10 Ways to Live More Waste-Free

Updated: Oct. 19, 2023

Living a waste-free lifestyle doesn't happen overnight. However, small changes can add up and help you and your family produce less trash that will end up in landfills. Here are 10 ways to cut down on the amount of trash you generate.

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paper towel
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Cut Down on Disposables

Think about all the disposable items you use daily and discover how to reduce that number. Replace paper towels with reusable rags, use non-disposable dinnerware, bring your own shopping bags to the store and pack sandwiches and snacks in reusable containers or reusable sandwich bags. You’ll toss fewer items and save yourself some money in the long run!

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Learn to Love Leftovers

When learning how to create less trash, you might think of plastics rather than food. But food waste in the United States is estimated at 30 to 40 percent of the food supply, which was about 133 billion pounds of food in 2010, according to the USDA. Make a commitment to safely repurposing leftovers in other dishes, such as lunch the next day to cut down on food waste.

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buy in bulk
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Buy in Bulk

Stop buying food in individual packages whenever possible. Bring Mason jars to the grocery store to buy bulk spices. Also, buy items such as cereal, dry beans and meat, if possible. You may need to get a little creative to create more kitchen storage space for all of those bulk items, but it’s well worth it.

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cold lunch

Bring Your Lunch

Instead of going out for lunch, bring your own. This will not only help you use up those leftovers, but it will cut down on your use of to-go packaging such as Styrofoam and plastic utensils. Get creative with recipes; see if you can combine Monday’s leftover rice with Tuesday’s veggies to make a new meal for Wednesday’s lunch. And pick reusable containers instead of throwing away single use ones.

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thrift store clothes shopping

Shop at Thrift Stores

You can help cut down on global emissions by purchasing clothing and other items at second-hand stores. You’ll not only reduce emissions caused by shipping, but help keep things that are still in good condition out of landfills. And in many cases you can save yourself some money on clothing!

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disposable bottles


One popular way to learn how to create less trash is to learn how to recycle properly. Recycle everything you can, including unbroken glass, paper and cardboard, some plastics and aluminum cans. Always double check to make sure you’re sorting the items correctly, and confirm that they are indeed recyclable.

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Devrim PINAR/Shutterstock

Go Paperless

The average office worker uses 2 pounds of paper and paperboard products per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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cleaning supplies

Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies

White vinegar, baking soda and lemon are all-natural cleaning products. Learn how to make your own cleaning solutions to clean the bathroom, kitchen and even carpet and furniture. Not only will you help the environment by using natural cleaning products, you’ll cut down on packaging.

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dfh17sep038_160161059_01-1200x1200 compost pile dirt garden egg shells lettuce soil fertilizer
Marina Lohrbach/Shutterstock


Whether you’ve got a large yard or a small apartment garden, knowing how to compost is a part of learning how to create less trash. Composting will not only prevent items from ending up in the landfill, it can help your lawn and garden. It’s a great way to cut down on food waste as well; vegetable scraps that you can’t utilize in a recipe are generally safe to compost.

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man shaving

Use Reusable Personal Products

By using an electric razor, you’ll save disposable razors from ending up in the trash and save money in the long run. You can also buy toothbrushes with handles made of bamboo instead of plastic. The bamboo handles are biodegradable. These items are relatively easy to find and are great entry-level zero-waste swaps.