5 Easy Actions to Reduce Waste

I am a David Suzuki Queen of Green Coach helping 5 families to improve their environmental focus during an 8 week program. The first two weeks we focused on waste and set goals to improve upon an action they are already doing well, an action they feel they need to improve upon and an action they need 6 months to work on.  Reflecting and trying to set goals to minimize waste can be intimidating. Often, we are too hard on ourselves thinking that even a small action is not enough. To help my families be successful in their goal setting I provided them a list of 30 waste minimizing actions that focus on the 4 R's (Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, Recycle).

Waste Reduction Actions
  1. You pack literless lunches 
  2. You have a backyard composter or a city compost program 
  3. You upcycle instead of throwing things out 
  4. You chose to buy items that come in glass or metal rather than plastic 
  5. You have switched to electronic bills 
  6. You have opted out of phone books 
  7. You have opted out of flyers 
  8. You switched a magazine subscription to online vs in the mail 
  9. You purchase those products that generate the least amount of waste 
  10. You bring your own mug for coffee 
  11. You bring your own containers for takeout 
  12. You have stopped using paper towels and made your own 
  13. You stopped using saran wrap 
  14. You use cloth napkins 
  15. You use a reusable toilet paper 
  16. You use a menstrual cup 
  17. You bring your own bags to the store 
  18. You switched to bar soap from liquid soap 
  19. You buy in concentrate 
  20. You meal plan to reduce food waste 
  21. You recycle 
  22. You reuse plastic bags from bread and cereal 
  23. You save toilet paper rolls for crafts 
  24. You freeze leftovers to prevent them from going bad 
  25. You use cloth diapers 
  26. You breastfeed 
  27. You use reusable cleaning pads for the floors 
  28. You use rechargable batteries 
  29. You donate used items to charity or give them to another family 
  30. You buy used clothing and other goods

If you don't know where to start the easiest actions to tackle are the ones that require very little effort

# 1 Pack literless lunches - It doesn't take any more time to put cut veggies into a reusable stainless steel container vs throwing them into a ziplock bag.

#5 Switch to electronic bills - Nearly every provider allows you to get your bills online. You typically just need your last bill to sign up. When bills come in they will be emailed to you so create a simple filing system in your email so you can access them later if required. Do not print them off or else that defeats the purpose of getting e-bills in the first place.

#10 Bring your own mug for coffee - Keep a reusable mug in your car or purse. This way you will always have it with you when you need it. If you are going to work wash it there and put it back into your car clean.

#17 Bring your own bags to the store - Just as you did with your reusable coffee mug, leave your reusable grocery bags in your car and keep 1 in your purse for those quick trips to the mall or other stores where you will only need 1 bag.

#21 You recycle - Okay seriously. There really isn't a good reason to not be doing this one unless there is NOTHING available in your city. No excuses otherwise. Use your blue box.

#24 You freeze leftovers to prevent them from going bad - It is easy to pack up the leftovers in the fridge thinking you will eat them the next day. But if you are known for not doing this then freeze your leftovers in glass right away so you don't forget about them in our fridge for weeks days.

#29 You donate used items to charity or give them to another family - Whenever you are de-cluttering, renovating or redecorating don't throw your items to the curb. Instead give them away to a charity (they will often pick up at our home), give them away on FreeCycle or give them to another family.

How many actions do you consistently do? How many could you improve upon? 

Earth Day Blog Carnival 
Looking for other Tips on How to You can Focus on Reducing Waste?  The Green Sisterhood is hosting a Earth Day Blog Carnival and this weeks focus is Waste. Great articles below!

Betsy from Eco-novice: 6 Ways to Ditch Disposables
Leigh from Green-4U: We Should Teach the 5R's from Refuse to Recycle
Brenna from Almost All The Truth: The 5R's from Refuse to Recycle
Anna from Green Talk: 15 Ways to Recycle Underwear
Kristina from The Greening of Westford: The 5 R's - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle
Alicia from The Soft Landing: 4 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste
Karen from ecokaren: How Much Waste Do Americans Generate

Related Posts - Check them Out


  1. I do mostly everything on the list. Yay! Except for using rechargeable batteries. We don't use many since when toy batteries run out, we don't actually replace them (oops! lol) I will definitely look into it though once our stash runs out.

    1. We don't use too many either. Just TV remotes. Wii remotes, B's camera and flashlights.

  2. Same here, we do most on the list. You've definitely given me something to think about though - thanks!

  3. Thanks for this helpful list!

  4. Great list. I like that you broke it down into easy chunks.