How to have a low-waste home

Looking to achieve a low-waste home? We've put together a guide of tips and tricks, to help you achieve a zero-waste home. Learn more.

A grater hanging in front of 3 shelves full of jarred spices and other dried goods.

HOW TO ACHIEVE A LOW WASTE HOME

So you want a low-waste home? Perhaps you’ve already taken steps in the right direction or perhaps you’re a complete beginner. Perhaps you have a compost bin and you upcycle as much as possible, but you want to stop binning anything altogether? We’ve put together a guide of do’s and don’ts to help you, wherever you are along the road to a low-waste home.

SET REALISTIC LOW WASTE GOALS

Setting unrealistic goals to go completely zero-waste straightaway is not only overwhelming, it may well set you up for a fail. The zero-waste movement has taken off in recent years – which is a great thing! – but the term can make us feel that we’re never doing enough. Even if you have taken steps to reduce the amount you waste, cutting it out across your entire household is a mammoth task. Starting with making small steps, like rescuing fruit and veg boxes from farms.

Set yourself realistic goals; perhaps you can focus on one room at a time or perhaps you want to prioritise the areas where you know you waste the most. To figure that out, start by looking through your bins – yep, really! What do you chuck the most? Is it food waste? Used coffee cups? Clothes or electronics? This is a good place to work out where you need to focus your attention.

LOW-WASTE HOME STARTER TIPS

So you’re just starting down the road to a low-waste home. This is a great place to be as there’s so much you can do!

Sort your store cupboard Spring clean your cupboards, pull out those half-empty packets of pasta and grains, nuts, dried fruit, flour and biscuits, and collate them into transparent jars. Reorder your shelves so you can easily see what you’ve got rather than buying more every time you go to the shops. Stocking up on a few cupboard essentials and cooking from your dry store will also help you to use up whatever you’ve got in your fridge and veg box. Here’s a handy meal-planning guide to help.

Wardrobe warrior Eighty billion pieces of clothing are consumed globally every year while global clothing production has doubled in the past 15 years. Rather than buying more, organise your wardrobe and pull out the old favourites you’d forgotten about. Shop second hand either on your highstreet or online – try Depop, eBay, The Real Real, Vinted – or rent an outfit from Rent My Wardrobe.

Take a tote Asking for a shopping bag everytime you go to the shop adds up to a lot of plastic. Keep a fold up tote bag or a reused plastic bag with you so next time you’re shopping, you’re not caught out.

LOW-WASTE HOME MIDDLEWEIGHT TIPS

You consider yourself to be pretty eco-conscious, you compost and rarely buy new clothes, but you know there’s room for improvement. Here are more low-waste tips to help:

Grow your own Grow a few pots of fresh herbs on your windowsill to help you to ditch the plastic-wrapped bunches you get at the shops. What about growing your own veggies from your veg scraps? Or making your own homemade compost from your food waste to go back into your garden? Growing your own, even if it’s a few herbs, is a great first step towards a circular, zero-waste food system.

Product junkie Do you throw away tonnes of beauty products, shampoo and body wash bottles? Refill shops are a great place to top-up on shampoo and soap. What about opting for shampoo and soap bars that don’t come wrapped in plastic? Swap cotton buds for reusable pads, and your plastic toothbrush for a biodegradable bamboo alternative.

Make do and mend Got a hole in your jeans? Need to replace a button or darn a sock? Got a stain that needs removing (quick tip: apply baking soda to the stain and leave it overnight)? Check out the brilliant Love Your Clothes for resources on how to mend, repair and look after your clothes so they last longer. Or send your items to Clothes Doctor for repairs via post.

LOW-WASTE HOME ADVANCED TIPS

Your zero-waste home is getting closer and closer. You’ve been chipping away at your home’s output for years, you use a biodegradable toothbrush and you barely put anything in landfill, where can you improve?

Clean your house with fruit Ditch packaged cleaning products, and use citrus fruit instead. High in citric acid, grapefruits are particularly good at cleaning surfaces, effectively lifting off oils and grime, while lemons will remove water marks from your taps. Here are more ways your fruit and veg scraps can replace everyday household items.

Upcycle old candle wax & jam jars Did you know it’s simple to make new candles by melting down the stubs of old ones? You’ll just need wicks (available online) and some jars or old candle holders to add your wax to. First, add your hard wax to an old jam jar and set it in a pan of boiling water. Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool for 15 minutes or so. Stand your wick in an empty jar, pour in the wax and leave to cool completely. They’re great upcycled gifts too!

Borrow don’t buy Whether it’s an iron or lawnmower, ice cream maker or drill, do you use it enough to warrant buying a new one? Fat Llama and Library of Things are now providing a solution, helping you rent almost anything.