Skip To Content

    16 Easy And Doable Ways To Create Less Waste In 2019

    If you gave up plastic straws and bags in 2018, here are some eco-friendly changes to make in the new year.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI β€” prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    2018 was the year a lot of us started making an effort to create less waste, and be a better friend to the oceans, planet, and bees.

    Maybe you started composting, swapped tampons for a menstrual cup, or repaired something instead of throwing it away β€” whatever you tried, it made a difference!

    If you're looking to make even more changes in 2019, here are some things to try β€” and tell your friends about:

    1. Swap your tea bags for loose leaf tea.

    Lubo Ivanko / Getty Images

    If you're someone who loves tea and who also composts, there's a pretty high chance you assumed the two good habits went hand in hand. Sadly, this isn't always the case, since most tea bags contain plastic. Even if you do buy a tea that's sold in polypropylene-free bags, the plastic-lined boxed and plastic wrap that most tea bags come packaged in is still unnecessary waste. Loose leaf tea is commonly packaged in reusable tins (and can be a lot more flavorful than bagged tea).

    If you're new to loose leaf tea, silicone tea bags are super cute and reusable.

    Get a pack of six from Amazon for $9.99.

    2. Shop in brick-and-mortar stores rather than online.

    rawpixel / Unsplash

    Online shopping is great, right? You don't have to leave the comfort of your home (or office), you can filter things from low to high while imagining what it would be like to be a person who could filter the opposite way, and if you don't like something β€” you can always return it consequence-free, right?! Well, it's actually a more complicated than that.

    Each year, around 5 billion pounds of retail returns end up in landfill. So, if you find yourself less likely to buy something you're going to return when shopping in-store (*raises hand*), try and do that as often as possible. Shopping IRL is also a super easy way to cut down on excess packaging, especially if you remember to take your own bag.

    3. Swap your sheet mask for a home-made one or a product that's sold in a pot.

    @underthingshop / Via instagram.com

    Sheet masks may have become synonymous with the self-care movement, but from a sustainability perspective, they're not exactly great. If you're trying to avoid single-use plastics at all costs, consider trading in your favorite sheet mask for one that's packaged in a recyclable pot or tube. Lush has a large range of masks that suit every skin type, and if you return five empty pots to a store for recycling, they'll give you a free face mask.

    Get one face mask pot from Lush for $9.95+ (available in 17 versions).

    4. Always make a shopping list before you go to the grocery store.

    Apple

    There are a million pros to writing a shopping list (never forget that one annoying ingredient again!), but a key perk is that it can lower the food waste you create. Planning meals in advance, and only buying what you need for those exact meals, prevents fresh food going bad in the crisper and that pile up of brown bananas, pressuring you to either make banana bread or declare defeat and toss them in the trash.

    5. And keep track of what's in your fridge.

    http://@plant.living.mama / Via instagram.com

    None of us try to buy too much food β€” it's just what happens when you go to the grocery store without the faintest idea of what you have to home. To save another trip, most of us will risk doubling up on the essentials, only to come home and realize we now have more scallions than anyone could get through in a week.

    6. Learn how to bring food back to life before throwing it in the trash.

    AfricaImages / Getty Images

    Did you know that an ice bath can bring crunchy freshness back to wilted lettuce? Or that a sprinkle of water and some time in the oven can make stale bread soft again? Well, now you do! Before you waste any food, challenge yourself to try and find a way to make it edible again.

    7. Trade in your paper towel for washable cleaning cloths.

    amazon.com

    In 2017, Americans spent around $5.7 billion on paper towels. Not only is that a whole lot of money going to waste, it's also a whole lot of just, well, waste. Paper towel is easily replaced with washable towels that do just as good a job without contributing to landfill, or cloth napkins that will make you feel like a Very Fancy Person when you set your dining table with them.

    Get a roll of reusable bamboo towels from Amazon for $7.99.

    8. Swap your liquid laundry detergent for powder.

    Spyderskidoo / Getty Images

    If you've already cut down on waste in the kitchen and in the bathroom, it's time to move your focus to the laundry. Most liquid laundry soaps come in thick plastic packaging, so looking for laundry powders that are packaged in paper boxes, reusable tines, or are sold without packaging in the bulk section of your grocery store.

    Get a box of powdered laundry detergent on Amazon for $18.04.

    9. Get a bamboo toothbrush.

    Bogdan Kurylo / Getty Images

    It's estimated that more than 850 million toothbrushes end up in US landfills every year. So, while it may feel like you don't go through enough toothbrushes for them to make a big contribution to the waste you create, they actually do. Bamboo toothbrushes can be composted, so make a great alternative to plastic ones.

    Get a four pack from Amazon for $7.99.

    10. If you have a baby, try cloth diapering.

    amazon.com

    You can do it all the time, only when you're at home, or just every now and then β€” either way, any cloth diapering is going to save a whole lot of waste. Disposable diapers take around 500 years to decompose, and each year an estimated 20 billion of them end up in landfill β€” yikes. If that's not enough to convince you to make the switch, remember how incredibly cute cloth diapers look.

    Get a six-pack of highly rated cloth diapers from Amazon for $32.99 (available in two style packs).

    11. Buy toilet paper that's packaged in paper, not plastic.

    http://@celiac.in.the.raw / Via instagram.com

    Unless you want to go down the family cloth route (no judgment!), you're going to have to keep buying toilet paper. When shopping for TP, the most planet-friendly choice is always going to be the product with the least packaging, which is normally a recycled toilet paper, wrapped in more paper. Delightful!

    If you want to feel extra virtuous when buying toilet paper, check out Who Gives A Crap. They donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation around the world. Their rolls are made from 100% recycled paper and come delivered in plastic-free packaging.

    12. Be a conscious gift-giver on holidays and birthdays.

    Svetlana_nsk / Getty Images

    Gifting food and experiences are both thoughtful and sustainable gifting options. This year, if somebody you know says they don't want any gifts β€” or don't need any more stuff β€” listen to them and respect their wishes. If you insist on gifting something, go for something they can use (food! bath salts! a candle!) or something they can do (theatre tickets! a massage voucher! a pass to their local zoo!).

    13. Buy a refillable pen.

    Patcharin Simalhek / Getty Images

    There are few finer things in life than writing with a Good Pen β€” you know, the kind of pen that feels sturdy in your hand and hits the paper oh so smoothly? Even better is the fact that a lot of Good Pens are refillable, making them an excellent low-waste option. Quit your scratchy disposable pen and get something that will last you years.

    14. Swap your regular razor for a safety razor.

    amazon.com

    If you're a person who shaves, swapping your plastic razor for a safety one is a simple way to save money and waste. Razors are damn expensive and wear out easily, but a safety razor can last a really long time. All you need to do it switch out the blades when they go blunt.

    Get a safety razor from Amazon for $29.99+ (available in four styles).

    15. Try soaking dried beans and legumes, instead of buying them in a can.

    Peangdao / Getty Images

    If you're vegetarian β€” or just a chickpea or bean fan β€” you likely go through a lot of cans. And though cans are recyclable, beans, lentils, and peas are easy to get with zero waste. Grab them dried in the bulk section of a grocer (if there's one near you!) and soak them as needed. Not only are soaked beans and legumes tastier than canned, they're also more affordable.

    16. And if you're physically able, chop your own fresh fruit and vegetables rather than buying them pre-packaged.

    Sara Dubler / Unsplash

    Pre-cut and -packaged food is incredibly convenient, but for those of us who are physically able to peel and chop food ourselves it's a wasteful, and often expensive, choice to make. Even buying less packaged food will make a difference, so try and keep your groceries as plastic-free as you can.