40 Ways To Actually Waste Less Of Basically Everything

40 Ways To Actually Waste Less Of Basically Everything

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1.

Bring a list with you to the grocery store so you only buy the food you know you’re going to eat.


Knock Knock

It also helps if you don’t go shopping when you’re hungry, but I know in my life, at least, that’s not always gonna happen. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Get the magnetic “All Out Of…” notepad from Knock Knock for $7.99 (available in three colors and vegetarian and keto versions) or in pink from Zulily for $6.99.

2.

Reduce your packaging waste by shopping from the bulk bins as much as possible. Plus, it just might save you some money!


Krysten Peck / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com, ERiaHomeGift / Etsy

The first time you go with glass jars to fill, you’ll want to stop by the cashier first to get their “tare weight,” or how much they weigh by themselves, so the store only charges you for the food you buy, and can subtract that tare weight when you check out. (Just note it on a piece of masking tape on the side of the jar for next time, or something.)

Or you can totally use refillable cotton bags, which have a much lighter tare weight *andcome with it printed on tags that are permanently sewn on. Get a set of three 8-inch x 11.5-inch 100% cotton bags from ERiaHomeGift on Etsy for $17.95. (They’re machine washable, of course.)

3.

And avoid bagging your broccoli in one of those flimsy one-time-use bags by packing your own reusable cotton produce bags.


Loosewarp / Etsy

Get a set of six (two small, two medium, and two large) from Loosewarp on Etsy for $12.74.

4.

Store your berries, spinach, lettuce, bell peppers, and all kinds of fruit and veggies in produce savers that really will keep everything day-one fresh for nearly two full weeks. You’ll actually have enough time to eat it all before it goes bad!


Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

I know these work because I’ve tried ’em, and have been using them consistently for nearly a year now — you can read my full Rubbermaid Freshworks review for more! (They’re also 100% top-rack dishwasher safe; I run ’em through all the time.)

Get them from Target: a set of two (one small, one large) for $16.99 or a medium size for $7.89.

5.

Tired of buying a bunch of herbs only to have them go bad within a few days? Extend their freshness with an herb saver that will make it easy to reach in and grab what you need.


Sur La Table

Yep, the liner/basket it comes with opens up at the front, so you can pick out your favorite sprigs then reshelve the rest for later. It also works well for asparagus and green onions!

Get it from Sur La Table for $15+ (available in a small or a large size).

6.

Then if you *stillhave too much of an herb, freeze it in olive oil so you can easily add a hint of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, dill, or oregano to almost any dish you cook.

7.

While you’re at it, freeze your bread, too, and pull it out by the slice as you need it. Just be sure it’s protected from the frigid air: You can plop it in a plastic freezer bag (or two, for a double layer) or try a reusable and airtight plastic bread container.


Wayfair

That way, it’ll be too cold to mold! Protecting it with plastic prevents it from drying out. (If you do choose the plastic bag route, please reuse them over and over for multiple loaves!)

Get this bread container — which has an adjustable divider to keep the bread looking neat, too — from Wayfair for $14.99. (Reviewers say it’s also great for keeping homemade bread fresh out on the countertop!)

8.

Repurpose leftover veggie scraps to make your own stock from scratch, or to infuse your store-bought stock with even more flavor.


Merle O’Neal / BuzzFeed

Collect onion skins and ends; carrot shavings, celery tops and bottoms; garlic tops, bottoms and skins; and more in your freezer, then when you have enough of everything, dump it in a pot with some water, and watch it simmer its way into stock in just half an hour. Here’s Tasty’s veggie stock recipe.

9.

Don’t toss something just because it’s past its “best by” or “sell by” date. Besides still likely being safe to eat, it could still be perfectly delicious!

10.

And eggs can be perfectly fine to eat even weeks past their “best by” date. To easily test one, drop it in a glass of water and see if it floats.

11.

Make microwave popcorn in a silicone popper to avoid wasting the box, each individual cellophane bag, and each paper bag that you leave behind after making popcorn more “traditionally.”


Cuisinart / youtube.com

Traditional for all of us raised in the microwave popcorn era, of course. All you’ll need are the kernels, which you can get in the bulk bin or just in a single bag/container at your grocery store. (Tho you can also add butter or oil for extra flavor, if you want.) Oh! And the popper collapses flat for easy-peasy storage!

Promising review: “I LOVE IT!! The popped corn tastes so much better than being air-popped. I especially like that I use basic popcorn kernels, make as much as I want, and they pop in 90 seconds in my microwave. Oh yeah, it collapses and saves space!!” —Ashikin

Get it from Wayfair for $29.99 (or a similar product made from solid plastic from Target for $17.90).

12.

Regrow celery, bok choy, garlic, green onions, and more by simply soaking your food scraps in a cup of water.


Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

13.

Start saving your compost in a fridge-friendly, odor-blocking bin, and either start composting at home or look for local pick-up or drop-off options.


Oxo, Tom Vellner / BuzzFeed

While this bin works wonders to magically block all kinds of odors no matter where you leave it, if ya keep it in the fridge instead of your counter, your compost is less likely to be moldy by the time you make it to the drop-off site. And it’s easy to rinse clean after you empty it, too (or stick in the dishwasher!), because it doesn’t have any sharp corners or crevices on the inside where gunk could get stuck.

If you want to try your hand at it, here’s how to worm-compost indoors. Or, depending on where you live — and the situation in your community around coronavirus — Google should be able to help you find pick-up or drop-off options.

Get the compost bin from Bed Bath & Beyond for $19.99 (available in two colors).

Curious to know more? Read our OXO compost bin review.

14.

Or if you have the space and motivation for it, start composting in your own backyard, using a simple compost tumbler.


Wayfair

It takes about two weeks to finish up an entire load of compost, but it’s worth the wait. You can add the resulting dirt to your yard or garden, and your plants will love it. It has two different chambers, so you can fill one up while the other “cooks”. And it’s a good idea to add plenty of dry leaves and grass clippings to your kitchen scraps to help with the texture of the final product.

Promising review: “Made really well and worth the money. We blended ours in with the backyard landscaping, leaving room to access it when we need compost. It breaks down scraps quickly — we haven’t filled up one side yet and it’s already breaking down. It has two chambers inside so you can compost small batches. Each chamber is large and will take a while to fill it up. It does generate bugs and such outside in that area but its expected due to the decaying matter. A great buy and a gardeners dream!” —Michelle

Get it from Wayfair for $88.99.

15.

Flip the switch on your ceiling fan so it’s blowing the right direction, and your heat and AC systems won’t work so much to keep you perfectly comfortable.


mom4real.com

Which in turn can lower your electricity bill, because you’re saving electricity! In the winter, you want the fan to blow air upward to push the heat that’s risen to the ceiling back down, so you feel it where you’re sitting on the sofa. And in the summer, you want it to blow a ~cooling breeze~ on your skin.

But, and this is important! — in the summer, turn. the fan. off. when you leave the room. Fans only make you feel cooler, they don’t actually cool the room.

From Mom 4 Real.

16.

And if you have big windows that let in lots of heat or direct sun during the summer months, blackout curtains will block some of that light, letting the room stay cooler while giving your AC a break.


Wayfair

Plus your baby / toddler will have a *mucheasier time napping when the sun’s not pouring into their room!

Promising review: “The curtains are exactly what I was looking for. They are a beautiful navy with silver grommet holes. They have a bit of shine to the material, but it looks nice! They are a really soft material too, feels like a higher quality than what I was expecting. For the blackout, they darken up the room a very good amount. Not to the point where its complete blackness, but still very dark. Keep in mind I am trying to keep a room dark to keep a baby sleeping on those longer summer days.” —Bianca

Get them from Wayfair for $11.94+ per panel (available in eight lengths and19 colors).

17.

Run the dishwasher ONLY when it’s 100% full, so you use the least amount of water to clean as many dishes as possible.


cleanmama.net

Your dishwasher uses the same amount of water and electricity no matter how many dishes are inside, so it’s most efficient to wait until it can wash the maximum number of dishes.

From Clean Mama.

18.

Cut your water use and costs — all while raising your water pressure — by installing a low-flow shower head.


Target

Promising review: “This one’s a keeper. Never have been able to find a head that delivers great pressure with everything being low-flow eco-friendly these days. We are on a well and pressure isn’t great. This head delivers the best pressure!” —Carolynny

Get one from Target for $14.99 (three colors, 1.8 gallons/minute or GPM; the EPA standard is 2 GPM).

19.

And you can do the same thing with all your sink faucets, too. An aerator literally just twists on and off, making it super simple to install.


Home Depot

Well, you may need some pliers to help you tighten them, but pretty much anyone can do it. For the most water (and water bill!) savings, look for ones that are between .5 and 1 gallons per minute (gpm) for the bathroom. Just do your research before you buy: they’re *notone-size-fits-all, and you’ll want ones that work for your faucets. (And your faucets may have one already — it just may not be the most efficient water-saving version!)

Get a 1.0 GPM aerator from Home Depot for $4.89.

20.

Add a clean, dry bath towel when you put wet clothes in the dryer — then remove it after about 15 minutes — to make everything dry faster.


Getty Images

After about 15 minutes tumbling together, the towel will have soaked up a bunch of water from your clothes. Just take it out and hang it up to dry, and let the clothes finish drying faster than they would have otherwise. From here.

21.

Or swap out your dryer sheets for a set of five wool dryer balls. They’ll help everything dry a little faster, cut down on wrinkles and static, and reduce your plastic use (because yes, most dryer sheets are made with some plastic).


Wayfair

They also come with a bottle of ~fresh linen~ scented essential oil — just dab a couple of drops on one of the dryer balls to lightly scent your clothes! If you end up with too much static, then try reducing the amount of time you let your dryer run.

Promising review: “Love these dryer balls. They truly do make drying much quicker! And the fresh linen oil smells great: it’s not too subtle, not too overpowering, AND the scent lasts a long time on clothes.” —Elita

Get a pack of five from Wayfair for $17.99.

22.

Don’t forget to get your dryer vent cleaned out once a year (or to clean it out yourself with a specialty brush), because pushing out that excess lint means your clothes will dry faster and your dryer will need less electricity to do its job.


Deflecto / Via youtube.com

You can always hire a pro for this, but it’s a pretty simple DIY. If you happen to own a plumbing snake already, you can use that with this tutorial. Or opt for a specialty brush and pole set that works with your drill instead!

Get it from Staples (the brush + 12 feet worth of rods to extend it) for $16.49.

23.

And brush the layers of dust and dirt off of your refrigerator’s coils so it uses less power to keep all your food nice and chilled.


frugallyblonde.com

Some newer fridges don’t have exposed coils like this (you can always check your manual to see), but if yours does, it’s good to keep ’em clean! All you need is a vacuum, a long brush (like this one, $2.98 at Home Depot), and someone to help you move the fridge. From Frugally Blonde.

24.

Pack a small (and clean) pencil bag with a knife, fork, spoon, and chopsticks to create a zero-waste silverware kit perfect for school, work, travel or even picnics. (Best for when we eventually start leaving our homes again, of course!)


skipthebag.com

You can keep it in your desk, your purse, or wherever makes the most sense for your life. Then forever turn down any offers of plasticware! From Skip the Bag.

No pencil bag to spare? Pick up a compact kit that comes with all the utensils you need plus a handy silicone case (and is 100% dishwasher safe, of course).


Target

Again, good for *afterwe all stop spending most of our time at home.

Promising review: “I needed a set of utensils to limit waste and these fit the bill perfectly. They’re easy to use, magnetic to keep secure, and have a good case to keep them clean. Can’t really ask for much more.” —Hayley

Get it from Target for $11.99.

25.

Swap those single-use Keurig pods for a reusable K-cup that’s easy to fill yourself and works with any K-cup coffee maker.


Target

That way you can continue to use the brewer you love, without the waste! Just make sure to read the directions before you toss ’em: depending on the brewer you have, reviewers say you have to take off the bottom ring to make it fit. Plus over time you’ll actually save money, because you can buy and use ground coffee — much cheaper than continuing to buy more K-cups.

Promising review: “I love my Keurig but this takes it to a new level. Always wanted to be able to use my Keurig and my select brew but was not able to until I found this. Very easy to use. While using your own brew, you will have to do some trial and error so you get the taste just right but this is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” —Mike May

Get one from Target for $14.99.

26.

Or go the lazy-gourmet route, and enjoy every day pour-over or cold brew — both of these gadgets take basically zero effort and make almost no waste except (compostable!) coffee grounds, while still making delicious single-serve cups of coffee.


Oxo, Target

The auto-drip pour-over on the left couldn’t be simpler: you drop in a filter, add a few scoops of grounds, pour the boiling water in, then go do something else while it slowly funnels down your delicious brew. Get it from Oxo for $15.99.

The overnight iced coffee concentrate maker’s equally easy and works like a French Press: You fill the bottom with grounds, add water, let everything sit in the fridge overnight….then press down the plunger n the morning et voila! — fresh, homemade cold brew. Get a 12-cup maker from Target for $12.99.

27.

Stick a collapsible container in your car or bag so — when you start going out to restaurants regularly again — you can bring your leftovers home without using even more of those styrofoam clamshells.


Wayfair

And in the meantime, you can use ’em for regular leftovers storage that don’t take up extra space in the cabinet. Of course, they’re also microwave and top-rack dishwasher safe!

Get this set of three collapsible silicone containers (one large seven-cup container and two smaller two-cup containers, plus lids) from Wayfair for $27.99 (available in two color combos).

28.

Get all of the functionality of disposable plastic bags with none of the waste: try a few reusable silicone bags instead.


@stasherbag / Via instagram.com, @stasherbag / Via instagram.com

I’ve personally had a couple of these for a few years now, and they still work exactly the way they did when they were new — which is as a seamless replacement for disposable bags! I run them through the top rack of the dishwasher all the time.

Promising review: “Okay these are a game-changer! I’m so happy to be able to reduce my carbon footprint with these bags. I like this size in particular because it’s perfect to fit a bunch of fruit or sandwich. I’ve also put it thru the dishwasher so many times and it’s still in perf condition.” —stargirl4

Get them from Target: in the snack size for $9.99 (colors may vary), the sandwich size for $11.99 (colors may vary), or in clear in a half-gallon size for $19.99.


@thehumbleco / Via instagram.com, Preserve

You do have to pull out the nylon bristles from the bamboo brushes before you compost, but that’s NBD. Get one from Target for $4.99.

The plastic brushes are made from recycled plastic *andyou can mail them back either in bulk or in their original package (or drop them off at select Whole Foods stores) to be recycled again at the end of their lives. Get them from Grove Collaborative for $3.19 each, or a six-pack direct from Preserve for $18.

(Note: Preserve has paused recycling for the duration of the coronavirus crisis because the facility is in New York State, but their website says they’ll be back running as soon as they can. In the meantime, you can still use the brushes and just save ’em to send later!)

30.

And green-ify your flossing routine with some compostable floss made from maize straw. It removes just as much gunk as your typical plastic kind, but without the harmful effects on the planet.


B.Y.O.J. / Etsy

Yes, you’ll technically still be using the same amount of floss, but you won’t be throwing away small bits of single-use plastic at the same time. It’s 32-yard spool comes packaged in a recyclable, reusable glass container, with a recyclable box — and you can order refills. It’s mint-flavored and coated in a vegan-friendly candelilla wax.

Promising review: “Love it! The floss is sturdy and clean and it’s Zero Waste, yay!” —Mallie Messri

Get it from B.Y.O.J. (Bring Your Own Jar) on Etsy: the starter pack for $6.70 and a pack of two refills for $7.43.

31.

Ditch those disposable wipes for a pack of two makeup remover cloths that will take every bit of product off with just water and a few swipes, and you’ll still get to indulge your lazy side.


Target

Seriously, no extra makeup remover required; just water (although one reviewer mentions they like to use micellar water, instead). And yes, this does save plastic, because disposable wipes can and often do contain polyester and polypropylene (along with other more natural fibers), unless they’re marked as compostable.

Promising review: “These work amazing with all makeup, including waterproof! I’m definitely happy that I took a chance on these, they get the job done and are incredibly soft and easy to use over and over again.” —Stacy

Get them from Target: the pack of two for $9.99 or, if those are out of stock, individually for $7.99 (available in three colors).

32.

Start by actually taking care of the clothes you already have and love.


BuzzFeed

33.

If your clothes break in some small way, fix the problem instead of just resigning them to the donate bin. Button come off your jeans? Pick up a replacement kit that’ll have your favorite pair functional again in like, five minutes or less.


WeddingDecorUK / Etsy

All you do is take a hammer or mallet (or even like, a closed pair of pliers) and lightly tap the backs into the front.

Get a pack of eight from WeddingDecorUK on Etsy for $2.96 (plus shipping; 14 styles available).

34.

Instantly close up any small tears or holes with some fabric glue you can count on to hold better than those original threads or stitches ever did.


aprettyhappyhome.com

Get the full tutorial from A Pretty Happy Home, and a bottle of Liquid Stitch (which is permanent *andwashable!) from Joann Fabrics for $10.99.

Promising review: “Had a vintage track jacket that ripped in the stripes and couldn’t be sewn without it being painfully obvious. This stuff saved it!” —Livingasana

35.

And make sorry sweaters (and sofas and throw pillows) look perfectly brand new with the help of a fabric shaver — it will effortlessly pick off years of pills in one go.


Target

It has three different “levels” so you can adjust how close the blade is, depending on how fluffy the pills are.

Promising review: “This was the best purchase I’ve made in a long time. It works SO WELL. For years I have hated looking at pills on clothing and have used razors and my fingers, but nothing truly helped. This should be a household staple by now. My clothes look brand new. Works on hats and other fabrics as well. Plus it is SO satisfying to remove the pills. The front is adjustable too, so you can bring the blades closer/further away from the fabric depending on how fuzzy or thick it is. Just 5 stars all around.” —chickenparm

Get one from Target for $11.99.

36.

For new clothes on the cheap — when we can gather in groups again — host a clothing swap party to motivate all your friends / family / coworkers to clean out the great clothes and accessories they never wear anymore AND help them find something new (to them!) and stylish to wear for free.

37.

Or simply donate the items you don’t wear anymore.

38.

And of course shop at secondhand stores, consignment stores, and places like Poshmark to find fashion gems at a discount!


Poshmark

Your carbon footprint stays significantly smaller anytime you opt for something vintage or secondhand over something new. (Of course, there’s no shame in shopping for new stuff, either! Love what you love!)

Psst, thinking about selling on one of those sites? Get all the deets on the best online resale platforms.

39.

Animal shelters would probably love to have any blankets and towels you don’t want anymore (just wash ’em first).

40.

And if you still have swimsuits, curtains, pillows, or other textiles you don’t want to send to a landfill, you can pay to have them recycled through Terracycle.


terracycle.com

Because yeah, unfortunately recycling costs money, and if a recycler can’t make a profit off of your discards paying is sometimes the way to go. (IMHO if this isn’t in your budget, don’t worry about it.) Fabric and textile boxes start at $103 from Terracycle.

You, after doing even just one or two of these things on this list:


Warner Bros.

The reviews in this post have been edited for length and clarity.

Shopping for something specific? Check out BuzzFeed Reviews to find the best things for every budget!


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