18 ideas for reducing waste (part 2)

Continuing on from the first 9 ideas for reducing waste I posted last time…

10.   Pack your own lunch.

DIY lunches: just the way YOU like it

Takeaways and packaged lunches are notorious for creating waste. Sometimes I look at all the packaging that has been created and disposed of for just one meal-on-the-go and I have to hang my head in shame. If you make your own lunch, and carry it with you in a reusable container, you will save money while saving the environment (and possibly your waistline).

11.   Recycle.

It’s the very least you could do. Find out what’s recyclable in your area and sort your rubbish. It’s not the ideal way to reduce waste, because so much waste is created up-stream and so much energy is used in the recycling process, but it’s better than disposing to landfill.

12.   Make your own.

Have fun creating your own clothes, furniture, accessories, or… whatever. Crafts are fun and can be very social. Try upcycling existing stuff so you’re not increasing demand for more raw materials.

13.   Turn your hot water cylinder off when you go on holiday.

What do you need to keep the water hot for when you’re not even there? In summer, I actually have my hot water cylinder off most of the time. I just turn it on overnight every other day, and that keeps it warm enough the rest of the time for showers and household use (this depends on how insulated your hot water cylinder is though).

14.   Fix stuff.

When did we stop fixing things? These days it seems we look for any excuse to throw something away and buy a newer model. But with a little TLC most things can last for years and years. Try re-heeling your shoes instead of chucking them. Or replacing your ipod battery rather than the whole thing. Or take broken electronics to your local fix-it-guy (or gal) and see if they can make them hum like new again.

15.   Don’t waste water.

Water is becoming a scarce resource. Let’s not waste it unnecessarily. Try showering instead of taking a bath. Make your shower as short as possible. Turn the tap off while you’re brushing your teeth. Or maybe shower over a large tub or bucket then use the water you collect to flush the toilet (it’s shocking to me that we use clean drinking water to flush away poo).

16.   Give waste-free gifts.

For Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and such think about gifts that don’t have a lot of packaging or waste. Make something yourself, give a consumable (home-baked cookies never go astray), or vouchers for an experience. Remember to reuse the wrapping paper.

17.   Avoid animal products.

Don't eat us.

Possibly the single greatest thing you could do to reduce your carbon footprint is to stop eating animal products (or reduce the amount you eat). The livestock sector is one of the biggest contributors to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (significantly more than transport). It is also a highly water-intensive industry. For more info, read the United Nations report on the global environmental impacts of the Livestock industry.

18.   Just say no.

If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Be honest with yourself. In fact, more than 90% of all goods we buy are no longer in use just 6 months after purchase. To find out more about how saying “no” can reduce waste (and why it matters), watch the brilliant little video The Story of Stuff.


I would love to hear more ideas from you. What are your ideas for reducing waste?

About Cassandra

Hi, I'm Cassandra. I work in fundraising, love travelling, and am fascinated by how we can inspire one another to greatness and spread human kindness. Connect with me on twitter @cassandra_nz


  1. Pingback: 18 ideas for reducing waste (part 1) | My Life Is My Message

  2. The best advice is to start with myself. Zurich has the best trinking quality, better than most “packaged” waters, and still I catch myself buying bottled drinks. I have filled my own water bottle for tomorrow’s tour. Thank you for this post and incentive.

    • Hi Ellen, Thanks for your feedback – I’m glad this post inspired you to think about your water use. I agree, we must all start with ourselves. It’s not easy to make these changes, I know I go for convenience over sustainability sometimes. Best we can do is do our best.
      And thanks to everyone for reading. I’m keen to hear other ideas I haven’t thought of yet! Please share.

  3. Pingback: Things you didn’t know « Lou & Liz

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