Conscious Living: How to Reduce Waste at Home

photo of trash lot on shore

adjective: conscious

1. aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.

2. having knowledge of something.

3. (of an action or feeling) deliberate and intentional.

Conscious living, a trending, timely phrase. What does it even mean? How exactly does this relate to sustainability? Well, conscious is defined as being ‘aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.’ In this modern day and age, it’s a well-known fact that climate change is affecting our environment day-in day-out. Let’s face it, it’s affecting the planet now and will continue to affect the world in which we live. For this reason, making more conscious choices is so important.

Though the term transcends solely sustainability, the purpose of this post is to explore how we can live a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle. How can we do this? First up, by informing ourselves on sustainability and climate change and, moreover, by being intentional in our actions. Conscious living encompasses deliberate decisions to lower our carbon footprint and reduce any negative impact on the environment. It entails products purchased, every business we invest in, items or waste we get rid of, etc. After all, waste has to end up somewhere whether we like it or not. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just magically disappear. Though there are endless ways we can be more sustainable, let’s focus on something we can all do from the comfort of our own home. Let’s dive into how to reduce waste at home by breaking down the five R’s.

P.S. For anyone in need of some motivation, search how much waste is produced in your country per year.

How to Reduce Waste at Home: The 5 R’s


According to Bea Johnson, an expert in zero waste living accumulating just a mason jar of waste for a family of four per year, the key to reducing waste is to refuse. For example, the likes of plastic bags at the supermarket, or one-use-only cups, bottles, cutlery, straws, etc. when dining out. What’s more, refuse any flyers, ads, or unwanted freebies that just end up in the bin. Invest in foldable tote bags for shopping, eat in or simply say no to one-use-only plastic items or unwanted freebies or advertisements. Refuse unnecessary receipts or ask for a digital one instead. The same goes for bills and statements, opt for the paperless option and receive it in your inbox instead. After all, we can always unsubscribe or delete later.


Here’s one to simplify your life – reduce. Be an informed, conscious consumer. For instance, why not gift experiences instead of presents? Invest in products with minimal, or zero packaging. Failing that, always opt for items with 100% recyclable or compostable packaging. With food and toiletries, buy in bulk to reduce or avoid packaging. Buy the right amount of food for the week and always check expiry dates and cook meals accordingly. For anyone willing to get creative, make your own toiletries like these homemade exfoliators or multiuse cleaning product. When shopping, refrain from buying unnecessary items or anything you’re unsure about. After all, the more minimalist you are, the easier it is to dust and clean! A key part of conscious living is only investing in what you really need or want and know is going to last.

A photo of a reusable jar with a lemon, cinnamon sticks, a herb and a star-shaped spice. An example of reusing and homemade goods.
Photo by Vicky Tran on


Reusing is a great way to reduce household waste. There are some staple household items here that we can reuse over and over again. Firstly, shopping bags, including ones we can purchase and weigh our weekly fruit and veg with. What’s more, perhaps there is a zero-waste store nearby which enables you to bring your own jars and bags to fill when shopping. Of course, this entirely depends on what’s available in your local area. Secondly, opt for zero-waste alternatives like rechargeable batteries, or water filter systems. Reusable cups and bottles are also a great way to cut down on plastic. Thirdly, give unwanted items of clothing, furniture, books, etc. away. Some conscious living options include donating to charity, selling them online, or why not give them to a friend? Likewise, buy second-hand to promote reuse. The more we reuse, the more we reduce household waste.


Of course, not everyone is willing to get hands-on and make their own toothpaste or has the luxury of shopping in a zero-waste store. For this reason, recycling is the next best thing. Make conscious choices when doing your weekly food shop by investing in products that have recyclable packaging. If the packaging is non-recyclable, it’s a no-go. Find an alternative company that takes pride in sustainability. Preferably avoid plastic packaging and other unsustainable materials when possible. Recycle the right way by cleaning any items beforehand. Research and abide by the local recycling regulations too.

A woman putting a plant in the soil. An example of how composting can be used for gardening.
Photo by Ron Lach on


Let’s talk about organic waste. Organic waste, also known as green waste, is the waste that we can compost. Not only does it include leftovers or gone off food, egg shells, and fruit peels, but it also involves garden refuse such as grass trimmings or leaves. Nowadays, there is also compostable packaging available. So, what’s the best way to dispose of organic waste? If the local council have organic waste collection, then make the most of that service. Invest in a small food bin, and some compostable bin liners. Don’t buy regular bin bags as they don’t tend to be compostable.

Alternatively, if you have outdoor space, you can create your own compost bin. Check out the Spruce’s guide for all the ins and outs of composting. Aside from doing wonders for your soil and plant potting, it will also provide you with extra space and will mean no trips to the organic waste point. In other words, it’s a sustainable way to reduce household waste.

How to Reduce Waste at Home in a Nutshell…

There are numerous ways we can reduce our household waste. So, what’s the most effective way to begin? One small step at a time. First, adopt one conscious living habit and then, once you’ve nailed it, move onto the next one. In order for us to have a sustainable lifestyle, we must do the little things that make a big difference. Implement the five R’s in that order – refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot to live more consciously. From testing out eco-friendly alternatives to spreading the word about an inspiring or innovative idea, where there’s a will there’s a way.

For more motivation on why we should be taking these small steps to protect the planet, check out the consequences of climate change, or these additional zero waste tips we can implement at home. What’s your main source of motivation on how to reduce waste at home? Let me know in the comments below!

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    1. Thank you for this! I bought my fiance a small compost bin but it always gets moldy and smelly. I never though of bin liners!

      1. Yes, bin liners do wonders for that reason. Taking it out to the organic waste point regularly in summer also helps too 🙂

    2. Thanks for sharing this Laura ?? I only knew of the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Will definitely note of the Refuse and Rot part too.

      1. That’s good to hear, according to the zero waste experts we should do the five R’s in the order of this post 🙂

    3. Rose says:

      I live these tips! I’m starting to work on reducing our waste so this will be a big help in implementing our next steps. Thanks!

      1. Love this!! Tku for the advice ?’?

    4. Bailie says:

      I find all of this information very useful!

      1. Love this!! Tku for the advice ?’?

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