Top Three Ways to Start Reducing Waste

Top Three Ways to Start Reducing Waste

Do you know someone who wants to be a little bit greener this year? When I mention that we only put our garbage bin out once or twice a year, people want to know how we do it. Whether you are curious for yourself, or for someone else in your life, this January I am sharing my top three practical steps for anyone who wants to get started reducing their household's waste. Read more...

I love writing about all the little green things that our family does on a daily basis. While some of them will work for you, I’m sure that some of my methods won’t. In an effort to help the majority of people I have come up with my very best tips which tackle the ‘big three’ of waste. When we study what is actually in the garbage, the results usually come out looking something like this: lots of organics (food and yard waste), lots of paper and cardboard, and … lots of everything else. Here are my practical but simple ways to tackle these three areas.

1) Compost. If you do nothing else, learn to compost. It deals with a significant (and smelly) part of our garbage in a simple and earth-friendly way. It doesn't matter if you live in an apartment building, a house or on an acreage - composting can fit with your life. When it comes to excuses as to why people don't compost, I've heard them all.

Here are some great resources for getting around the most common issues:

Its too much work: here's my lazy person's guide to no-brainer composting    

Our weather is too cold: here's how to keep composting even in the coldest months of the year.

My place is too small: there is more than one option for composting indoors, even in the smallest of spaces.

The SWRC has a fantastic and concise guide to composting on the prairies, including great troubleshooting tips. You can find it here. They also have an interactive quiz to help you find the best composting style to fit your life.

If you don’t already compost, you will be amazed at how much it reduces the kitchen garbage. Another bonus? It can sit for a while without getting stinky.

2) The key to keeping paper out of the landfill is often to avoid it in the first place. I wrote an article all about this called Stemming the Tide of Household Paper. It covers how to stop the paper flyers, get rid of paper bills and skip the receipts.

And keep in mind that some forms of paper that can’t go in the recycling bin can go into the compost, instead of the garbage. Think paper napkins, paper plates and parchment baking paper. Just with these simple actions you will find you have much less paper to deal with.

3) My best advice to avoid throwing out all the rest is to buy good stuff. Whether you buy used or new, buy the best quality you can. Buy things with longer warranties and use those warranties. (Hot tip: now that we live in the age of the app, you can keep track of your warranties in an app! Google it, it’s a thing.)

When you buy good stuff, take care of it!  Don't be afraid to look into getting things fixed. This year try and mend your own clothes, fix your zippers, and get the screen fixed on your phone instead of just getting a new one. ,

Panicked at the thought of doing these things yourself? No worries. If you’re simply lacking the skills and information to do it, I have found instructional videos on YouTube to be really helpful. Not a DIY kind of person? You can find all sorts of repair services on buy and sell sites like and look for small businesses with a presence on Facebook. It’s a great way to find those who do shoe repair, tech repair, etc.

Most of all, don’t feel you have to figure out how to do these things on your own. That’s why the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council exists! Like the SWRC facebook page and feel free to ask questions. Use the amazing recycling database on the SWRC website to make it easy to find out where to recycle all of those ‘everything elses’ you have in your basement. Who knows, maybe you will even be inspired to go to one of the SWRC’s live workshop or forum events.

Following these three tips and using the SWRC as a good resource, we create very little garbage in our household. It both feels good, and makes taking out the trash a pretty minimal task. What new waste-reduction habit will you take on? What information or resources would you like to see to help yourself or others not make so much garbage?