Skip to Content

20 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste at Home

20 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste at Home

There are plenty of ways you can reduce waste at home, and today I’ll be sharing things I’ve implemented into my own lifestyle!

I’ve always been somewhat environmentally conscious, but this past year I’ve been actively putting forth the effort to reduce my waste and go more green.

While I’m not cutting absolutely everything out of my life – I still use instant coffee packets – I’m trying my best as much as possible.

It’s important to note that every city does things differently when it comes to recycling and waste management, so do your own research as well.

For my Toronto friends, you can find out what goes where on the City of Toronto website, and for my York Region friends, you can find out on the York Region website.

Here are some simple ways on how to reduce waste at home!

1. Prepare your own sauces and dips

Instead of buying sauces and dips from the grocery store, try your hand at making things yourself.

This way, you can reduce the amount of single-use dips and plastic squeeze bottles you use!

Garlic aioli is super easy to make (mayo, garlic, lemon juice) and hummus is literally just chickpeas with olive oil and garlic.

An easy salad dressing I like to whip up is a blend of red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, mustard, and minced garlic, all ingredients I typically already have in my kitchen.

You can make a little more and store it in the fridge, but it ferments and turns sour after a day so I’d recommend just making it as you prepare your salad.

2. Consider packaging when buying groceries

Chop your own cabbage instead of buying the pre-cut bagged cabbage.

Buy garlic individually rather than in plastic netting.

Why You Need to Start Saving for Retirement in Your 20s

Obviously some things (like meat) can only come in plastic packaging, but why consume more than you need to if you don’t have to?

3. Use mesh produce bags when grocery shopping

Instead of constantly taking plastic bags to place your vegetables and fruits in, invest in some mesh produce bags!

They’re reusable, washable, and can last for a long time if you take proper care of them.

Some grocery stores take back plastic produce bags to recycle, but I do wonder if they actually recycle it or just toss it out.

Mesh produce bags

4. Make your own coffee at home

Takeout coffee cups go in the landfill, so instead of buying coffee outside, make your own coffee at home using a coffee tumbler.

Or, bring your coffee tumbler to the coffee shop!

Some cafés even offer discounts if you bring your own coffee tumblers.

If you can, use reusable coffee pods or filters.

5. Order less takeout and delivery

Try to eat less takeout and order in less.

Likely, these things will come in styrofoam containers or black plastic, alongside plastic cutlery wrapped in plastic packaging, all of which you’ll have to toss in the garbage.

When you do order takeout or delivery, ask for no cutlery and just use your own!

You’re either at home or able to bring your own reusable cutlery, so write in the instructions that you don’t need the extra utensils.

6. Drink Brita water

Who needs to go out and buy endless amounts of water bottles when you can just drink filtered water from your tap?

I’ve been drinking Brita water for as long as I can remember, and the Space Saver Pitcher is great for apartment and condo fridges.

I use mine to drink water, cook with, and fill my Keurig coffee machine. In my opinion, Brita water honestly just tastes way better.

7. Store food leftovers in reusable containers

It’s definitely easier to just throw on plastic wrap on top of your leftovers or store them in plastic zipper bags.

10 Tips on Having a Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Christmas

However, it’s worth the effort to put your leftovers into reusable containers instead!

When I prepare meals I know will have leftovers, I usually plate them in reusable containers so I don’t have to wash an extra plate or bowl.

Reusable plastic tupperware

8. Toss leftovers into a soup or stir fry

Do you have leftovers in your fridge on the verge of being tossed out?

Throw them into a soup or toss them into a stir fry!

Old rice, veggies, meat – all of it can be mixed together to create a delicious and easy dish.

Food is one of the biggest culprits of waste at home, and throwing all your leftovers into a dish helps to reduce that waste.

9. Make use of your compost

I’ve only begun to start composting because my condo building wasn’t sorting waste out before.

It’s crazy to see how much food waste I was throwing out in the landfill!

The City of Toronto turns compost into fuel for garbage trucks, and if that’s not enticing enough for you to want to compost, I don’t know what is.

If you garden, you can also use things like egg shells or coffee grounds to add nutrients.

I actually collect my egg shells for my parents to use in their garden!

10. Wash out your recyclables

Yes, it can be a hassle scrubbing out all the food waste in your cans and takeout containers.

But if you don’t spend that 30 seconds doing it, it ends up in the landfill for however long instead of recycling where it can be repurposed into something else.

One initiative I adore is Everlane’s ReNew line, which features clothing made out of recycled plastic water bottles, like this crewneck I’m wearing below.

Easy ways to reduce waste at home | best tips on reducing your waste | top waste reduction tips for everyday life | how to be more environmentally conscious | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Toronto lifestyle blog

11. Reuse and repurpose glass jars

It takes a lot more energy to recycle glass than plastic, so rinse out the glass and use it to store other foods or as plant jars.

Holiday Gift Guide for Her

I’ve reused both plastic and glass jars from food to store other food, skincare, and more!

Why buy more glass or plastic containers when you can just rinse out pasta sauce and jam jars?

12. Limit what you purchase online

Online shopping means more boxes, bubble wrap, tissue, and plastic out there.

As much as I love the convenience of shopping online, the last order I made of four packs of toilet paper and one Brita pitcher came in five separate boxes, and they all came on separate days.

Also a side note: you can request to Amazon’s customer service for your packages to be filled with recyclable paper instead of plastic bubble wrap!

13. Carry reusable tote bags to go shopping

When you’re doing your grocery shopping, clothes shopping, or any other type of shopping, bring along a reusable tote bag instead of getting plastic bags from stores.

If you know you’ll be doing a lot of shopping, bring five reusable tote bags.

And if you think you’ll forget them, leave them in your purse or in your trunk so you always have them on-hand!

It’s also best to shop in-store where you’ll just get the product itself, with no extra waste.

Obviously there are times where you’ll have to shop online (like if the store is only online lol), but it’s all about doing your best to reduce your waste as much as possible.

14. Avoid buying fast fashion

I understand the urge to constantly want the cutest new stuff, but as someone who very rarely buys new clothes, it’s possible.

Y’all see me re-wearing the same pieces over and over again in my outfit posts!

I’m guilty of having bought pieces from fast fashion stores that I’ve thrown out after a wear or two because of the low quality, and it just feels so unnecessary.

7 Canadian Clean Beauty Brands to Shop

While I’m still willing to buy a trendy piece I know I’ll wear dozens of times from a fast fashion store, I’m not going to buy clothes to only wear once.

I have a blog post all about how to make your wardrobe more sustainable!

15. Invest in higher quality pieces

By higher quality pieces, I don’t mean designer brands.

I’m talking about well-made pieces that will last you for years to come.

Higher prices don’t always mean better quality – my Guess and Levi’s jeans have lasted me longer than my Citizens or J Brand jeans, and they’re 2 or 3 times cheaper.

My point is, do your research and buy higher quality pieces that you won’t have to replace quickly.

16. Donate or sell your old clothing

Don’t toss out your old clothes – donate them to charities or sell them to other people on places like Bunz or Poshmark.

Feel free to use my code “JESSICAILAM” to save $15 on your first Poshmark order!

You can even host a clothing swap with your friends and trade clothing pieces!

17. Repair your broken items

One of the best ways to reduce waste at home is to repair anything that’s broken.

If superglue or a thread and needle can do the trick, try fixing it instead of tossing it!

There’s no reason to toss out a perfectly good item unless it’s completely destroyed beyond repair.

18. Stop using makeup wipes

I’m sure there are some biodegradable makeup wipes out there, but I prefer to have no waste at all because I tend to use a lot of makeup wipes or cotton pads.

I started using this Farmacy cleansing balm during our Arizona to Utah road trip (I don’t like to carry too many liquids when I travel), and I’m obsessed.

It does an amazing job of taking off all my makeup, and it’s waste-free!

17 Best Toronto Vintage Clothing Stores to Refresh Your Wardrobe

The Green Estate reusable makeup remover pads are also amazing, and you can use one side for makeup removal and one side for applying toner or essence.

It’s made of microfibre, which does an incredible job of removing makeup with just water!

Reusable microfiber makeup remover pads

19. Use non-disposable shaving products

Invest in a Braun Silk Epilator or Veet Beauty Styler that can be washed and reused instead of disposable razors.

If you take proper care of your epilator, it can last you for years!

20. Switch to paperless billing

Switching to paperless billing is one of the most low-effort and easiest ways to reduce waste at home.

We all have phones or computers and we can all look at our bills online – no need for any paper copies.

When you buy things in-store, say no to receipts if you can.

If the store offers email copies, ask for that instead!

Simple ways to reduce plastic waste at home!

There are tons more ways to reduce waste at home, but these are just some of the methods I’ve implemented into my own life.

You can’t be a perfect human being and cut out every possible amount of waste in your life, but you can try your best to reduce it as much as you can.

Even the smallest amount of effort makes the world of a difference.

What are your best tips on ways to reduce waste at home? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram!

P.S. if you liked this post, you might like this post on tips for making sustainable fashion choices, or any of my other posts on sustainable living.

Be sure to keep up with me on Instagram, TikTokTwitter, Facebook, and Pinterest if you aren’t already!

Feel free to subscribe to my weekly newsletter to get my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Jessica Lam | Toronto lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and travel blogger | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog

Trying to be more environmentally conscious? Here are some simple and easy ways to reduce waste and go more green in your home!

Jenn Summers

Sunday 7th of February 2021

This is such a great post with awesome ideas. I think that is so amazing that Toronto turns compost into fuel! How cool is that. Thanks for all the tips!