How to Reduce Household Waste
If you’d like to reduce the amount of waste you produce at home, but you’re unsure where to start – or if you’re currently doing enough to make a real difference – then you’re not alone.
Let’s face it. Reducing household waste requires effort. You need to make key changes to both your lifestyle and shopping habits. This involves taking into account your daily needs, changing your routines at home, and switching to eco-friendly alternatives of existing products.
For these reasons, even with the best of intentions, you probably won’t see a complete transformation overnight.
On the plus side, with enough perseverance, these changes will help you save money, conserve resources, and reduce household pollution.
Here’s how to do it.
Tips to reduce household waste
Reduce physical mail
Tired of receiving unsolicited physical junk mail, along with physical letters, bills, and invoices?
First, place a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign or sticker on your letterbox.
Secondly, where possible, change your preferences to ‘receive only e-letters, bills, and other print material.’ This way, you’ll receive the material via email instead, and reduce the amount of paper waste sent to landfill.
If you have a lot of household waste, and nowhere to put it – or the time to wait for an annual hard waste collection service – then a skip bin is the perfect solution.
For starters, you can order a skip bin in sizes ranging from 2m3 to 23m3. This means you only pay as much as you need. Secondly, you can select the exact type of waste to dispose of, whether it green waste, concrete, rubble, or any other kind of material.
Finally, the skip bin is delivered straight to you, and collected at a later date. So you don’t have to leave the house, and you can have everything sorted in a single weekend. How’s that for convenience?
Limit single-use products
According to research from UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), about half of all plastics produced are designed to be used just once and then thrown away.
While the banning of single-use plastic bags and straws is a step in the right direction, more can be done. The key is to gradually phase out all single-use products in your household. These range from water bottles and takeaway containers, through to coffee cups, plastic dinnerware, cotton buds, and even balloons.
Below are some examples of eco-friendly alternatives to common household items:
- Bottles: Switch to reusable, stainless steel insulated water bottles.
- Coffee cups: Only purchase take-out coffee from cafes that use biodegradable cups. Or, even better, take a KeepCup coffee cup to work with you, and make your coffee at the office.
- Straws: Either, skip using a straw altogether, or invest in a pack of eco-friendly straws. These straws come in materials such as bamboo, stainless steel, glass, and wheat. Plus, they can be washed (simply use the provided straw cleaning brush) and reused multiple times.
- Shopping bags: Keep 2-3 reusable shopping bags in your vehicle at all times. This way, you don’t have to remember to grab them before you head out the door, and you’ll avoid having to buy more bags at the checkout.
- Cotton buds: Instead of using plastic cotton buds, either, switch to bamboo cotton buds and discard them in compost, or purchase a liquid ear wash product to keep your ears clean.
- Dinnerware: Do you often resort to plastic dinnerware during a party? Instead, use the plates, cutlery, and cups you already have at home. Or, if you’re worried about them being broken, switch to Palm Leaf Bio Dinnerware. These products are made from naturally shed palm sheaths, which require no trees to be cut down and they are naturally biodegradable.
Compost is your friend
Don’t throw organic waste like banana peels, broccoli stalks, and orange skin into the garbage.
Instead, start your own nutrient-rich compost pile at home. This will give your plants the fuel they need to grow, restore their vitality, and also retain soil moisture. Best of all? You’ll save money on fertilizer too.
To start, simply create a compost pile on bare earth. First, law down twigs and straw to help aerate the pile. Then add a combination of both dry and moist compost materials like food scraps, tea bags, saw dust, and wood ashes. Finally, add manure to the mix, and remember to keep the compost moist – simply add water, or let the rain do the work for you.
Donate, donate, donate
Got some old clothes, furniture, or tools you don’t need anymore? Donate them to your local opportunity shop (Op Shop).
Not only will you give these products a new lease on life, but also prevent them from ending up in landfill. Thus, you’re helping other people in need, and reducing the amount of household waste too!
Properly recycle e-waste
Unlike other recyclable goods, e-waste must be dropped off at designated points across Australia.
Common types of accepted e-waste, regardless of their age or brand, include:
- Laptops and notebooks
- Printers, faxes, and scanners
- Computer accessories – including peripherals (e.g. mice, keyboards, and web cameras)
Companies like Tech Collect, Drop Zone, and eCycle Solutions have set up drop-off points across various locations, such as Officeworks, Harvey Norman, The Good Guy, and Betta Electrical. All you have to do is bring your e-waste and drop it off at your nearest disposal location.
Depending on your state or territory, you may be able to dispose of your televisions and computer equipment during an annual hard rubbish collection as well.