100 Ways to Reduce Household Waste and Help the Environment

This Thursday, April 22, is Earth Day! In time for it, I’ve put together a list of 100 ways you can reduce household waste, lower your environmental impact, and contribute positively to the earth.

100 Ways you can reduce household waste, lower your environmental impact, and contribute positively to the Earth

Do Our Individual Choices Matter?

In recent years, the environmental movement has shifted its focus away from our individual choices to look at how corporations drive climate change and how government policies shape environmental destruction. After all, there is only so much we can do at the individual level.

The solution to our environmental crisis lies in a new approach to organizing our economy and how we relate to one another. I’ve written about that here. Long story short, society must value people and the environment over the pursuit of corporate and private profit.

All that said, this shouldn’t discourage you from making changes for the better. Canada is one of the highest waste-producing countries in the world. On average, Canadians produce 673 kilograms of waste per year!1

There are plenty of things we can do to reduce our household waste and lower our environmental footprint. When we start making small changes, we might even inspire others to do the same.

100 Ways to Reduce Household Waste and Help the Environment

This list is divided into seven sections: kitchen, bathroom, laundry, pets, kids, out and about, and general. Some of the suggestions will be more attainable than others depending on your individual circumstances. The goal is to inspire you to make a few changes, not to stress you about the ones that are out of reach.

Kitchen

  1. Drink tap water
  2. Replace cling wrap for beeswax wraps
  3. Buy organic
  4. Ditch single use coffee pods
  5. Cook more often to reduce takeout waste
  6. Compost kitchen scraps
  7. Avoid purchasing vegetables and fruits that are wrapped in plastic
  8. Reuse glass jars
  9. Bake your own bread
  10. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables
  11. Preserve foods (freeze, ferment, can)
  12. Switch to metal straws
  13. Make your own sauces, dips, and dressings
  14. Choose dish scrubbers made from natural materials over plastic
  15. Re-purpose food containers (jars, cans, etc.)
  16. Eat your leftovers
  17. Turn meat and vegetable scraps into broth
  18. Replace paper towels with rags
  19. Make your own cleaning products
  20. Buy loose leaf tea over bagged
  21. Avoid packaged foods
  22. Choose wood utensils over plastic
  23. Swap plastic bags for reusable grocery bags
  24. Ditch single use zip-lock bags for reusable bags and containers
  25. Introduce meat free days
  26. Store food properly to prevent waste

Bathroom

  1. Switch to bar shampoo and soap
  2. Take shorter and colder showers
  3. Invest in menstrual cups, reusable pads, and/or period underwear
  4. Ditch cotton swabs
  5. Choose unbleached and recycled toilet paper
  6. Use soap as your shaving cream
  7. Switch to wooden toothbrushes
  8. Use up extra bath and body products before buying new
  9. Ditch hairspray or reduce usage
  10. Use bath towels more than once
  11. Switch toothpaste for tablets or powders

Laundry

  1. Stop using dryer sheets
  2. Try laundry detergents that don’t use plastic packaging
  3. Hang your clothes to dry
  4. Mend worn clothing
  5. Wash clothes in cold water
  6. Follow washing instructions to make clothes last longer
  7. Use old clothing as rags or DIY them into new items
  8. Embrace a minimalist wardrobe

Out and About

  1. Bring your own cutlery and resealable food packaging when eating out
  2. Take the bus, commute, or ride a bike
  3. Pick up garbage at your local park
  4. Organize a park clean-up
  5. Volunteer at a community garden

Pets

  1. Reduce plastic toys
  2. Swap packaged dog treats for homemade
  3. Use eco-friendly cat litre
  4. Keep your cat indoors or on leash
  5. Pick up your dog’s waste

Kids

  1. Try cloth diapers
  2. Minimize plastic toys
  3. Make your own baby food
  4. Don’t overbuy for baby
  5. Get kids to craft with items around the home
  6. Use cloths instead of disposable wipes

General

  1. Go solar
  2. Turn off and unplug
  3. Find books at your local library
  4. Rent or borrow equipment that you don’t regularly use
  5. Switch to digital subscriptions for magazines
  6. Ditch air fresheners
  7. Reduce air travel
  8. Switch to LED light bulbs
  9. Buy used
  10. Say no to free items like product merchandise
  11. Take care of your belongings
  12. Exchange books, puzzles, clothes, and board games with friends
  13. Switch to digital billing
  14. Repair broken items
  15. Choose rechargeable batteries
  16. Buy local
  17. Take the bus
  18. Refuse junk mail – here’s how (for those living in Canada)
  19. Unsubscribe from mailing lists to reduce consumption
  20. Say no to fast fashion
  21. Recycle your Christmas tree
  22. Minimize holiday decor
  23. Re-gift items you won’t use
  24. Donate or sell old clothes, books, and toys
  25. Properly dispose of batteries and paint
  26. Choose local travel over international
  27. Embrace minimalism
  28. Re-use wrapping paper

Garden

  1. Reuse egg cartons as seed trays
  2. Grow your own herbs and vegetables
  3. Grow drought resistant plants
  4. Avoid pesticides and herbicides
  5. Give away or preserve extra produce
  6. Install a water barrel
  7. Remove invasive plants from your garden
  8. Save seeds and share them with friends
  9. Avoid buying plastic pots and reuse those you have
  10. Make a bat or bird house
  11. Use untreated lumber for garden beds
  12. Plant local wildflowers for pollinators
  13. Plant a wildlife garden
  14. Don’t grow a lawn or grow native grasses

Do Your Best and Support Political Efforts for Collective Change

I hope this list inspires you to do what you can to reduce your household footprint. Ultimately, it is the social, political, and economic circumstances that shape the future of the planet. It is going to take a colossal societal effort to turn things around. So, vote with the environment in mind, write your local government representatives, support projects for environmental justice, and understand the importance of Indigenous reconciliation.

Before you go…

Do you have any tips to reduce household waste and improve our environmental footprint? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Other posts you may enjoy

Environmental Destruction: Individual vs. Collective Action

Eco-Friendly Camping Tips

Leave No Trace: The Benefits and Problems

Sources

1 Levon Sevunts. 2019. “Canada among worst waste-producing countries: study.” CBC.

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