Is it really possible to reduce waste at home and save money? Each small step we take, every change we make will create a positive impact on our environment, our lives and the wider world.
One of our favourite quotes by Matt Bevin sums it up… “While it may seem small, the ripple effective of small things is extraordinary.”
Consider what sort of impact would be made if every person in the world did something small every single day. Collectively we’d make a big impact! Reducing waste at home may seem difficult and a big task at first but there are small things we can do around the home that will create less waste and the added benefit is that it can save you money too.
Here are our top five ideas to inspire you to make a change in your daily habits, and to reduce waste at home:
Become a Mindful Consumer
Your home is the best starting point because you can control what comes in and what goes out.
- When shopping for groceries and fresh produce take your own shopping bags.
- Kindly refuse plastic and buy produce that has not been packaged unnecessarily.
- Try to shop in bulk where possible to save money and normally less packaging.
- Plan meals each week to avoid food waste and you will realise very quickly how much money you have been throwing away.
- Opt for a reusable water bottle and get into the habit of taking it with you when you leave the house.
- Move away from plastic cling wrap and choose a beeswax wrap or reusable containers.
- Choose bamboo products over plastic which does not break down. This includes bamboo toothbrushes, clothes pegs, body brush and cotton buds.
- Read your news online rather than buying newspapers or magazines.
- Choose paperless bills by having them emailed to you where possible.
- When buying clothing or items for your home consider if you really need it. This also helps set up good savings ethics in young minds.
- If you are decluttering or clearing things out, think about donating items to those less fortunate.
You will lessen your carbon footprint by using reusable items or those that are biodegradable. You will also save money when you are not constantly replacing items after every use.
2. Get Composting and Enjoy Your Own Veggies
Compositing may be daunting but it probably not as involved or messy as you may think. It’s an ideal process in particular if you’re keen to grow your own veggies. It builds good soil structure, it allows soil to retain nutrients, water and air and protects plans from garden diseases. All soil types will improve with the addition of compost.
If you’d like to give it a go here are the basic steps…
- Start the compost pile on bare earth which will allow worms and organisms to aerate the compost.
- Lay twigs or straw for 10-15 cm to help drainage and aerate the compost.
- Lay compost materials in layers and alternate dry and moist ingredients. You will need to have a mix of carbon rich and nitrogen or protein rich matter to make the compost healthy and nutrient dense. Carbon rich compost items include branches, stems, dried leaves, peels, small pieces of wood, saw dust, brown paper bags, egg shells and straw. Protein rich matter includes food scraps, green lawn clippings, green leaves and manures.
- Keep your compost moist (not soaked) by adding water or allowing rain to enter so that it doesn’t dry out.
- Cover the compost with anything you have lying around – wood, plastic sheet or carpet. It helps to retain moisture and heat and keeps out too much rain.
- Turn the compost every 2 to 3 weeks with a shovel or pitch fork. This is needed to aerate the compost and keep it healthy. It is ready to use when it’s a dark rich colour, crumbles easily and has an earthy smell. This process can take 3 to 12 months to achieve.
Once it’s ready add it to you garden and get growing your own veggies. Plant seasonally and you’ll reap the rewards
of delicious, fresh veggies that you’ve grown yourself!
If you’re still not keen you can keep your food scraps in a container in the fridge or freezer and find a community composting location such as a community garden to contribute to.
3. Enjoy Fresh Produce all Year Around
Before modern conveniences were available there was canning, freezing, pickling and fermenting. These are the methods that have been around for centuries to keep food from spoiling and avoiding it going to waste.
If you’re growing your own veggies or fruit then you may find that you have an abundance of fresh item each season. Next time you have too much of anything consider how you can preserve it and use it at a later date when perhaps it’s not in season. Here are some examples…
- Most fruits can be frozen for smoothies or to use in baking (once thawed). Think bananas, berries, cherries, mango, melon, oranges, passion fruit, peaches and pineapple.
- Most vegetables can be blanched and frozen. These include green leafy vegetables, beans, broccoli, cabbage asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, parsnip, peas and corn.
- Veggies such as carrots, onions, garlic, shallots or celery that are wilted can still be used to create a vegetable stock that can be used fresh or frozen for when needed.
You’ll end up saving lots of money by not buying food and produce out of season and it will be just as fresh or tasty as though you’d just picked it. Best of all you will not be contributing to more environmental waste.
4. DIY Cleaning Products
This one is one we are incredibly passionate about. It astounds us that supermarkets and retail outlets are still allowed to sell toxic and harmful cleaning products. These toxic products contribute to indoor air pollution and medical conditions and are poisonous, just read the labels on their own packaging!
You can create your own effective home cleaning solutions that will be safe for adults, babies through to teens, your pets and the environment. Best of all you are likely to have most of the key ingredients in your pantry already. These include:
- White vinegar
- Bi-carb soda
You may also like to read more in our article, 10 Natural Home Cleaning Hacks, which provides great tips on cleaning almost every area of your home without the nasty, toxic chemicals. When you choose to stop buying expensive and toxic solutions you will quickly notice how much money you are saving! Not to mention the health benefits…
5. Conduct a Bin Inspection
Do you really take notice of how much you throw in the bin? Sometimes we think we are recycling, reusing and being responsible but we often don’t realise how much we are actually sending to landfill until we empty the contents of our bins.
Once a week empty the contents of your bin (including recycling bins) and see where you can make small changes to your habits to contribute less to landfill. Here are some ideas for your consideration….
- If you find take-away coffee cups in there then invest in a keep cup.
- Take-away containers can be replaced with reusable glass containers.
- Tissues and paper towels can be replaced with good old fashioned handkerchiefs or cleaning cloths.
- Disposable razors can be replaced with a good base and only purchase the replacement blade which is recyclable.
- Magazines and newspapers can be donated to local kindergartens which can be repurposed by creative little minds.
So there are our five tips to help you reduce waste at home and save money along the way. Best of all you can get the whole family involved. Buy less, waste less, save more! Create a ripple effect by starting in your home and community and watch the movement grow around our precious world.