Tips To Reduce Your Household Waste
Lets be honest, when you have children and a busy life in general, waste reduction and choosing the zero waste option all of the time can sometimes fall off the priority list especially when you go through those 'survive not thrive stages' I like to call them.
Often zero waste options can be seen as more work, more expense and less convenient. But I like to challenge this mis-conception and in fact go as far as saying living zero waste is actually a lot of the time easier, cheaper and more convenient. Once you have your zero waste routines in place they are not only much better for the environment, they are good for us and are now just as easy, more convenient and a lot cheaper too.
To give you some ideas on really simple, maybe different, maybe not so different ways to help to reduce waste in your household I have put together some of the tips and ideas we use. Some of these may be new to you and some you may have been doing forever. Hopefully you find a few of them useful!
Fruit and Vegetable Waste
Our children eat a pretty decent amount of fruit and when I say eat I mean that is the loosest possible term. If I don't get a chance to cut up the fruit before they get one out of the fridge they nibble around the edges of whole pears and apples and leave pretty much most of the fruit with the core. Rather than throw these into the compost I keep a container in the fridge and when I get about 8-10 I juice them and add to green juices or juices for the kids. The pulp then gets given to the worms too which they love and get through incredibly quickly. If there is too much fruit on them, before I juice them I make our Healthy Fruit Crumble Recipe and then just juice the cores. The kids absolutely love this recipe and I love that it is so cheap and easy to make and they often have it for breakfast once its chilled and the coconut oil has gone crunchy.
We use a similar concept with our vegetable scraps. With our peels and scraps from ends I keep these in the fridge in a container. Then about every third week I use them to make up a big batch of vegetable and chicken bone broth.
Whenever we cook a whole roast chicken we strip all the meat off the chicken and then pop the frames into the freezer (just best to ensure you are using organic or at least free range chicken). When I have a couple of these they these go into the vegetable and bone broth too. Once the broth has done its thing and cooked in the slow cooker with a bit of apple cider vinegar for anywhere from 24-48hrs I then mash it all down to get the last liquids out of it and bury the veggies and soft bones in our garden to breakdown. These may break down better in our compost but I bury them to avoid any pests getting into them.
This has been a major for us and I seriously don't know what we would do if we didn't have a compost system. There are lots and lots of options for space restrictive composting like a Bokashi Bin, a simple garbage bin composting system or you can check out new apps popping up which connect people who have food scraps and people who have composting systems to take the excess of food waste. We compost nearly all of the paper and cardboard we receive in our house as well as the business too rather than recycle.
I always question whether any leftovers can go again. A good example of this is our kids eat oats in the morning. They are nothing fancy just quick oats, banana and water. Some mornings they eat them all up and some mornings there is half of them still sitting leftover. I simply pop these into the fridge and use them the following morning to cook up or add to a new batch. It means there is absolutely no waste to deal with and ensures we're not wasting money on uneaten food.
Similar concept with most food scraps and my tip is if you don't think you will eat it again that week then freeze it as it will last far longer.
Frozen Beans and Legumes
Rather than buying canned beans and legumes opt to use the dried versions instead. 9 times of out 10 these are more nutritious, cheaper and last longer once open or cooked. Simply boil up your bulk lot of chickpeas, lentils, beans or other legumes in water for a couple of hours and then divide up into portions and freeze in glass jars or reused plastic zip lock bags. They then are easy to grab when you need them for a recipe or in addition to a meal. You can also use the liquid from boiling as a broth to cook vegetables in or liquids for meals - just freeze in glass jars or ice cube trays to be able to access easily.
Plunger Coffee not Instant
I love a good coffee in the morning and one simple, easy way to eliminate plastic waste is by choosing plunger coffee or coffee beans over instant coffee. Not only is it normally less processed and better for you, it typically always comes in brown paper bags or can more easily be refilled. Plus the bonus is you can use the coffee grinds in your garden or compost.
Citrus Peel Vinegar Spray
A ridiculously simple way to get another round from your citrus peels is to soak them in vinegar in a big jar in the fridge and then after about 1-2 weeks depending on how much citrus you use you will have a delicious smelling, easy multi-purpose spray to use around your home. You can check out the full recipe for this here.
Replace Baby Wipes with Reusable Cloths
Baby wipes are often non bio-degradable and made with loads of plastic making them stay around for hundreds and hundreds of years after one single use. Instead of buying and using baby wipes simply cut up an old flannel sheet, towel or muslin wrap which are no longer able to be used into wipe size pieces of cloth. When you are at home use a little bucket of warm water and the wipes and when you venture out simply place the cloth wipes moist in a jar or reused plastic bag and you have wipes on the go. Wash and reuse over and over again. There is no need to buy baby wipes and using a nice warm cloth is so much nicer for your bub rather than a cold wipe.
Previous generations had it so right - reusing and washing a single nappy over and over again. Disposal nappies are just not logical - again we have let 'convenience' get in the way of our environment. I admit nowadays reusable nappies do seem like a big thing to get your head around but if you do your research, talk to other mums using them and try a couple of different brands you can get through the first 2 years of nappies with minimal impact on the environment. Even if you just use reusable nappies when you are around home this is having such a huge impact on reducing the amount of disposal nappies which are sent to landfill each and every second.
Get Rid of the Bin Liners
If you are composting then there isn't much need for a plastic bin liner in your rubbish bin anymore as it will get far less smelly. If you can't quite move to giving up the bin liner completely try to opt to line your bin with old newspaper to absorb any liquids and then after a few rounds this can be composted as a carbon source.
Remove your Landfill Rubbish Bin from Inside
This may seem like a big step for you if you are just starting out on your zero waste journey but if you are a little further along it may seem like the next step to helping reduce the landfill waste that you create even further. By simply moving your bin to a non accessible place you will start to use it less and become much more aware of the little bits of rubbish you need to throw out as they take individual trips to your outside rubbish bin. This will subconsciously help you make better decisions around waste when you are purchasing.
Living zero waste isn't complicated, inconvenient or uneasy - it's just different and at it's core living in a way where you aim to waste nothing. Which makes complete sense when you think about it right?