Is it really possible to reduce waste as a family?

In the UK we are all becoming more conscious of climate change, and the need to play our part in reducing carbon emissions. Our recent article Save Money by reducing your Carbon Footprint outlined various ways in which we can do just that on a day to day basis.

One of the key areas where we can all continue to make positive change is reducing the amount of waste we create as a family. In the UK we generate around 26 million tonnes of waste a year. Even though around 46% of this is recycled, it is such a huge amount that any way we can reduce it has got to be good.

So in this article we share some practical tips about how to reduce waste as a family. These tips won’t take a lot of time or effort – and in fact could make your daily life easier and save you money as well as reducing waste.


Ten Top Tips on how to reduce waste as a family


  • Plan food shopping around what you already have

If you do a large food shop it can be very easy to fall into the habit of buying the same things every time. But you can save money and reduce waste by checking what you already have before you go and buy more. There may well be items in your fridge, freezer or cupboards that really need using up. If you replace them with new food you may just end up throwing them away. 

So every time you plan meals and do food shopping, build in what you already have so that it does not go to waste.


  • Use every part of your fruit and vegetables

Did you know that many vegetables don’t need peeling? In fact, the skins or outer leaves of vegetables are often the most nutritious parts. So find ways to use every part of your vegetables, for example roasting vegetables with the skin on.

The same applies to fruit. If you are squeezing citrus fruit such as lemons, limes and oranges, the zest can be grated and kept for use in separate recipes later on.

If you do peel vegetables or fruit, consider using the peelings to make compost rather than throwing them in the bin.


  • Set up a pending bin for unusual items

You don’t have time to go to the local refuse tip that often, particularly now that you have to book a slot, but this doesn’t mean putting unusual items into normal waste. So it’s a good idea to set up a pending bin for odd items that you’re not sure what to do with. 

For example, small household items, electrical items, bulbs and batteries. Some of these items can be recycled, others can’t. But keep filling the bin until it is full, then you can take them to the refuse tip all together. This saves both multiple journeys and unnecessary waste.


  • Take your own containers shopping

We have all got used to taking our own bags to the supermarket, but many will now accept your own containers for fresh produce such as cooked meats, salads and delicatessen items.

Also look out for the growing number of local eco-friendly stores where you can fill your own containers with a wide range of products including cleaning, toiletries, coffee, tea, dried fruit, nuts, herbs and spices.


  • Get eco-friendly takeaways

Shops are not the only kind of business where you need to think about your food containers. It’s great to have a takeaway, but can be very wasteful in terms of the number of plastic containers generated. So when ordering a takeaway, try to find suppliers who deliver in compostable or entirely recyclable containers.


  • Reduce use of plastic and paper in the kitchen

Continuing on a similar theme, when ordering a takeaway, you can specify that you don’t want any plastic cutlery or paper napkins. You can stop using these in the home too. If you are hosting a large gathering, bamboo plates and cutlery make an excellent alternative to plastic.

Cloth napkins can be more eco-friendly than paper, as they can be used many times rather than be thrown away. But even cloth napkins can release a lot of greenhouse gases during production. The best option may be linen napkins which are produced from the flax plant, which is highly eco-friendly.


  • Buy dry goods in bulk

If there are dry goods that you use a lot of, it can make sense to buy them in bulk. Not only does this work out cheaper over time, but it also saves a lot of packaging.

So, as long as you have enough storage space, and are organised enough to make sure you use everything you buy, this could be a good option for items such as:

  • Tea and coffee
  • Pet food
  • Toiletries, for example shampoo, conditioner, shower gel
  • Toilet paper
  • Dried pasta
  • Rice
  • Cereals
  • Nuts
  • Batteries and lightbulbs


  • Buy second hand clothing

When buying clothing, consider buying second-hand. You may be able to pick up some real bargains here, and will not be contributing to the huge amount of waste caused by the fashion industry, which generates an estimated 10% of all carbon emissions.

Some ideas as to where to buy second-hand clothing are:

  • Charity shops.
  • Online sites such as eBay or Vinted.
  • Local selling sites such as Facebook Marketplace.
  • Local schools, nurseries or family groups, for childrens clothing.


  • Sell or give away unwanted goods

We have just looked at various sources of buying second hand clothes, but you can also reduce waste by selling or giving away your own unwanted goods.

As well as the above list, consider car boot sales, table top sales or online sites such as Freecycle.


  • Put a stop to junk mail

Another great way to reduce waste is to completely eliminate junk mail from your home. If you receive catalogues or mailings from companies you are not interested in, contact them to be removed from their mailing list. You can also register online with the Mailing Preference Service to stop receiving unsolicited mail in future.

You may also want to put a sign or sticker on your door requesting that no leaflets are posted through your letter box. You can either make your own or contact your local Council to see if they could provide one.


We hope that this article gives you some ideas as to how you and your family can reduce the amount of waste you generate. 

If you need a bit of a financial boost to get going – for example to bulk buy items for longer term savings – remember that Simple Fast Loans offer unsecured loans from £250 that may be able to help,

For more lifestyle and financial tips do visit us again soon at Simple Fast Loans.