In Australia, we generate a lot of waste. In 2016-17, we produced about 67 million tonnes of waste. That number is only going up, and the cost of food waste alone to the economy is estimated at $20 billion each year. We all need to take action. Thankfully, multiple Australian governments have committed to preparing a National Waste Policy and working together to better manage waste. But it’s not just governments that need to act; individual Australians also need to do their part to reduce, reuse and recycle. In this article, we will look at some of the best ways to reduce waste in your home and save money in the process!
Switch to Paperless Billing
One of the easiest ways to reduce paper waste is to switch to paperless billing for your utilities, phone, and other monthly bills. Many companies now offer this option, and it’s a great way to save a few trees (and some money on stamps). If you have existing stacks of paper bills, be sure to recycle the paper.
Invest in Reusable Containers
Another great way to reduce waste is to invest in reusable containers for your food. This could be anything from glass jars to Tupperware. Not only will this help to reduce the amount of plastic waste that you produce, but it can also save you money in the long run as you’ll be able to buy in bulk and avoid all those pesky single-use packaging fees.
Purchase Secondhand Clothes and Furniture
One of the best ways to reduce waste is by buying secondhand clothes and furniture instead of new items. This keeps perfectly good items out of landfill, and it’s often cheaper than buying brand-new items as well. Not to mention, who doesn’t enjoy a trip to local thrift stores? Win-win!
Start a compost bin
If you have a garden, then starting a compost bin is a great way to reduce your food waste. Simply add all your fruit and vegetable scraps, as well as eggshells, organic waste and coffee grounds, to the bin and let nature do its thing. You’ll end up with some lovely compost for your garden, and you’ll be reducing your waste at the same time. Your children may want to help with recycling and may even like turning the compost bin into a worm farm.
Buy a reusable coffee cup
If you’re a coffee lover, then buying a reusable coffee cup is a great way to reduce waste (and save money on those disposable cup surcharges). There are now many different types of reusable cups available, we’ve even seen a handy recyclable travel mug, so you can find one that suits your needs.
Buy a reusable drink bottle
Another great way to reduce waste is to invest in a reusable drink bottle. This will help to reduce the amount of plastic waste that you produce, and it can also save you money in the long run. There will be less packaging used and reusable drink containers are one of the first things people adopt when aiming for a zero waste lifestyle. Having a reusable water bottle also helps reduce the packaging waste that comes with buying multiple plastic bottles, including the plastic wrap used for those 24 packs of bottled water you see when doing your grocery shopping.
Use rechargeable batteries
If you use a lot of batteries, then switching to rechargeable batteries is a great way to reduce waste. Not only will you save money in the long run, but you’ll also be helping to reduce the amount of toxic waste that goes into landfill.
Use buy and sell groups on Facebook
If you need a particular item, chances are there’s a buy and sell group on Facebook for it. This is a great way to find what you’re looking for while also reducing waste, as you’ll be giving new life to an item that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Skip the squeeze pack
If you’re looking for a great way to eliminate plastic waste, then skipping the squeeze pack is a good place to start. These packs are often made of single-use plastic, and they can be really difficult to recycle. So next time you’re at the store, opt for the loose fruit and vegetables instead and if you need to store them look to use mason jars.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to avoid all those single-use packets which aren’t good for the environment. It’s also often cheaper in the long run. There is no doubt it will take some planning to begin with but longer term you will be doing good for both the environment and your wallet.
Use reusable bags for shopping
Reusable bags are a perfect way to help minimise plastic waste. These days there are all sorts of reusable plastic bags available, so you can find one that suits your needs with popular grocery stores like Woolworths and Coles selling their own branded versions for around 10 cents.
Bring your own container when eating out
If you’re eating out, don’t be afraid to bring your own container. This is a great way for reducing waste, and it can also save you money as you’ll be able to avoid those disposable container surcharges.
Avoid single-use items
One of the best ways to reduce waste is to avoid single-use items. This could be anything from straws to coffee cups. If you can avoid using these items, then you’ll be doing your bit to reduce waste. Victoria will be phasing out problematic single-use plastics. The ban includes:
- cotton buds
- drink stirrers
- food containers and cups made from expanded polystyrene
These single-use items often end up in our environment, harming wildlife, waterways and oceans.
Utilise your freezer
Your freezer is a great tool for reducing food waste. If you have leftover food that you know you won’t be able to eat before it goes off, then pop it in the freezer and save it for another day.
Plan your meals
One of the best ways to reduce food scraps is to plan your meals. This way you’ll only buy the ingredients that you need, and you won’t end up with any leftovers.
Make your own cleaning products
One of the best ways to reduce household waste is to make your own cleaning products. Once made, store them in your own containers, this way you’ll avoid all single-use packages, and you’ll also be able to control what goes into your cleaning products. Try and avoid using paper towels altogether, cleanable cloth napkins are better, or at a minimum use recycled paper.
Shop at local fruit stores
If you’re looking for a great way to reduce food scraps, then shopping at local fruit stores is a good place to start. This way you’ll be able to buy the exact amount of fruit that you need, and you won’t end up with any leftovers.
Avoid plastic straws
One of the best ways to reduce plastic waste is to avoid using straws. These days there are all sorts of reusable straws available, so you can find one that suits your needs. Metal straws are now used in restaurants and cafes.
Drink loose leaf tea
If you’re a tea lover, then drinking loose-leaf tea is a great way to reduce household waste. This way you’ll avoid those single-use tea bags (which are made of plastic), and you’ll also be able to control the amount of tea that you use.
Make your own beauty products
One of the best ways to reduce waste is to make your own beauty products. You can control what goes into your own mixture and also reduce the amount of packaging waste which is common in the beauty industry. HelloGiggles states “The easiest way to lower your environmental impact is to replace your single-use beauty products—things you use once and throw away, like makeup wipes, exfoliating pads, sheets masks, and cotton swabs—with sustainable alternatives. Like, you know, a washcloth (the OG makeup wipe). I love Silvon’s face towels, which are threaded with antimicrobial silver to keep bacteria from building up. Face masks that come in glass jars, like OSEA’s White Algae Mask, are considerably more eco-friendly than one-and-done sheet masks; and Singer even sells reusable “cotton swabs” at Package Free.”
Buy secondhand electronics
Buying secondhand electronics is a fantastic way to ensure electronic waste (also known as e waste) is minimised. It gives new life to an item that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Use public transport
If you need a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint, then using public transport is a good place to start. This way you’ll be reducing your reliance on fossil fuels, and you’ll also be reducing traffic congestion.
Bike or walk instead of driving
An excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint is to get on a bike or walk around your local area instead of driving. This way you’ll be reducing your reliance on fossil fuels, and you’ll also be getting some exercise.
Use silicone mats for cooking
An excellent way to reduce your use of single-use plastic is to use a silicone baking sheet for cooking. These mats can be used again and again, and they’ll help you to avoid using disposable baking paper or foil.
Reuse gift wrap
Reusing gift wrap is a sustainable way of reducing the amount of paper and/or cardboard waste that occurs, especially around Christmas time. This way you’ll be able to avoid using new paper or plastic, and you’ll also be able to save some money.
Grow your own vegetables
If you’re looking for an easy way to reduce your reliance on supermarkets, farmers markets or grocery stores, then growing your own vegetables is a good place to start. This way you’ll be able to get fresh produce without all the packaging, and you’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint. Given you can pick only what you need its only a great way to reduce food waste. You can even make it a fun activity for the kids by providing them with reusable produce bags and letting them pick the vegetables themselves.
There are many ways that we can reduce waste in our everyday lives. By following some of the tips we’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able to save money and help the environment. Whether you’re looking to reduce food scraps, plastic waste or electronic waste, there’s something here for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Start reducing your waste today!