The Ultimate Guide to Creating Less Waste

How to reduce your garbage creation this new year

Sidney Switzer
Jan 5, 2019 · 5 min read
Photo by SWZLE on Unsplash

Many of us are purchasing and disposing of far more garbage than we need to be.

Whether or not you care about the plastic razor you threw away three years ago still being on the planet (which you should), these low-waste swaps are also more cost effective than their wasteful alternatives.

You can create less garbage and save money long-term.

The issue is that we usually aren’t aware of the ways that we are wasteful. We’ve been taught by our family and society “the way things are,” which makes it difficult to realize that there are alternatives.

As an easy starter-guide, I’ve broken low-waste changes into five categories:

  1. Beauty/Hygiene
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


We are constantly exposed to hundreds of ads telling us the exact cream, soap, scrub, or lotion that we need for every single part of our bodies.

They encourage us to buy lots of products and frequently. Half the time, the products are just marketing and don’t work anyway.

For this reason, you should pair down to the products that you deem true necessities and attempt to find low-waste versions. Removing non-biodegradable goods from your bathroom is a create way to start!

Here are a few easy swaps that while cost more up-front, save far more money due to their stamina in the long-run:

Plastic razor → Safety razor

Cotton rounds → Cloth cotton rounds

Body wash in plastic bottle → Bar soap (if possible in no packaging)

Tampons or pads → Menstrual cups

Single bottle shampoo/conditioner → Bulk bottles or bars

Shaving cream → making your own or using soap

Toothpaste in tube → Toothpaste in glass

Plastic toothbrush → Wooden toothbrush

Plastic hairbrush → Wooden hairbrush

Wasteful makeup brands → Low-waste makeup brands or just not wearing makeup unless you genuinely enjoy it

Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash


Just because we are cleaning our houses doesn’t mean we are making for a cleaner environment. Of course we want our houses to be clean, but I feel like sometimes we have a misconception when it comes to cleaning.

There are times when we need disposable cleaning products and times when we don’t.

If you are cleaning up blood, feces, vomit or anything that falls under the umbrella of toxic, harmful, or mold-inducing, then by all means use chemicals and paper towels.

If you are cleaning up spilled juice or bread crumbs, just use a wet cloth.

In medical situations, heavy duty chemicals and disposable are necessary. In most household cleaning situations, regular soap and reusable cleaning tools are just fine.

Here are a few easy swaps for non-emergency cleaning situations:

Paper towels → Towels and sponges

Disinfectant wipes (when it doesn’t warrant disinfecting) → Cloth and soap

Specific cleaners → Multi-purpose cleaners (like baking soda)

Plastic bottles → Glass spray bottles

Bottled dish soap → Bulk dish soap

Bottled laundry detergent → Bulk laundry detergent

Dryer sheets → Reusable dryer balls

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash


While we have control over the purchases that come into our own home, it’s easy to make waste while on-the-go without even knowing. Just because it didn’t go in your trash can doesn’t mean it didn’t ultimately end up in one.

Here are some easy swaps:

Plastic water bottles → Re-fillable water bottle

Coffee cups → Thermos

Plastic straws → Metal straws or just don’t use one

Plastic silverware → Bring your own or eat at metal silverware restaurant

Paper napkins → Reusable cloth or just be careful with not being messy

Buying lunch out → Bring your own lunch


In aisles of plastic packaging, it can be hard to buy low-waste groceries. We often create far more waste in our kitchens than we’d think.

Here are a few easy swaps to minimize the garbage in your kitchen:

Small packaged anything → Bulk section (oatmeal, flour, sugar, tea, coffee..)

Plastic container → Glass or cardboard container

Plastic groceries bags → Reusable grocery bags

Plastic produce bags →Reusable produce bags

Foods with large carbon-footprint (like meat) → Foods with low carbon footprint (like beans)

Produce that had to travel far distances (like pineapple) → Produce that is local (maybe at a farmer’s market)

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


In a world that is moving more and more digital, it’s getting easier to minimize the waste that we create while working.

Whether you are a student or business executive, here are a few swaps you can implement in your work:

Notebooks → Laptop

Printing → Laptop

Calendars → Laptop

Contact book → Phone

Post-it notes → Reminders on phone

Dozens of plastic pens → Laptop

To- do lists → Phone or Laptop

Books → Laptop or Kindle

Good luck and happy eco-friendly New Year!

Remember to clap if you liked the article! Follow Sidney Switzer on Twitter for more content.

How To Human

A publication dedicated to guiding you towards self-improvement and success

Sidney Switzer

Written by

Lifestyle, politics, and environment enthusiast. Cornell University graduate with B.S. in Communication, Inequality Studies, and Education.

How To Human

A publication dedicated to guiding you towards self-improvement and success

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