How to Reduce Waste & Recycle at Home

Almost every household in Ireland has room for improvement when it comes to reducing waste and recycling correctly to help the environment and our planet. The thought of changing how you run your household can seem quite daunting but there are simple steps you can take to reduce your household waste, recycle properly, and save money.

Ways to Reduce Waste in the Home

1. Use reusable shopping bags

Ditch plastic bags completely and switch to reusable shopping bags for your trips to the grocery stores. Keep the bags in your car or a spot in the house that’s easy to remember when you go shopping. Keep a lightweight canvas tote bag on your person in case you end up needing one last-minute. Reusable bags can also be used when shopping for clothes and books to reduce energy that would be used to recycle paper bags. Reusing is always better than recycling. 

2. Make a weekly meal plan and shopping list

Food waste is a huge issue in most Irish households. We tend to buy too much food and lots of it ends up going off and being wasted. One good way to combat this is by creating a weekly meal plan each Sunday and then creating a shopping list based on this plan. Check your cupboards, fridge, and freezer to see what ingredients you already have and mark them off your list. Get creative with your plan and sub ingredients for what you already have. 

3. Start composting at home

Composting at home is a great way to reduce the amount of waste your household produces. Although we have compost bins in Ireland if we create our own compost pile we are cutting out extra energy that is used for collecting the bins and transporting them to the waste management facility. Compost makes great fertiliser for your garden too. 

 4. Stop using plastic water bottles

Even though they might be made from recycled plastic and can go into your recycling bin - plastic water bottles and plastic food containers contain harmful BPA toxins and use lots of energy during the recycling process. Consider installing a water filter to your tap and purchasing a BPA-free metal water bottle for when you’re on the go. These will last much longer and will save you money. 

Glass containers are a good option for storing food and if you’re ordering take-away try to order from eco-friendly restaurants with compostable packaging instead of plastic. 

5. Buy second hand 

Try to shop second hand wherever possible. Clothes, books, furniture, ornaments, tableware, and electronics can all be found second hand. Visit your local charity shop or search online at Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Done Deal and Adverts to find what you’re looking for. 

6. Switch to reusable or compostable alternatives in your home

Have a think about which items in your home can be swapped for eco-friendly alternatives. Some suggestions include switching paper towels for cloth napkins, using beeswax wrap instead of cling film and buying shampoo and soap bars that are free of plastic packaging. The aim is to reduce energy and waste by investing in items with a long-life span or ones that will decompose in your compost heap. 

7. Have a “no junk mail” sign

Having a sign to indicate that you don’t want to receive junk mail will stop it coming into your home altogether. Junk mail nearly always ends up in the bin straight away so the trick is to avoid accumulating it. 

8. Buy less

A lot of us have wardrobes and bookshelves full of unworn and unread items. Dedicate some time to sorting through them to remind yourself of what you already have and donate any items that no longer serve you purpose. Try to work with what you have for the most part and only buy new things when you are in need of something. It’s worth investing in durable, high quality and eco-friendly clothing for staples such as jeans, jackets, jumpers, and shoes. They might cost more but they will last longer saving you money in the long term and they are better for the environment. 

Shopping local is a great way to help the local economy while cutting out added energy used on airmiles. 

Tip: See our articles on easy ways to declutter your home and how to use the Marie Kondo cleaning method. 

9.  Visit packaging-free supermarkets

One sure way to reduce waste in your home is by shopping at package-free supermarkets. These shops sell produce such as nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables that you can fill glass bottles with to avoid creating any waste. Some zero waste food shops in Ireland include Twig Refill Shop in Clonakilty Cork, Dublin Food Coop in Kilmainham Dublin, Pax Whole Foods in Westport Mayo and The Sustainable Store at the Blackrock Food Market in Dublin. You can also shop waste-free online with Minimal Waste Grocery Ireland. 

10.  Most importantly - know how to recycle at home correctly 

Recycling is only effective when it is done correctly. Otherwise it uses up a lot of energy and resources. Here are some tips to recycle correctly:

  • Only paper, card, rigid plastics, tins, cans, and foil can be put in your recycling bin. Any plastic that can be scrunched in your hand cannot go in the recycling bin. 

  • All items being recycled must be clean, dry, and loose. If even one item is dirty in your recycling bin it can contaminate other items and render the whole bin useless for recycling. This means washing and drying tins, containers, cartons, and bottles. 

  • Some supermarkets and recycling centres accept soft plastics. Create an Eco brick in your home by storing soft plastics inside a 2-litre bottle and take it to your local facility when it is full. 

  • You cannot put glass in your recycling bin - it needs to go to your local bottle bank. 

  • Labels and lids can be left on recyclable items.

  • You can recycle electrical items for free at your local WEEE recycling point.

  • Clothes and shoes cannot go into your recycling bin. Donate them to your local charity shop or clothing bank bin. 

  • Food waste, soft plastic, clothing, ash, glass, soiled nappies or tissue, garden waste, electrics or batteries should never go in your recycling bin. Discover more recycling tips on REPAK’s website.


Tip: Learn how to make your home more energy efficient by improving your BER rating


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