We all know that we should be doing our part to reduce waste and protect the environment, but where to start? One area where we can make a significant impact is in our own homes. By creating a low-waste home, we can reduce our carbon footprint, save money, and live a more sustainable lifestyle.
In this article, we will guide you through the steps you need to take to create a low-waste home. From reducing plastic use to composting food scraps, there are many small changes that you can make that will have a big impact on the planet.
So whether you're just starting out on your sustainability journey or looking for new ways to reduce waste in your home, read on for practical advice and inspiration on how to create a low-waste lifestyle.
Shop secondhand clothing
It is estimated that America generates over 11 million tons of textile waste alone. Secondhand clothing is a great way to reduce your contribution to this waste. Shopping secondhand has many benefits: it’s cheaper, it’s environmentally friendly, higher-quality brands are more affordable, and you can find unique pieces that are not available in stores.
Thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales, and online resale sites are all great places to find secondhand clothing. You may have to do a little hunting but people who love thrifting think it's worth it when you find something great.
Soap and detergent concentrates
Did you know that the ready-to-use liquid soaps and detergents you buy are mostly water? If you buy soap concentrates, you'll get the same cleaning effect with far less packaging.
Castille soap usually costs less than $20 per 32 oz bottle and can be used for many different purposes. Dilute it to fill your hand soap, shampoo, kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and dog shampoo bottles. The concentrated product means you'll use less packaging and will save money in the long run.
Instead of using the big measuring cup of laundry soap that comes with the bottle, you can use a fraction of the amount of concentrated laundry soap. This will leave less waste in the packaging and save you money, too. Since concentrated soap contains a higher concentration of the active ingredient, you may notice that your clothes come out cleaner.
For an extra layer of sustainability, opt for a concentrated detergent made with a biodegradable active ingredient and bottled in recycled material like Happy Elephant.
Reusable silicone zip bags
Reusable food storage bags are a great way to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen. Unlike traditional single-use zip bags, these bags are usually made of silicone and can be washed after each use. They come in all shapes and sizes, so you can have an array of sizes for various food storage needs. Remember to wash them out with soap and warm water, and to maximize their life, avoid letting your stored food go funky in the fridge.
Instead of using paper towels for cleaning and wiping, invest in washable kitchen towels. The thinner ones are more absorbent, and you can keep a few around that you use as rags for general cleaning tasks as well as bigger job like mopping up messes.
Beeswax food wraps
This reusable alternative to plastic wrap can be used to keep food fresh in the fridge or pantry, or even used in a lunchbox instead of plastic bags. It's made from organic cotton and beeswax, so you can just wipe it out when done and use it again.
Reusable grocery bags
Say goodbye to single-use plastic bags with reusable shopping bags made of cotton, canvas, mesh, or jute. Store them in your car to use whenever you go shopping and you'll find that they're so much easier to transport items home.
You can also get reusable produce bags made of lightweight netting. Even those thin produce bags can take decades or more to degrade, so skipping those keeps a lot of plastic out of the landfill over time.
They’re made of lightweight netting, so they don't add much to the by-weight cost of your produce.
Reusable water bottle
Whether it's for the gym, work, or a long hike, bring a reusable water bottle with you instead of buying plastic ones. Not only will it help you stay hydrated, but you'll also be reducing the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in landfills or oceans.
Save veggie scraps to make broth
Whenever you peel a carrot, cut the tough ends off of asparagus, snap the stems off of mushrooms, slip the skin off of an onion... add them to a freezer bag. When your freezer bag is full, simmer in a stock pot of water for a flavorful veggie broth.
To reduce your waste even further, strain and toss your scraps into the compost bin to fertilize your garden later.
Use rechargeable batteries
Rechargeable batteries are a great way to reduce waste. Disposable batteries contain harmful chemicals, and the casings are made of plastic that takes hundreds of years to degrade — or maybe not at all. Rechargeable batteries can be used hundreds of times before needing to be replaced, making them much more cost-effective in the long run.
Buy bulk when you can
Buying in bulk is an easy way to reduce waste. You can often find a wide range of products like grains, flour, nuts and seeds sold in bulk bins. Look for stores that offer paper or cotton bags for customers to fill with their desired items, eliminating the need for additional packaging.
Bonus: Use up your sugar as a body scrub!
Lastly, as you make the switch over to Monkfruit Sweetener, one eco friendly way to use up the last of your sugar is to make it into a DIY body scrub! Combine with your favorite oil and you're in for freshly exfoliated skin.
The Bottom Line
Sustainability can seem like a huge undertaking when you think of it in terms of saving the planet. But you don’t have to view it that way. Focus on your own footprint and what you can do in your own home. With a few easy swaps, you’ll make a bigger impact than you think. You won’t notice any inconvenience from switching to concentrated laundry detergent or rechargeable batteries, and the benefits will add up over the years. Sustainable living isn’t an “on” or “off” switch. Start small, and add practices as they make sense.
ReferencesIgini M. 10 Concerning Fast Fashion Waste Statistics. Earth.org, Aug 2 2022: https://earth.org/statistics-about-fast-fashion-waste