Tips to Manage Home Waste

Tips to Manage Your Home Waste

As human populations continue to rise and countries continue to develop across the world, waste management becomes more pressing every day. Household waste is one of the least regulated types of waste, with less than 60% of it currently being collected for appropriate processing.

It is the responsibility of all people to ensure that the waste their households produce is sorted properly and disposed of efficiently. Responsible waste disposal doesn’t have to be hard, either. Read on to find some tips for managing household waste that can help consumers get organized and ensure that they are disposing of waste responsibly.

Reducing Waste

Using recyclable products and ensuring that they are processed appropriately is a great way to help the planet, but by far the best thing consumers can do to reduce the ecological footprints of their homes is to reduce the amount of waste they produce, to begin with. There are many ways to reduce waste.

Avoid Plastics

Most plastic waste is not recyclable. Plastic bags, for example, cannot be disposed of using municipal recycling programs, so they’re best avoided. The same goes for plastic storage containers.

Instead of using plastic bags, purchase reusable cloth shopping bags. Instead of using plastic storage containers, go for glass. These techniques have the added benefit of being healthier for the household’s residents as well as the planet.

Buy in Bulk

Buying foods in bulk without packaging is a great way to reduce the amount of plastic that enters modern homes. Most consumer goods come in multi-layered plastic packaging and are best avoided. Buying in bulk and bringing glass containers from home is a great way to reduce the amount of packaging that enters the kitchen. When it’s not possible to buy in bulk, look for products that use less packaging or buy from companies committed to using recyclable packaging.

Go Digital

Making the switch to online billing is an easy way to create less waste. Many merchants now offer email receipts, as well. Online banking, online receipts, and other digital transactions reduce resource use while simultaneously providing a more convenient alternative to paper bills and receipts.

Repurpose Containers

There’s no reason to recycle glass and durable plastic containers while spending money on storage tins and Tupperware. Instead, save used containers for leftovers, home organizing, and other projects.

Recycling Products

Modern households’ home recycling programs should go well beyond just bringing cans back for the deposit. Many waste management companies provide either integrated or separated recycling services, so investigate setting one up for your community if it doesn’t already provide recycling services.

Donate Clothes and Home Goods

Home clean-outs can create a lot of waste. Often, the discarded clothing, electronics, and home goods left in attics, basements, or storage units are still useful. Instead of tossing them in a dumpster and sending them to the landfill, discard home goods to homeless shelters, schools, or local thrift stores.

Compost Food Scraps

Most modern households throw their food scraps in the garbage without even realizing that they’re wasting a valuable resource. Composting food scraps is a great way to save organic waste from the landfill and get it back into garden soils where it belongs. Families who live in the city may want to consider municipal composting programs if they don’t have the space for kitchen gardens or compost processing.

Those who have the space to start their own compost bins should note that yard waste can also be composted. In fact, compost piles need carbon-rich items to break down properly. Here’s a list of what belongs in the compost pile:

  • vegetable scraps
  • coffee grounds
  • tea bags
  • eggshells
  • unwaxed paper
  • unwaxed cardboard
  • sawdust
  • sticks and small branches
  • leaves
  • grass clippings

Note that there are a few common food products missing from this list. While animal products like meat, cheese, and yogurt will all compost eventually, they can contain dangerous pathogens so they require substantially more time and more careful composting. It’s best for novice kitchen gardeners to avoid them.

Learn How to Recycle Responsibly

Most municipal and private waste disposal companies accept recycling. Make sure to recycle only clean items free from food scraps and substantial dirt. Here’s a list of what can typically be tossed in the recycling bin:

  • Plastic containers labeled as recyclable (often labeled as no. 1-7)
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Aluminum cans

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Dispose of Waste Responsibly

Not everything can be avoided, reused, or recycled. Keeping things clean and free of clutter sometimes requires renting a dumpster to get rid of non-recyclable waste and debris, and that’s fine. Just make sure to separate recyclable items, compostable products, and hazardous waste.

Most municipalities have laws in place governing the disposal of certain household items. They include batteries, syringes, un-used medications, chemicals, paint, electronics, and light bulbs. When in doubt, call the waste disposal company and ask whether an item belongs in the regular trash.

When chemicals and other toxins are disposed in landfills, they leach into the soil, water, and air. This pollution creates health and safety hazards for landfill workers and nearby residents, destroys plants, and makes the area surrounding the landfill uninhabitable for wildlife. It’s best to err on the side of caution and call to ask about any materials that could be hazardous instead of sending them to the landfill.

The Bottom Line

Reducing the amount of household waste that winds up in the landfill doesn’t have to be difficult. Make one small change today, such as setting up a designated recycling bin, and get everyone in the house on board with using it. Once they’re used to the change, try taking another step forward such as setting up a compost bin or donating old clothing, electronics, and household goods. It’s worth the effort.


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