Easy No-Waste Hacks That Help Reduce The Number Of Things We Throw Out

By Larissa C September 19, 2021

Let’s be honest: we all know that we are living in difficult times. Since the human race started inhabiting this planet, we have certainly left our mark on the earth, for better or worse. Our most precious possession is our planet and its resources, yet we haven’t been taking care of it as we should. However, we also have some good news: if you have just started paying attention to the environment and want to help it, you can still do a lot. Even if you start doing little things, your actions can go a long way towards helping. Better late than never, right? Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and take some notes because, in this article, we will show 45 eco-friendly tips you can follow to help save the environment!

Use sustainable confetti

Confetti and glitter are two of the top symbols that pop up when we think of partying. However, not many people know that confetti is quite harmful to the environment, especially if it’s plastic confetti because it takes years for that material to degrade.

Photo credits of @LilianaHRead/Twitter

This woman suggested a sustainable way of not surrendering confetti but still helping to save the planet. You can use 100% natural confetti made of dry tree leaves. All you have to do is buy a hole puncher, grab some leaves from your backyard, and voilà! 

Reuse old clothes

Unless you are a minimalist who only has a couple of different outfits, you probably have some old clothes lying around your wardrobe. We all have those old clothes. Did you know that cotton fabric takes approximately five months to decompose? 

Photo credits of buffnuggies.com

While five months doesn’t seem that long, it’s plenty of time for your old clothes to cause harm to the planet if you throw them in the garbage. Instead of doing that, you can donate your old clothes. Alternatively, you can use nail polish or other types of dye to create a cool design and revamp your old clothes so you can use them again!

Turn shampoo into homemade soap

Do you know when you get to the end of your shampoo bottle, and there’s always that little bit of shampoo that we can’t get out of the bottle? In this next tip, we’re going to show you how you can reuse that bit of shampoo and help save the environment.

Photo credits of pictolic.com

After 24 hours, you’ll have your very own DIY soap. If you want to make more, go out and collect those half-empty bottles from your friends and family and make soap for everyone. This is a perfect hack if you want free soap and less waste for the planet.

Use your own utensils at work

Plastic utensils are pretty helpful when you are at work and have to buy food during lunch break. However, instead of accepting the plastic utensils that restaurants offer to customers, you can bring cutlery from your home and use that.

Photo credits of frame.brightside.me

All you have to do is wash an old makeup bag and keep your utensils there. You can keep them clean by washing them at work. The best part is that these utensils and the case you’re going to put them in won’t take up a lot of space on your bag!

Restore old shoes

Just like old clothes, you can also restore old shoes. While this task is slightly more demanding, it’s another excellent way of helping the environment and saving some money in turn. You may not know this, but there are many chemicals involved in the making of shoes, and that’s why they can be bad for the planet.

Photo credits of ZeroWaste/Reddit

When you throw a shoe away, it’ll probably end up in a landfill or an incinerator. In the former, they can take up to 40 years to decompose. If they are taken to the incinerator, they will release chemicals into the atmosphere when they are burning. That’s why we recommend that you take your old pair of shoes to the shoemaker and have them restored!

Save the plastic bags

As much as we would love to eradicate every single thing made of plastic from this world, we can’t do that. And, sometimes, we can’t even keep them out of our lives completely. If you have a cloth bag, you can take it with you to the grocery store and put your items in it.

Photo credits of ZeroWaste/Reddit

However, there’s a solution for those who don’t have a cloth bag yet and use the plastic bags they give us at the store. Instead of throwing these plastic bags away, you can store them somewhere in your home and re-use them many times.

Make your own candles

While candles may seem pretty inoffensive, they are not suitable for the environment. Candles are made of paraffin, and they release toxic materials into the air when you burn them. If you can’t avoid lighting candles, there’s still something you can do to help save the planet.

Photo credits of Shrek/Reddit

Instead of buying new candles, you can make your candles using the ones you already have. All you have to do is heat the candles and collect the wax. Then, you can shape the wax with your own hands and create your homemade candles!

Use up all the food

If you can’t follow any of the tips above, you can certainly follow this next one. Not all of us use confetti or have old shoes to be restored, but we all eat food and sometimes end up wasting it.

Photo credits of GoodRisingTweets/Reddit

It may not sound too helpful, but being conscious is already beneficial. If you have some vegetables or other foods that can be ground, try not to throw them away once you get to the ends of these foods. Get a grinder (or a blender), turn these foods into powder or mush, and add them to other meals.

Giving a new purpose to paper

If you’re a student, you probably have a bunch of study notes on your desk. Most people — even those who are no longer students — have old notes and a bunch of paper that don’t have a purpose anymore.

Photo credits of lyssyl

Instead of throwing away these notes and contributing to the pollution of the planet, you can give these stacks of paper a new purpose — gift wrapping. Just make sure that none of your notes have inappropriate writing on them, okay?

Start saving those aluminum wine lids

Are you the kind of person who appreciates drinking a glass of wine every once in a while? Some people enjoy wine so much that they collect wine bottles and put them on display. At the same time that that’s a “fancy” thing, it’s also quite good for the environment.

Photo credits of ZeroWaste/Reddit

However, the bottles themselves are not the only things you can collect. You can also reuse the aluminum lids that protect the cork. That is, if you are an artistically inclined person, you can always try to create art with the tops (as the person in the image above did). If not, you can simply collect the bottles and try to leave the lids on.

Turn old fabric into patchwork!

Earlier in this article, we gave you a tip on creating new colorful styles for your old shirts so you can wear them again. However, that tip only works if the clothes still fit you. In case they don’t provide you anymore, don’t worry. Here’s another way you can reuse them and help the planet:

Photo credits of toptalent.com

Get all the old fabric and turn it into art! We all love good patchwork. Depending on the culture you’re from, you probably saw a lot of patchwork around the house when you were little. The best part is that it’s not that hard to learn how to do patchwork, and it is a great pastime!

Create natural packages

Organic fertilizer is a type of fertilizer that is naturally produced. Thus it is less prejudicial than other fertilizers. Fruit and vegetable peels and leaves are two examples of organic fertilizers we can find at home, and you can use them in your garden if you want.

Photo credits of thebetterindia.com

However, if you don’t have a garden and you want to reuse these fruit leaves, here’s a useful tip. This grocery store used banana leaves as a zero-waste packaging for greens. Indeed, you’ll find a way to incorporate this tip into your home!

Creating food decor

If you own a bakery or enjoy baking at home, this next tip is for you. Sometimes, the food that we’re baking doesn’t turn out as expected, and we have to bake it again and again until we get it right. The thing is: what do we do with this food that didn’t work out?

Photo credits of demilked.com

Gingerbread biscuits are one of the most challenging recipes to create. These little guys are super fragile and will break to pieces upon the slightest impact. Instead of throwing them away (at some point, you’ll get too full to continue eating the leftovers), use these leftovers as decoration for a cake or a pie. This may sound simple, but it’s already a step in saving the planet.

Don’t throw away your old pans

According to science, it can take up to 500 years for aluminum to decompose in a landfill. That’s half a millennium that it takes for that old aluminum pan you have at home to decompose. Quite a lot of time, right?

Photo credits of philadelphia/Reddit

Instead of throwing away that old set of pans and oven trays, you can donate or sell them. Alternatively, you can give the pans away to a store that rents pans. Yes, that is correct. There is a store where you can rent pans and give your pans to rent to other people.

Create things out of wool

Even if you live in a warm place, you probably have a wool sweater or shirt lying somewhere in your closet. Wool outfits are a great fit for cool days, but this fabric does wear out quite fast. Because of that, it’s not unusual to see people getting rid of wool clothes.

Photo credits of demilked.com

If you have old wool clothes that you are not going to use anymore, you can donate them or give them a new purpose. If you’re skilled with needles, you can turn your old wool sweater into a comfy bed for your pet. Amazing, right?

Reusing is the key

At this point, it is pretty clear that reusing the old things that we have at home is one of the best ways to help save the environment. Once you look at some of the things you can do with old stuff, you realize that you don’t have to buy new things all the time.

Photo credits of acidcow.com

For instance, let’s say that you want to revamp your little garden. Instead of buying flower hangers and new decorations, you can always use that old trampoline that’s been hiding in the garage for ages. This is one of the prettiest flower beds we’ve ever seen, so this tip is undoubtedly worth it.

Restoring old furniture

Keeping our homes as zero-waste as possible is not an easy task. But all the trouble is worth it when the ultimate goal is to save our precious planet. If you have an old piece of furniture at home and you’re thinking of buying a new one, reconsider your decision after seeing this next tip:

Photo credits of ZeroWaste/Reddit

This person had this antique display cabinet they inherited from a family member. However, they needed different furniture, and this cabinet wouldn’t suffice. Instead of buying new furniture, this person decided to turn the 1-piece cabinet into two pieces of furniture: a bookshelf and a centerpiece!

Another type of pet bed!

Remember that tip we just gave you, the one that suggested you should turn wool outfits into pet beds? Well, that tip is meant for those who are skilled with knitting and sewing. If you’re not that type of person, but you still want to create a sustainable pet bed, this tip is for you.

Photo credits of pleated-jeans.com

You probably have one or two (or maybe even more) water carboys at home. Cut them in half, put a cushion inside it, and voilà! You’ll have a pet bed, and you’ll be helping save the planet. This is also a good idea to help stray animals, as they’ll have shelter in these sustainable pet beds.

Make your own utensils

If you know how to work with wood, you’re going to love this next tip. You don’t even have to be an expert to create what we’re going to suggest. All you’re going to need are some wood and a handy friend.

Photo credits of ZeroWaste/Reddit

Using wooden utensils in the kitchen is not anything new. What we’re suggesting here is that you stop using those silicone, plastic, and even aluminum utensils and start using sustainable, wooden utensils. We’re not suggesting tossing what you have! But when you want to get new ones, try this out.

Use dead trees to make cat climbers

Another way you can use wood and trees is to make a cat climber. If you have a cat at home, you know how much they love climbing on things. So, instead of buying a plastic or metal climber, why not create a sustainable one made of wood?

Photo credits of pictolic.com

This one requires more effort and skill than most other tips on this list. First of all, you have to find a dead tree that has a shape you can work with. Creating the actual climber also requires quite a lot of work — but, once again, we suggest that you hire a carpenter.

Create a sweater-made pet bed

Here is another type of pet bed that you can make yourself. Your pets will probably love this next one, as it’s going to be one real comfy bed. Like some other tips on this article, this next one is not easy to follow — but look on the bright side: you’ll be helping save the planet!

Photo credits of successfullifelounge.com

If you have some old sweaters and shirts in your closet, collect all of them and follow the steps provided in this instruction drawing. When you are done, you will have a comfy pet bed made of reused material!

Use old t-shirts as rugs

If you want to give a new purpose to your old shirts, you can donate them. However, some shirts are just not suitable for donation anymore as they are too worn out. In that case, you can use those shirts as cleaning rags.

Photo credits of upcycling/Reddit

This woman captured two different moments of her shirt. The picture on the left is when the shirt was still relatively new. The image on the right is how her shirt looks now. Because the shirt now has some holes in the back, she decided to turn it into a cleaning rag.

Restoring old furniture

It’s not unusual to find old furniture when you’re walking the streets of the United States. Instead of buying furniture, what if you retrieved these old pieces of furniture from the streets and restored them yourself? It’s not always an easy task, but it is undoubtedly a rewarding one.

Photo credits of barnorama.com

Not only will you be saving the planet when you restore old furniture, but you will also be keeping some money in your pocket. If you and your community get together, you guys can even create environment-friendly spaces built exclusively with restored furniture!

Give a new purpose to plastic bottles

PET — or plastic — objects can take up to 450 years before they fully decompose. That’s a long time and these materials are damage the environment. Instead of throwing them away, you can give a new purpose to plastic bottles.

Photo credits of Costco/Reddit

If the empty bottle you have at home looks this cute, it can be used as decoration. If the bottle is just like any other round, plain bottle, you can simply fill it with other liquids that you can use around the house, like bleach — just don’t forget to label these bottles!

Turn planks into flower beds

If you have unused wooden planks at home and want to start a little garden on your balcony, this next tip is for you. Instead of buying ready-made flower beds, you can create your own. All the while, you’ll be helping the environment.

Photo credits of barnorama.com

Instead of throwing those old planks away, you can reuse them in the making of flower beds like the one you see in the picture. All you have to do is revitalize the planks by scuff-sanding and then painting them. Making the actual flower bed is also not that complex, as you can see in the picture.

Use DIY makeup removers

If you wear makeup, you know how you always have to buy new makeup removers and cotton balls. However, that can be a costly thing, not to mention that all those pads you’re throwing away are contributing to the pollution of the planet.

Photo credits of bananorama.com

In case you want to change your habits, you can start by simply using different makeup removers. If you have an old cotton blanket at home, you can make multiple round cuts on it, and you’ll have a bunch of makeup removers. If you’re good at sewing, you can even decorate them a little!

Create a desk lamp using your camera

Depending on where you live, you’ve probably seen a lot of good stuff being thrown away in the garbage. Lots of people collect those things and give them a new purpose. This person, for instance, found an old camera that didn’t work anymore but still looked intact.

Photo credits of glavcom.ua

While he couldn’t use the camera to take pictures anymore, the man who collected this camera had a great idea. He turned it into a desk lamp! Even the tripod is made of sustainable material, and this camera lamp looks cool. This is a great idea if you have a camera that you no longer use.

Make a rug out of old fabric

Remember when we showed that patchwork quilt earlier? Here’s another crafty idea that you may like. This one is slightly easier than that one, which required that you know how to sew. If you have old fabric at home, you can make your own round rug.

Photo credits of bobbyskimchi

See how amazing this looks? All you have to do is collect all the old clothes you have at home, cut them into strips, and then you just start braiding. If you mix the fabric, you can create this colorful rug!

Re-utilizing books from the dumpster

If you’re an avid reader, the notion that some people throw books in the trash may sound appalling to you. Indeed, it’s kind of crazy to think that books, which are sources of knowledge and happiness, are thrown in the trash as if they were unusable after only one read.

Photo credits of @creapills/Twitter

Have you seen a bunch of books in the garbage near your home? If you want to help save the environment, you can collect these books and try to develop a sustainable library in your area. This would take some help from your community. Think of how rewarding it will be when this project is up and running, and you are creating a new generation of avid readers!

Another type of DIY makeup pads

As we have done before, we’re going to present you with a different alternative for one of the things we showed here. We have shown you three separate sustainable pet beds you can make, and here is a second way you can make your own makeup removers.

Photo credits of bobbyskimchi

Because the skin on our face is so sensitive, makeup removers must be made of materials that won’t cause any harm to the skin. If you have any wool at home and you’re good at knitting, you can make your own makeup removers (instead of cutting round patches from an old blanket).

Reutilize tin boxes

Do you know those tin candy boxes? Most people have those boxes at home, and they never know what exactly to do with those boxes once the candies are gone. Well, if that’s your case, you’ll probably like this idea.

Photo credits of ZeroWaste/Reddit

Instead of throwing them away or leaving those tin boxes unused, you can reutilize them for new purposes. If you cut some cardboard pieces and use them as dividers, you can use these tin boxes to store medicines. Alternatively, you can use it to store jewelry.

Refurbish the furniture instead!

Over the years, furniture has become increasingly fragile. That’s because companies want you to need to buy new furniture within a couple of years. However, instead of doing that — which is prejudicial to both the environment and your finances —  you can refurbish the furniture you have at home.

Photo credits of tessactm

Don’t worry; we’re not suggesting that you should refurbish the furniture yourself. In your city, there are probably a bunch of skilled carpenters that could use the business. The best part is that not only will you be maintaining a zero-waste lifestyle; you’ll also save money by doing this!

Use sustainable bags

For years now, we have been listening to recommendations on using sustainable bags instead of plastic bags. While you can buy sustainable bags at most stores these days, you also have the option of reusing what you already have and making your bags.

Photo credits of tessactm

In case you have old clothes at home, you can turn them into a sustainable bag. Another option that you have is to use paper posters and make a paper bag. Isn’t that awesome? We just hope you don’t try to use the papers ones on a rainy day!

Redesign old clothes

This tip is dedicated to those who are skilled at sewing. If you want to live a sustainable, zero-waste life, you can start by reusing your old clothes instead of throwing them away. For those who are good with a sewing needle, here’s one of the things you can do:

Photo credits of myog/Reddit

As you can see, this tip does require that you have considerably high skills with a sewing needle. This person turned an old jacket into three different pieces of clothes and accessories. A pair of shorts, a bag, and a bucket hat.

Buy the staring trash bin!

If you have kids at home, you know that it’s essential to teach them how to take care of the planet from a very young age. If you do that, you’ll be instilling in them a sense of responsibility that will last for a lifetime, and that will be passed onto future generations.

Photo credits of awfultwatwaffle

If your kids have a bit of a hard time understanding why they have to help the environment, this bin is a perfect way of getting them interested in this subject. Give the bin a name and try to come up with a game — your kids are going to love it!

Make sustainable toys for children

Still on helping children understand why it’s crucial to save the planet, here is another great idea. Instead of buying new toys for them all the time, why not try to create sustainable, zero-waste toys? Check this great idea out:

Photo credits of crafts/Reddit

Most toys are made of plastic materials and leave their mark on the environment. If you want to change that, you can look on the internet for tips on creating sustainable toys for your children. This mother, for instance, made this toy kitchen entirely out of unused materials she had at home!

Buy from zero-waste stores

Is it important that we, as individuals, do what we can to save the planet? Of course. However, this task would be much easier if big corporations were also helping. Thankfully, store owners are already changing their mentality and adding zero-waste products to their stores.

Photo credits of ZeroWaste/Reddit

The person who owns this shop took a whole new approach to zero-waste shopping. Instead of adding a few different sustainable products, they opened an entire section dedicated to selling products made of recycled material. Buying from stores like this means you’re helping the planet!

Use balloons as gift wrapping paper

Have you just thrown a birthday party at your home and now you don’t know what to do with the balloons that stayed behind? That’s a problem that we all face. Instead of buying rubber balloons, you could purchase helium balloons made of foil.

Photo credits of aworkstation.com

When we buy rubber balloons, they go to the trash once they are popped, but that kind of rubber is harmful to the planet. Now, if you buy foil balloons, you can reuse the balloons as gift wrapping paper on other occasions! 

Resort to DIY ideas

DIY is a great way of saving money and saving the planet. There are so many DIY ideas you can find on the internet that it’s even hard to choose just a few. This next idea is quite simple to execute — but it’s already a step in adopting a zero-waste lifestyle.

Photo credits of pleated-jeans.com

If you have any wooden twigs at home (or easy to find in your region), collect them and create simple designs for your home. All you’re going to need is a few twigs and some yarn or thread to keep them in place. By doing this, you can make soap holders, cup coasters, table decorations, and much more!

Don’t forget to reuse water

If we’re talking about trying to maintain a zero-waste lifestyle so we can save the planet, it’s apparent that we are also going to talk about water. Water is one of the most precious things on our planet, and we need to save water before we run out of it.

Photo credits of madgaz182

Did you know that you are wasting about 5 to 7 gallons of water when you flush the toilet? Nowadays, some eco-friendly models save a bunch of water when you flush the toilet, but you’re still wasting water. This designer created this sustainable toilet that comes equipped with a tiny sink. This way, whenever you wash your hands or brush your teeth, that water will be reused to flush the toilet!

Missing gift wrapping paper? Here’s a solution

This next zero-waste hack is both useful and hilarious at the same time. We all have that funny friend that makes us laugh all the time. If it’s their birthday and you’re giving them a gift, you can try to be funny and make them laugh.

Photo credits of unbatch.com

In this person’s case, they weren’t intentionally trying to make their funny friend be the one laughing at a joke for once. The truth is that they realized they didn’t have enough gift wrapping paper. Instead of buying more paper, they cut a piece of cardboard and drew on it. We bet the friend who received this gift laughed out loud!

Don’t throw worn-out clothes away

Throughout this entire article, we’ve been saying that you shouldn’t be throwing away your old clothes. You can always give them a new purpose or try to change their style, so they’re still usable. If you want to do the latter, here’s a great tip.

Photo credits of Visablemending/Reddit

We all have that pair of jeans that has a hole in them. Depending on the environment, we can’t continue wearing that pair of jeans, and the only apparent solution is to throw them away and buy a new pair. However, there is a sustainable solution to that problem. Instead of getting rid of the ripped pants, you can always sew the holes and even add cute details over them!

Live in a sustainable house

While this tip can seem a bit far-fetched, it’s not entirely impossible to follow. If you live in a major city, you’ll likely find buildings that are made following specific eco-friendly standards. Why not move to one of those places (if you can)?

Photo credits of buildwithrise.com

If you don’t want to live in an apartment building, you can always build your own sustainable house. The house you see in the picture is an example of that. This house is made entirely out of recycled materials and ecological bricks.

Reuse tin can lids

Earlier in this article, we suggested that you should save those aluminum lids that come wrapped on the top of wine bottles. If you are not a wine kind of person but eat canned food, don’t worry. We also have a zero-waste hack for you.

Photo credits of .blabbitygabbity

Instead of throwing the can lids away, you can cut them out of the can and reuse them for picture hanging! Always keep in mind that you should follow this tip with extreme caution, as can lids are really sharp.

Don’t waste water from food!

If you have a sustainable garden at home, you’re probably always looking for ways of maintaining your garden healthy, strong, and beautiful. Using organic composts is a great way of growing your plants, and here’s a great compost: food water.

Photo credits of greencitylivingco.ca

Yes, food water. Do you know the water that we use to boil pasta or vegetables? Instead of throwing the water down the drain once you are done cooking, you can use it as organic compost. This way, your plants will thrive, and you won’t be letting water go to waste!