner. Or better yet, forgo the conditioner and use the same solid soap that you use on your face and body to wash your hair.
  • If your hair is short, you also have the "no poo" option: rinse your hair, massage in the baking soda, then rinse with vinegar to add shine.
  • Instead of hairspray, switch to lemon water in a spray bottle (recipe in the book).
  • For more time between washes, substitute cornstarch (bulk) for dry shampoo.
  • For body / face soap, look for a solid soap without a packet. To exfoliate, use bulk baking soda.
  • For a mask, use bulk clays (French, kaolin, bentonite, etc.), mixed with water or apple cider vinegar.
  • Switch from toothpaste to baking soda, in a spice shaker.
  • Use a compostable wooden toothbrush.
  • Cut down on your cosmetics and consider homemade substitutes like cocoa powder as a homemade bronzer and balm that works on the eyes, lips, hair and nails and instead of disposable feminine products, invest in a reusable menstrual cup and liners (the cup is personally everything what I need) .
  • All you need for your nails is a nail clipper, a stainless steel file, and the homemade balm in my book for moisture and shine.
  • Forget the Q-tips, they are not good for you anyway.
  • YOU CAN ALSO… compost hair and nail clippings, put a brick in your toilet tank, scoop up water in a bucket while the shower heats and water your plants with it, and use zero cleaning residue: mold vinegar, baking soda sodium as a scrub, a mixture of baking soda and vinegar as a drain cleaner ...


  • Stick to minimal closets, shoes, and purses.
  • Only shop a few times a year to avoid compulsive shopping.
  • Buy only second-hand clothes. If you must buy a new one, buy a brand with an unconditional guarantee (like these socks or this umbrella).
  • Be relentless with the fit, if it fits you, you are more likely to wear it.
  • Bring a reusable bag for your purchases
  • Donate unused pieces.
  • Keep some of your worn out clothes for rags and label the rest as "rags" for Goodwill to recycle.
  • Learn some sewing tricks (like shortening a hem or darning).
  • YOU CAN ALSO… take it to the tailor for a better fit so you actually wear it, and have a handkerchief in your purse / bag…


  • Natural cleaning alternatives are welcome: castile soap on floors and sinks, white vinegar mix as a universal cleaner, baking soda for scrubbing jobs, and vinegar for mold.
  • Alternative household cleaning tools: a metal scourer on stainless steel, a wooden brush for light scrubbing, an old toothbrush for hard-to-reach places, and rags for everything else (counters, floor, refrigerator, mirrors, etc.)
  • Sweep your floors with a silk broom or boar bristle, wash them with a damp cloth attached to a mop and a few drops of castile soap.
  • Use worn and ragged clothing in unwashable messes (wax / auto grease / glue / caulk).
  • Buy dishwasher detergent in bulk and use white vinegar as a rinse aid.
  • Let the indoor plants soak up toxins and cleanse your air.
  • Open a window instead of plugging in an air freshener.
  • Washing clothes once a week saves time and energy costs from the dryer, use laundry detergent that is sold in bulk, full loads, and cold water cycles as much as possible.
  • Savon de Marseille, dishwasher detergent, chalk, lemon, or vinegar work great on stains.
  • Dry on a line when possible.
  • Iron less stuff and use a homemade starch in a stainless spray bottle (recipe in the book).
  • YOU CAN ALSO… use wool dryer balls, find a sustainable dry cleaner (one that offers a reusable laundry bag and non-toxic cleaners), compost dryer lint, and dust bunnies…


  • Remember to bring extra jars to the grocery store when shopping for a company (including takeout).
  • Make snacks for larger parties and consider serving tap water with lemon wedges instead of sparkling water.
  • Use glassware, ceramic plates, and cloth napkins at all times.
  • Avoid Using Serving Plates / Plates - By serving directly onto dinner plates, it simplifies, saves water from additional cleaning, and allows for a plate presentation.
  • Find creative ways to decorate your table with some napkin folding tricks, discarded leaves / twigs from the garden, or just seasonal fruit ...
  • Reuse empty votive tins (and wick base) to make new company votive candles using bulk beeswax and lead-free wick.
  • Bring a jar of homemade consumables, or your favorite Furoshiki-wrapped bulk item as a hostess gift.
  • Give an experience as a birthday present.
  • Educate your friends on your zero waste efforts (so they don't bring waste into your home)
  • YOU CAN ALSO ... bring your own container for leftovers when you go out to dinner, use rechargeable batteries for those remotes, try living without a TV for a while ...


  • Decline and therefore help stop the free pen / pencil giveaway craze.
  • Use refillable pens, piston fountain pens, mechanical pencils, refillable whiteboard markers, and donate additional stationery (paper, pencils) to your public school's art program.
  • Start your personal junk mail war, cancel your phone books and sign up for electronic bills and statements.
  • Reuse single-sided printed paper for printing or making notebooks with a metal clip, reuse spam response envelopes, and if you buy new paper, choose recycled and paper-packed.
  • Get rid of the trash can, strive to use your compost and recycling bins exclusively.
  • Use, reuse, and request recyclable paper packaging material when shipping (including paper tape), print postage and addresses directly on your envelopes, use surface mail, use return address stamp instead of stickers.
  • Reuse paper clips (available in bulk) instead of staples or a stapleless stapler.
  • Use your library for magazines and books, sell your books, or donate to your library for other people to enjoy.
  • Use the cloud instead of memory cards or external drives.
  • YOU CAN ALSO… use a power strip on your computer, refill your printer cartridges, make paper with double-sided printed paper, take the packaging material you receive to the local shipping center for reuse…


  • Keep only a minimal supply, so you can see what you have.
  • Ask your pharmacy to reuse your prescription bottle. It's illegal for pharmacies to recharge in CA, but your state may allow it.
  • Choose tablets (pain relievers, for example) in a glass or, by default, a plastic bottle (usually a recyclable # 2), rather than individually foil / plastic wrapped tablets.
  • Don't buy jumbo size medicine bottles, they expire long before you can finish them.
  • Choose metal pipes instead of plastic.
  • Invest in a Neti Pot - Great for cleaning your sinuses with just water and sea salt.
  • Consider some natural alternatives: a corn silk tea to soothe the prostate, a senna leaf tea to relieve constipation, or an oatmeal bath to soothe the skin.
  • Clean cuts and scrapes with soap and water.
  • Give up the plastic bandages and let it air dry.
  • Do not use antibacterial products for daily use, as they strengthen bad bacteria.
  • YOU CAN ALSO… reconsider your true need for vitamins (instead of a healthy and varied diet) and use sunscreen in moderation (you don't want skin cancer or vitamin D deficiency)…


  • Use native and drought tolerant plants, replace your lawn with short native grasses.
  • Make room for compost.
  • Consider a worm compost or an electric one if you live in an apartment, a separate pet compost for your dog's feces (how to do it in the book)
  • From time to time urinate on the base of your citrus plants, they will thrive.
  • Return the plastic containers to the nursery.
  • Find bulk seeds.
  • Give away plants and any garden items you no longer want. Post them on the free section of Craigslist or Freecycle.
  • Find a bulk garden center and fill reusable sandbags with soil, rocks, compost, etc.
  • Consider investing in an irrigation controller with a rainwater sensor.
  • Install storm and gray water catchments (check your city ordinances for the latest).
  • YOU CAN ALSO ... Keep a selection of quality, minimal tools made of metal and wood (which can be more easily repaired) ...

Video: 20 FREE zero waste swaps to save money u0026 the planet! low impact on a budget (July 2022).


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