Here’s How to Reduce Waste in Every Room in Your Home

Last Update: September 28, 2023

As you make your way through your home throughout the day, those little wasteful moments start to add up. You toss out a takeout container here, a pile of junk mail there; you use single-use plastic for your load of laundry and your shower routine; you may even leave the water running while you do the dishes or brush your teeth. 

This Earth Month, why not challenge yourself to reduce the waste in your daily routine? In this room-by-room guide, we’ll show you how to examine the things you do each day to live a more sustainable, low-waste lifestyle

Reduce Waste in the Kitchen 

  • Save water when washing dishes. If you’re washing dishes in the sink, don’t allow the water to run the whole time; instead, plug the sink to reuse water while cleaning, then give them a quick rinse. If you use a dishwasher, opt for the “eco” setting to conserve water.
  • Use bamboo cleaning tools. Replace plastic-laden dishwashing tools and scrub brushes with environmentally conscious alternatives made with bamboo and natural fibers.
  • Switch to sustainable cleaners. Replace traditional chemical cleaners with natural and plant-powered kitchen counter sprays, dishwashing liquids, and dishwasher detergent packs.
  • Replace cleaners with reusable containers. Better yet, nix the single-use cleaners entirely in favor of reusable plastic-free bottles and cleaning concentrates.
  • Start meal planning. Cut down on food waste by carefully planning your meals throughout the week, ensuring that you use up any fresh produce and make the most of your groceries.
  • Reuse your food scraps and leftovers. Instead of throwing out veggie peels and last night’s takeout, use them to make entirely new meals.
    A few ideas: These no-waste veggie burgers, a hearty stock made from veggie scraps, or these chicken tacos made from carrot peels and leftover chicken.
  • Commit to composting. Cut down on CO2 emissions in landfills by composting your food scraps instead of tossing them in the trash.
    Here’s how to get started: Composting 101: 10 Questions Answered
  • Freeze your leftovers. From fresh produce to make-ahead meals (and even butter), the freezer is your best friend when it comes to keeping food fresh for longer—and out of the landfill.
    Learn how to freeze just about anything: How to Prevent Freezer Burn

Reduce Waste in the Bathroom

  • Switch to package-free grooming products. From shampoo bars to reusable deodorant canisters, there are now package-free versions of just about all of your daily grooming essentials.
    Learn more: Best Sustainable Beauty Brands and Products
  • Replace plastic in your routine. If you can’t cut out the disposables entirely from your routine, you can make a big difference by replacing the plastic with materials that are gentler on the environment.
    Think: a wooden toothbrush, plastic-free dental floss, or a bamboo razor
  • Conserve water. Never let the water run while you’re brushing your teeth, and cut down on your morning shower routine to save gallons of water each day.
  • Switch to  sustainable toilet paper. Toilet paper is undoubtedly one of the most wasteful parts of any bathroom; clean yours up by switching to recycled toilet paper or bamboo toilet paper.
  • Clean up your cleaners. Instead of chemical-based cleaners for the sink, shower, and toilet, try plant- and mineral-based bathroom cleaners with gentler ingredients (and more sustainable packaging). 

Reduce Waste in the Bedroom 

  • Buy secondhand clothing. Secondhand clothing saves you money, but it also saves textiles from the landfill. Instead of heading to the mall when you need a closet refresh, download one of many clothing resale apps or hit your local thrift store.
  • Mend old clothes and shoes. Hole in your favorite sweater? Instead of tossing it out, have it mended. Mending and repairing shoes and clothes can extend their lifespan by many years.
  • Embrace hand-me-downs. Hand-me-downs aren’t just for children; everyone in your family can benefit from swapping and exchanging clothing. 

Reduce Waste in the Laundry Room 

  • Use plastic-free detergent. Zero-plastic laundry detergent sheets help to cut down on waste, as they come in recyclable paper packaging instead of plastic jugs.
  • Get rid of dryer sheets. Instead of single-use dryer sheets, use reusable wool dryer balls.
  • Opt for a quick wash. When you can, set the washing machine to a quicker wash in order to save on water and energy.
  • Dry clothes outside when possible. On a warm day, hanging clothes out to dry is an energy efficient alternative to using the clothes dryer. 

Reduce Waste Everywhere in the Home 

  • Opt out of junk mail. Did you know that you can opt out of receiving junk mail? Go to the USPS website to remove your name from mailing lists and reduce your postal waste.
  • Make your energy use more efficient. Replace all light bulbs in your home with energy efficient LED bulbs, and be sure to turn all lights off when you leave a room. To conserve energy, you may also turn off your air conditioning when you leave the house, unplug and power down electronics when you’re not using them, and adjust your television settings to operate on lower power.
  • Clear up your digital pollution. E-waste is a major pollutant in the digital age. Be sure to regularly clear out your inbox in order to cut down on digital waste.

This article is related to:

Food Waste

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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