10 Quick Ways to Shrink Your Waste

Household waste, that is *.

Here are 10 quick ways to reduce the amount of garbage that goes into your bins every week. Even if you’re not thinking about the environmental impact of doing this; it’ll be less to carry.

Overflowing trash can

* If you’re looking to shrink your waist, Rob‘s your man.

  1. Give it away

    CleaningA ‘spring clean‘ – at any time of the year – is a great opportunity to take advantage of this one. If you’ve got something which is perfectly reasonable (but no longer wanted); give it away. Donate it to charity, give it to a neighbour or find a friend/family member who’d love to take it off your hands.

    This works well for low-priced items, or things which are far too heavy to consider putting up for sale.

  2. Sell it online

    eBayOnce all of the low-value goods are out of the way, there’s a good chance that you’ve got quite a few things left. Grab a couple of photos, write brief descriptions and put them up on an auction site like eBay. Alternately, use any of the larger trading sites such as Craigslist, Loot or the Trading Post.

  3. Compost heap

    Compost binIf you spend many a sunny weekend raking up leaves or mowing the lawn, a compost heap is for you. This will give you a quick, simple way to turn the unwanted leaf litter and grass clippings into great material for the gardens.

    To find out exactly how to make a compost pile or bin, take a look at this article.

  4. Make your own mulch

    MulchWhen it comes to garden equipment, one of my favourites is a machine known as ‘The Piecemaker‘ (great name). It simply breaks up larger stems and branches into bite-size pieces – perfect for garden mulch.

    Like the compost heap, a shredder or mulcher is a great way to turn garden waste into useful garden product. Beautiful.

  5. Take your own shopping bags

    Re-usable shopping bagQuick question for you : when you go shopping, do you take your own bags? This is a particularly easy way to cut back on your household waste. After all, the plastic or paper bags provided at each store have to go somewhere once they’re home. If you can avoid using them at all, great.

    To read a little more about this, head over to the article 5 Ways To Reduce Packaging In Your Grocery Shopping.

  6. Set up a worm farm

    Worm farmI love worm farms. Although I usually think of them as indoor equipment, I understand entirely if you’d rather keep yours outside. In a slightly sheltered area, of course.

    A worm farm is a great way to convert unwanted kitchen scraps into nutrients for your garden. It can even work its magic on your dog’s, well, ‘markers‘. And, if you’re wondering, it’s great to have a worm farm as well as a compost heap. Slightly different functions.

  7. Grow your own fruit & veg

    Home-grown tomatoOne of the simplest ways to reduce your household waste is to produce at least some of your own food. This doesn’t necessarily mean opening a cattle ranch or dairy farm; growing a few fruits and vegetables will start things off.

    If gardening isn’t exactly a strong point (either you never grow anything or you kill almost any plant you touch), a large pot filled with herbs is a great start. In general, they’re tough little things.

    To see how it’s done (and don’t worry, it’s little more than pot + soil + plants), walk this way.

  8. Use it for something else

    DIYThis is a technique which is often overlooked – re-using an item for something else. An old bookshelf that gradually makes its way to the garage, a pair of socks that enjoy a new life as dusting cloths and so on. Before throwing something away, ask yourself if it could be used for something else.

    Of course, there are many, many ways to reuse the items which you may already have. Whether you’re looking for something in the ‘arts and crafts‘ line, or are much more at home in the garage; these should give you a few ideas :

  9. Restore and Renovate

    PolishingAlthough the impact is somewhat more subtle, this is the second cousin of the ‘re-use‘ category above. Essentially, it’s just re-using an item for the original purpose.

    Another question to ask when about to throw an item away – would you keep using it if it were in better condition? If the answer’s ‘yes‘, then it may be worth the time and effort involved in fixing it up. Especially with larger, expensive items.

    As the restoration of just about anything (furniture and cars are at the top of most lists) is a specialist activity, I won’t even attempt to cover things here. I will point out though, that with a bit of time and effort (and – in some cases – money); almost anything can be restored.

  10. Use biodegradable packaging

    Biodegradable bagBack to the great outdoors, sort of. Whenever you buy something, think for a second where the packaging is going to end up. I don’t just mean ‘in the bin‘ (although that’s a start), I mean slightly further down the line. Sitting atop a massive pile of garbage somewhere?

    Whenever possible, opt for materials which break down fairly easily. Think of a paper-wrapped parcel from the butcher, rather than the equivalent plastic and foam concoction at the local supermarket.

    A rule of thumb here – if you’re not sure if it breaks down easily, it probably doesn’t.

Bonus : Recycle glass, paper and plastic

Recycling centerRemember cleaning up after the last party you had? All of the bottles and cans? Recycling is a particularly simple way to get rid of them all. And a whole lot more.

Final thoughts on shrinking your waste

Just about anything you throw away can be put under one of the headings above. For the remainder, well, keep on making it smaller. It’s a lot easier to carry.

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