The homify guide to reducing your household waste

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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There’s a reason why the market refers to us humans as ‘consumers’, because that is what we do! From food and drink to fuel and toilet paper, we consume staggering amounts of products each and every day in order to keep rotating that circle of life. 

There’s nothing wrong with that, depending on how you manage the after-effect of your consuming. What do you do with that choclate bar wrapper after finishing it, or with that red wine bottle once it’s empty? Are you doing your part to lessen our carbon footprint, or are you one of those people who just cross their fingers and hope for the best? 

Putting a bit more thought into how you manage your household waste (from reducing and reusing to recycling and composting) can definitely make a positive impact on our environment. All it takes is a little thought and effort from your side (and everyone else’s, of course) to help solve the ever-growing problem of solid waste disposal.

Here on homify, we thought we’d get you started…

Reuse containers

Durable containers can be reused a number of times before they need to be considered garbage. If used properly, bottles, boxes, and bags can all serve a second purpose. 

Reuse that paper bag to hold your recyclables, should you not have a bin. And reuse paper by opting for documents that are printed double sided, or letting your children draw on the back of used paper. And you can use food-grade glass containers to store dry goods and leftovers, but just be sure that they didn’t contain anything toxic.

When it comes to plastic containers, one needs to be careful about reusing them too many times for storing food. They are fine to be kept for other storing purposes, like stationery, but even food-grade plastic can eventually break down and leach chemicals into food, so be vigilant.

Replace plastic bags with cloth ones

This might sound simple, but it can greatly reduce the amount of waste you bring into your house. Instead of accepting plastic bags from the grocery store (or any store, for that matter), rather take your own reusable cloth bag with you. 

Jump-start your ‘going green’ by purchasing several reusable bags and storing them somewhere easily accessible for your next shopping trip, such as your handbag, kitchen, or the boot of your car. 

But even if it slips your mind and you enter the store without your bag, you can still reduce waste. Ask the person bagging your groceries not to use double bags. Fortunately, most stores sell cloth bags, so you could just stock up on those instead of accepting plastic or paper – you can never have enough of those in the house, trust us!

And using cloth bags isn’t limited to shopping for groceries – use them when you go shopping for clothes, tools, makeup, or any other item.

Purchase less packaged food

It’s simple: buying food in boxes wrapped in plastic with individually wrapped serving sizes inside increases wastage. Rather opt for purchases that have minimal packaging, especially plastic, and you will definitely notice your daily use of garbage decreasing.  

We recommend using the bulk food section. You can purchase beans, cereals, rice, spices, teas, and other dry foods in the bulk section of your grocery store, and then simply store them in airtight glass- or plastic containers as soon as you get home. This will significantly decrease the use of waste, even if it’s only on your part (hey, it’s a drop in the bucket, but you never know who might follow your example).

Clutter, be gone! See our homify-approved tips for your: Kitchen Storage.

Decrease the use of bottled drinks

Pull out waste bins: modern Kitchen by Urban Myth
Urban Myth

Pull out waste bins

Urban Myth

It looks so classy when they do it in movies and TV series – taking a plastic bottle out of the fridge and sipping from it. Of course you want to try it out, too.

Please don’t, as bottled water and other bottled drinks are a major source of waste in many places. It is true that bottled water is safer to drink than tap water in some places, but if that is not the case in your area, then please opt for tap water. Should you dislike its taste, you can always filter the water. This is much more economical and better for the environment.

Should you want to go the extra mile, zone in on other bottled and canned drinks, too. For example, instead of buying a case of ginger ale (or lemonade), why not make your own? But we know that not everybody relishes the chance of brewing their own fizzy drinks, so should you prefer to buy them by the bottle, choose large containers instead of small ones. And rather buy a large water container with a dispenser instead of small six-pack ones.

Embrace the digital age

If you work with computers (which most of us do), then there are very few reasons why you still need to have piles of papers lying around your office. Most methods of working have become digitalised, cancelling out the need for paper filing, which is great news for us and the environment. The problem is that most people still opt for a lot of paper usage. 

Taking measures to reduce the amount of paper you buy (and print), as well as the amount of paper that gets sent to you in the mail, can definitely save you the trouble of having to sort through heaps of paper. 

Rather pay your bills online. Consider reading your news and favourite magazines online instead of having paper copies delivered to your house. And take appropriate measures to stop junk mail from flooding your inbox.

Don’t toss leftovers

It’s not necessary to throw out food scraps and yard cuttings as part of your rubbish removal; rather compost them and reuse them as rich, nutritious soil for your garden – or donate it to someone who will be able to use it for theirs. 

There are many different ways to compost. Some mixtures can include items like dairy and meat, while others are restricted to fruit and vegetable scraps. To kick-start your basic compost pile, save these items:  

• Green items, which break down quickly, like raw vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags, grass cutting, and leaves. 

• Brown items, which break down slowly, like branches and sticks, cardboard, eggshells, paper, and sawdust.

Are you going green? What other tips can you think of to lessen our carbon footprints? Share your ideas with us, below...
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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