I've got 8 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste at Home that are affordable, effective, and low-stress. A small change can still have an impact when it comes to caring for our precious Earth.
As both a witch and, you know, a human, I'm deeply concerned about the wellbeing of the Earth. In my craft, I call on the energy of the elements and the gifts of nature to add to my own power. I turn on the news and hear about the latest climate crisis, and a sense of dread sinks in. It seems like every week, I look at the headlines and sign saying, "We're all gonna die."
We may or may not be facing imminent peril. In the meantime, we have choices to make. There's so much about climate change that is outside our control, but we can empower ourselves to make changes in our daily lives to care for the planet that nourishes us. We can reduce waste everyday with a few simple changes.
Plastic Free Dishes and Laundry
How many plastic jugs of dishwasher and laundry detergent have you thrown away in your lifetime? It's embarrassing, right? Even if you try to recycle them, you can't be sure that those jugs aren't just getting shipped off to a foreign country to be piled up somewhere untouched, creating tons of carbon emissions in the transport process. What's a regular person with dirty clothes and dishes supposed to do in the face of all this corporate greed?
Okay, that got a bit dramatic, but there is actually a simple solution to reduce waste. I use the subscription service smol. Have you heard of it? They're completely plastic-free dishwasher and laundry tablets that get delivered to your door on your schedule. It's ridiculously convenient and totally guilt-free. And cheaper than similar products available at my grocery store, I might add.
They also do other plastic-free, refillable cleaning products. I haven't tried those yet, but next time I run out of what I've already got, I'll be adding them to my order.
I'm an affiliate for smol, so if you decide to make a purchase from this link, it will directly support my business.
Refill when you can
My neighborhood has a Zero Waste Market, and I see shops like this popping up more and more. I know witches can't resist throwing out jars and containers, so instead of bringing in new containers, refill the ones you already have. You can get things like dried beans and pasta, flours, spices, and oils. My shop also does refillable cleaning products and soap. Scope out your area and see where you can take advantage of refills to reduce wasteful packaging.
Bring your own bag
A change most of us have probably already made is to bring your own shopping bags to the grocery store, but just in case you haven't made the switch yet, I can assure you that there are plenty of options for bags that fold up to practically nothing and are very lightweight so that you can keep one in your handbag at all times. And if you do forget and absolutely have to get a plastic shopping bag, consider how it can be reused or recycled before you get rid of it.
Real Towels, Not Paper
I recently bought a cheap pack of microfiber cloths to beef up my kitchen towel collection, and I've made a conscientious effort to use them where before I might have used paper towels. Without thinking, I'd wipe down the counters and put the mess in the trash. My kitchen bin would be full of something that absolutely did not need to be there. I will, however, be more conscientious in the future about the material my towels are made from. I've recently learned that every time you wash clothes and towels containing synthetic materials, they release microplastics into the water which can be toxic to marine life.
Make Recycling Simple
We recently bought new bins so that we can easily separate recyclables from our regular trash. There's one for mixed recycling that's collected by the council, one for glass, which we have to haul down to the corner, and one for regular trash. We also have a small food waste bin which my husband takes to his community garden plot to compost. I've noticed that our trash does fill up more slowly as we're now recycling more, but of course, the ultimate goal is not to put anything in any of those bins to begin with.
This may seem a little personal, but I recently bought a menstrual cup, and though it took a bit of getting used to, it wasn't nearly as gross as I thought it would be, which is what kept me from making the switch sooner. I mean, if there's one thing you just want to throw away after you use it, it's feminine hygiene products. But tampons and pads are almost always individually wrapped in plastic, not to mention the plastic applicators many brands use. I had already switched to non-applicator tampons to reduce waste, but I've gone all the way, and I don't regret it.
Waste-Free Facial Cleansing
For ages I was using disposable face wipes, and throwing one or two away every day when I took my makeup off at the end of the day. I felt bad about that, so I switched to products that I squeezed onto a cotton pad. Then I was throwing a couple of those out every day. It was less, but it was still wasteful. I've now bought reusable makeup remover pads. I just wash the used ones with my delicates once a week and use them over and over. No more trash when I wash my face.
If you have a bit of extra money to spend, you could also consider buying skincare products that aren't packaged in plastic and don't contain harmful chemicals like parabens and phthalates. Or buy a few basic ingredients and make your own products like this homemade eye makeup remover.
Toothbrushes are definitely a big part of that floating mass of garbage in the ocean. I've recently switched to a bamboo toothbrush in the hopes that it won't last for all of eternity and will decrease my carbon footprint. When it's all tapped out, I break the head off the toothbrush and put that in the trash. The rest of the handle goes in the compost bin.
There are also plastic-free floss and toothpaste options. I have yet to find a toothpaste that doesn't taste so gross I'd consider just letting all my teeth fall out, though. Some toothpaste brands are starting to use recyclable packaging, which is better than nothing, but less than ideal.
Low Waste Shower
Go to your shower right now and count how many plastic bottles you have in there. It could be as many as five or six. There are now lots of different options for plastic-free shower products, bar soap being the most obvious. I've had to shop around a bit to find bar shampoos and conditioners that I actually like, but there are tons of different products to choose from. Keep trying until you find the right one for you.
Vote to Reduce Waste
This is not a waste-reduction tip, but as I mentioned, what we do in our homes will have a small impact. If we want to see major change, it has to happen on the policy level. We need to vote for and support candidates who will hold environmentally irresponsible corporations to account. Choose candidates who will create policies that will actively lead us to a sustainable future. Do you research, then get out there and get involved.
I'm not perfect. I'm just trying to slowly make little changes that are kinder to the Earth. I live in the real world on a limited budget, and I'm doing the best I can. If you have other ideas or techniques for reducing waste that have worked for you, please do share them in the comments. All we can do is our best, but I assure you, creating less waste is totally awesome.