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41 Ways To Actually Waste Less Of Basically Everything

Replace a bunch of disposable plastic, cut down on your utility and clothing bills, and make your food last SO much longer.

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1. Bring a list with you to the grocery store so you only buy the food you know you're going to eat.

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It also helps if you don't go shopping when you're hungry, but I know in my life, at least, that's not always gonna happen. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Get the "All Out Of..." notepad on Amazon for $7.70.

2. Reduce your packaging waste by shopping from the bulk bins as much as possible. Plus, it just might save you some money!

amazon.com, Krysten Peck / BuzzFeed / Via buzzfeed.com

The first time you go with glass jars to fill, you'll want to stop by the cashier first to get their "tare weight," or how much they weigh by themselves, so the store only charges you for the food you buy, and can subtract that tare weight when you check out. (Just note it on a piece of masking tape on the side of the jar for next time, or something.)

Or you can totally use refillable cotton bags, which have a much lighter tare weight *and* come with it printed on tags that are permanently sewn on. Get a set of six 100% cotton bags (two large, two medium, and two small) on Amazon for $22. (They're machine washable, of course.)

3. And avoid bagging your broccoli in one of those flimsy one-time-use bags by packing your own reusable cotton produce bags.

Loosewarp / Etsy

Get a set of six (two small, two medium, and two large) from Loosewarp on Etsy for $13.59.

4. Store your berries, spinach, lettuce, bell peppers, and all kinds of fruit and veggies in produce savers that really will keep everything day-one fresh for nearly two full weeks. You'll actually have enough time to eat it all before it goes bad!

Natalie Brown / BuzzFeed

I know these work because I've tried 'em, and have been using them consistently for nearly a year now — you can read my full Rubbermaid Freshworks review for more! (They're also 100% top-rack dishwasher safe; I run 'em through all the time.)

Get a set of three from Amazon (a strawberry size and two lettuce-sizes) for $26.99 (also available in three smaller individually for $7.82+). Or get them individually from Walmart, $7.74 for the large and $6.29 for the small.

5. Your bananas, tomatoes, avocados, apples, and other countertop produce will also stay super fresh with different produce savers designed specifically for them.

Rubbermaid / Via Bed Bath & Beyond

Now, I haven't gotten my hands on these to test them out yet, but I promise I will! Based on the early reviews, it seems like they're pretty darn good...

Promising review: "As lovely as it looks, the day of the fruit bowl is over. With stainless steel kitchens this not only looks great but the savings of fresher longer makes perfect sense. I bought one and found it works so well and shows off produce so clearly and beautifully that I went back and bought three more." —LazyDaisy

Get them from Bed Bath & Beyond: the banana size for $24.99, the medium tomato size for $16.99, and a set of four of the smallest tomato size for $19.99. Or get a set with one medium tomato size and one small tomato size on Amazon for $27.79.

6. Tired of buying a bunch of herbs only to have them go bad within a few days? Extend their freshness with an herb saver that will make it easy to reach in and grab what you need.

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Yep, the liner/basket it comes with opens up at the front, so you can pick out your favorite sprigs then reshelve the rest for later. It also works well for asparagus and green onions!

Promising review: "I have been looking for a reasonably priced herb keeper and I found it in this! I am able to fit a number of bunches at a time, and they can keep fresh for a week, on some cases longer. No more wilted cilantro! I like that you can pull the "cage" out for cleaning, I do find that if I have herbs that have smaller stems I have to invert one and then the other right-side up so they can fit." —LH

Get it on Amazon for $14.99 (or if that's sold out, check out a different but still well-reviewed herb saver for $19.99).

7. Then if you *still* have too much of an herb, freeze it in olive oil so you can easily add a hint of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, dill, or oregano to almost any dish you cook.

Faith Durand / thekitchn.com

From the Kitchn. Too much basil? Pesto also freezes incredibly well!

8. While you're at it, freeze your bread, too, and pull it out by the slice as you need it. Just be sure it's protected from the frigid air: You can plop it in a plastic freezer bag (or two, for a double layer) or try a reusable and airtight plastic bread container.

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That way, it'll be too cold to mold! Protecting it with plastic prevents it from drying out. (If you do choose the plastic bag route, please reuse them over and over for multiple loaves!)

Get this bread container on Amazon for $15.99 (or if that's sold out, check out a similar but also well-reviewed bread container for $29.99).

9. Repurpose leftover veggie scraps to make your own stock from scratch, or to infuse your store-bought stock with even more flavor.

Merle O'Neal / BuzzFeed

Collect onion skins and ends; carrot shavings, celery tops and bottoms; garlic tops, bottoms and skins; and more in your freezer, then when you have enough of everything, dump it in a pot with some water, and watch it simmer its way into stock in just half an hour. Here's Tasty's veggie stock recipe.

10. Don't toss something just because it's past its "best by" or "sell by" date. Besides still likely being safe to eat, it could still be perfectly delicious!

11. And eggs can be perfectly fine to eat even weeks past their "best by" date. To easily test one, drop it in a glass of water and see if it floats.

fabulesslyfrugal.com

If it sinks, it's still good to use! But if it floats, you can throw it out. From Fabulessly Frugal.

12. Make microwave popcorn in a silicone popper to avoid wasting the box, each individual cellophane bag, and each paper bag that you leave behind after making popcorn more "traditionally."

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Traditional for all of us raised in the microwave popcorn era, of course. All you'll need are the kernels, which you can get in the bulk bin or just in a single bag/container at your grocery store. Oh! And the popper collapses flat for easy-peasy storage!

Promising review: "Popping my own popcorn saves me money! This popper cleans up easily, folds compactly down, is lightweight, and works like a charm. Couldn't ask for anything more. You can pop without any added oil, but I just love the added flavor of a teaspoon or so of butter!" —NanaD

Get it on Amazon for $16.97.

13. Regrow celery, bok choy, garlic, green onions, and more by simply soaking your food scraps in a cup of water.

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

14. Start saving your compost in a fridge-friendly, odor-blocking bin, and find a local spot to regularly drop it off.

amazon.com, Tom Vellner / BuzzFeed

While this bin works wonders to magically block all kinds of odors no matter where you leave it, if ya keep it in the fridge instead of your counter, your compost is less likely to be moldy by the time you make it to the drop-off site. And it's easy to rinse clean after you empty it, too (or stick in the dishwasher!), because it doesn't have any sharp corners or crevices on the inside where gunk could get stuck. And wherever you live, Google should be able to help you find a good local drop-off spot!

Get it on Amazon for $19.99.

Curious to know more? Read our OXO compost bin review.

15. Or if you have the space and motivation for it, start composting in your own backyard, using a simple compost tumbler.

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It takes about two weeks to finish up an entire load of compost, but it's worth the wait. You can add the resulting dirt to your yard or garden, and your plants will love it. It has two different chambers, so you can fill one up while the other "cooks". And it's a good idea to add plenty of dry leaves and grass clippings to your kitchen scraps to help with the texture of the final product.

Promising review: "My family of four eats a mess of fruits and vegetables, and this has really lived up to the task. The two chambers hold quite a bit, and it's fairly easy to turn. It's been several months and chamber #1 is a beautiful rich black now, with nothing recognizable left except avocado pits and some egg shells. A few things to keep in mind: This is a domestic compost, and it will attract pests and it might stink. It will probably ooze black liquid from cracks and vents. That's all normal. No meat, wheat, or citrus, and a handful of leaves or grass clippings per small load." —NomiAdler

Get the tumbler on Amazon for $85.38.

Alice Yoo / BuzzFeed

16. Pack a small (and clean) pencil bag with a knife, fork, spoon, and chopsticks to create a zero-waste silverware kit perfect for school, work, or travel.

skipthebag.com

You can keep it in your desk, your purse, or wherever makes the most sense for your life. Then forever turn down any offers of plasticware! From Skip the Bag.

No pencil bag to spare? Pick up two kits that come with all the utensils you need plus handy neoprene bags for storage.

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Promising review: "I initially bought these as I have to pack my daughter's lunch for preschool every day. I end up using them just as much as she does as they are the perfect size for my lunches and save me from having to use plastic." —Torie

Get them both from Amazon for $9.99.

17. Swap those single-use Keurig pods for a pack of four reusable K-cups that are easy to fill yourself.

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That way you can continue to use the brewer you love, without the waste! These are pretty much universally compatible; the only models they may not work with are the K400 and Keurig Mini.

Promising review: "The single-cup reusable K-cup is highly cost-effective. A pound of coffee around $6 (Dunkin') will produce 50–75 cups, so 10 cents a cup. With Dunkin' Donuts K-cups running ~80 cents (price from Amazon), it does not take long to pay these off — 20 cups of coffee. This particular style cleans up easy, works well, and the bottom shape means that you can just drop it in. Of the three brands of reusable K-cups we own, this is the best." —Jenn Mottram

Get the pack of four on Amazon for $9.99.

18. Or go the lazy-gourmet route, and enjoy every day pour-over or cold brew — both of these gadgets take basically zero effort and make almost no waste except (compostable!) coffee grounds, while still making delicious single-serve cups of coffee.

amazon.com, Maitland Quitmeyer / BuzzFeed

The auto-drip pour-over couldn't be simpler: you drop in a filter (get a reusable one that fits this device for $8.95), add a few scoops of grounds, pour the boiling water in, then go do something else while it slowly funnels down your delicious brew.

Get it on Amazon for $15.95.

The overnight iced coffee concentrate maker's equally easy: You fill an included reusable filter up with grounds, let everything sit in the fridge overnight, et voila! — you wake up to fresh slow-brewed cold brew. Read our full cold brew maker review for more.

Get a 1-quart maker on Amazon for $24.69.

19. Stick a collapsible container in your car or bag so you can bring your restaurant leftovers home without using yet another one of those styrofoam clamshells.

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Of course, they're also microwave and top-rack dishwasher safe!

Promising review: "What a great product. They fold up nice and fit in my purse to take restaurant leftovers home in. They store well in the cupboard too. They do hold odor a bit but if you pop them in the top rack of the dishwasher it gets the odor out, even with onion!" —Layne Seed

Get this set of four collapsible silicone containers on Amazon for $14.99.

20. Get all of the functionality of disposable plastic bags with none of the waste: try a few reusable silicone bags instead.

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I've personally had a couple of these for a few years now, and they still work exactly the way they did when they were new — which is as a seamless replacement for disposable bags! I run them through the top rack of the dishwasher all the time.

Promising review: "I've tried a LOT of reusable bags as there are a lot of options out there all using a variety of materials. The fabric ones get gross over time. The vinyl ones are hard to clean and aren't usually dishwasher safe. There are other silicone ones that need a separate rod to close them that you can easily lose. This one is the most simple and easy to use. No separate pieces. Can withstand any temperature/microwave/dishwasher/whatever. And if they get gunky they are very easy to clean and I trust that they aren't hiding gross crumbs in any of the crevices." —Megan A.

Get them on Amazon: the snack size for $9.99, the sandwich size for $11.99, and the storage size for $19.48 (8+ colors / patterns available, depending on the size).

21. Upgrade your evening routine with biodegrade-able bamboo or recyclable plastic toothbrushes, because every last bit of plastic waste counts.

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You do have to pull out the nylon bristles from the bamboo brushes before you compost, but that's NBD. Get a pack of four (so you can swap 'em every three months, as dentists recommend!) on Amazon for $10.97.

The plastic brushes are made from recycled plastic *and* you can mail them back (or drop them off at select Whole Foods stores) to be recycled again at the end of their lives. Get a pack of six on Amazon for $16.89.

22. And green-ify your flossing routine with some silk floss. It removes just as much gunk as your typical plastic kind, but without the harmful effects on the planet.

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Yes, you'll technically still be using the same amount of floss, but you won't be throwing away small bits of single-use plastic at the same time. It's 33-yard spool comes packaged in a recyclable, reusable glass container, with a recyclable box. It's flavored with mint and tea tree essential oils.

Promising review: "This is the best eco friendly floss there is! Tastes great, flosses easily, cute little glass bottle, very pleased." —meismeems

Get it on Amazon for $9.99. (This company doesn't seem to make refills, but you can get two refills of a different brand for $12.99.)

23. Ditch those disposable wipes for a pack of three makeup remover cloths that take every bit of product off with just water and a few swipes, and you'll still get to indulge your lazy side.

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Seriously, no extra makeup remover required; just water. Because disposable wipes can and often do contain polyester and polypropylene (along with other more natural fibers), unless they're marked as compostable.

Promising review: "I have no clue how this works, but it does! I was wearing a full face of make up. I mean foundation, contour highlight, eyeliner, seriously the whole nine yards. All I did was wet it and wiped my face, and my jaw literally dropped. This is hands-down my favorite makeup remover." —Heather and Ryne Griffith

Get the pack of five on Amazon for $7.49.

Alice Yoo / BuzzFeed

24. Start by actually taking care of the clothes you already have and love.

BuzzFeed

Here's a bunch of ways to make your clothes last longer.

25. If your clothes break in some small way, fix the problem instead of just resigning them to the donate bin. Button come off your jeans? Pick up a replacement kit that'll have your favorite pair functional again in like, five minutes or less.

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All you do is take a hammer or mallet (or even like, a closed pair of pliers) and lightly tap the backs into the front.

Promising review: "I would definitely buy this product again. The buttons look great and the quality and finish are very good. Easy to install on my pants. They work well with all of my suspenders and seem to be quite durable through several washes." —William

Get a pack of 12 (lol) on Amazon for $8.66.

26. Instantly close up any small tears or holes with some fabric glue you can count on to hold better than those original threads or stitches ever did.

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Promising review: "Know how to sew? I sure don't. A brand new shirt sprung a hole after only one wash, and obviously it couldn't be returned. This was the answer. It's a little tricky to work with the adhesive as it gets wispy as you dab it around, but other than that it dried quickly enough and did not stain. I wore the shirt several hours later with no issues." —Eve Ill

Get a bottle on Amazon for $9.41.

27. And make sorry sweaters (and sofas and throw pillows) look perfectly brand new with the help of a fabric shaver — it will effortlessly pick off years of pills in one go.

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Promising review: "I tried this on one of my favorite sweaters and this has made it look like new! There is height adjustment when using different fabrics, it’s a great feature. Batteries seems to last well. I would recommend de-bobbling on an ironing board and keeping the fabric taut to avoid holes." —W

Get one on Amazon for $15.99.

28. For new clothes on the cheap, host a clothing swap party to motivate all your friends / family / coworkers to clean out the great clothes and accessories they never wear anymore AND help them find something new (to them!) and stylish to wear for free.

ducttapeguitar.wordpress.com

Duct Tape Guitar has an excellent and thorough guide to make this go smoothly, if it's something you want to try! (Ramshackle Glam has some helpful tips, too.)

29. Then donate the leftover items, and recycle the ones that are past their prime.

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You probably have a local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other thrift store happy to take your clothing donations. You can also pack clothes and other items to donate then mail them (for free!) in an Amazon box: read more about the program at Give Back Box, and print your free shipping labels. (Same goes with lots of places where you online shop, including Loft, REI, and many others.)

Something too torn up to donate? Your local H&M probably accepts clothes of any brand for donation (and might give you a 15% coupon in return); Madewell will accept jeans and give you a $20 off a new pair; and of course Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or other thrift stores generally recycle what they can't resell.

30. And of course shop at those secondhand stores, consignment stores, and places like Poshmark to find fashion gems at a discount!

Poshmark

Your carbon footprint stays significantly smaller anytime you opt for something vintage or secondhand over something new. (Of course, there's no shame in shopping for new stuff, either! Love what you love!)

31. Animal shelters would probably love to have any blankets and towels you don't want anymore (just wash 'em first).

youtube.com / giphy.com

Contact your local shelter to be sure, but those are one of many items on the Humane Society's wishlist. There's no need for those to go to the dumpster!

32. And if you still have swimsuits, curtains, pillows, or other textiles you don't want to send to a landfill, you can pay to have them recycled through Terracycle.

terracycle.com

Because yeah, unfortunately recycling costs money, and if a recycler can't make a profit off of your discards paying is sometimes the way to go. (IMHO if this isn't in your budget, don't worry about it.) Fabric and textile boxes start at $103 from Terracycle.

Alice Yoo / BuzzFeed

33. Flip the switch on your ceiling fan so it's blowing the right direction, and your heat and AC systems won't work so much to keep you perfectly comfortable.

mom4real.com

Which in turn can lower your electricity bill, because you're saving electricity! In the winter, you want the fan to blow air upward to push the heat that's risen to the ceiling back down, so you feel it where you're sitting on the sofa. And in the summer, you want it to blow a ~cooling breeze~ on your skin.

But, and this is important! — in the summer, turn. the fan. off. when you leave the room. Fans only make you feel cooler, they don't actually cool the room.

From Mom 4 Real.

34. And if you have big windows that let in lots of heat or direct sun during the summer months, blackout curtains will block some of that light, letting the room stay cooler while giving your AC a break.

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Plus your baby / toddler will have a *much* easier time napping when the sun's not pouring into their room!

Promising review: "My parents do not like to run the A/C in the summer whatsoever. The days they DO run it, it's not efficient at keeping the house cool. The sun faces their room and the living room during the hottest part of the day. This make the rest of the house hotter. My dad loved these curtains. Just cutting out the light has made the upper part of our house much cooler. Now my parents don't have to worry that their room will be a sauna when they don't run the A/C, and when they do it will work more effectively because the curtains are there." —Ashley Barks

Get them on Amazon for $21.99+ (available in seven lengths and 14 colors).

35. Run the dishwasher ONLY when it's 100% full, so you use the least amount of water to clean as many dishes as possible.

cleanmama.net

Your dishwasher uses the same amount of water and electricity no matter how many dishes are inside, so it's most efficient to wait until it can wash the maximum number of dishes.

From Clean Mama.

36. Cut your water use and costs — all while raising your water pressure — by installing a low-flow shower head.

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Promising review: " I ordered one of each for two bathrooms. I have to say the 2 gal/min is just as good as the 2.5. Water is expensive out west so save yourself some money. Plus the 2 gal is cheaper. Its a great shower head. Plenty of water for washing thick hair. I love the design and the feel of the spray from this shower head. It's well-constructed." —sheela season

Get it on Amazon for $26 (three colors, available in 1.5, 1.75, 2, and 2.5 gallons/minute or GPM; the EPA standard is 2 GPM).

37. And you can do the same thing with all your sink faucets, too. These aerators literally just twist on and off, making them super simple to install.

youtube.com, amazon.com

Well, you may need some pliers to help you tighten them, but pretty much anyone can do it. For the most water (and water bill!) savings, look for ones that are between .5 and 1 gallons per minute (gpm) for the bathroom. Just do your research before you buy: they're *not* one-size-fits-all, and you'll want ones that work for your faucets.

Get a 6-pack of Niagara .5 gpm aerators on Amazon for $10.19.

38. Add a clean, dry bath towel when you put wet clothes in the dryer — then remove it after about 15 minutes — to make everything dry faster.

Getty Images

After about 15 minutes tumbling together, the towel will have soaked up a bunch of water from your clothes. Just take it out and hang it up to dry, and let the clothes finish drying faster than they would have otherwise. From here.

39. Or swap out your dryer sheets for a set of six wool dryer balls. They'll help everything dry a little faster, cut down on wrinkles and static, and reduce your plastic use (because yes, most dryer sheets are made with some plastic).

amazon.com

According to the listing, they're handmade in Nepal under ethical working conditions (although they don't seem to be officially ~fair trade certified~). If you end up with too much static, then try reducing the amount of time you let your dryer run!

Promising review: "Now that I've used these more than a few times I can say they’re definitely worth it!! And you’re helping out a good cause!! I have noticed less static with our clothes and it helps that they send a pamphlet with directions. I didn’t know there was a problem over-drying with wool balls and that’s what causes extra static. The penguins are cute! I haven’t seen any dark color transfer to my light colors from the dryer balls so that’s another positive. I highly recommend this brand if you were a skeptic like me!" —Aiko C

Get a pack of six on Amazon for $23.95.

40. Don't forget to get your dryer vent cleaned out once a year (or to clean it out yourself with a specialty brush), because pushing out that excess lint means your clothes will dry faster and your dryer will need less electricity to do its job.

amazon.com, amazon.com

You can always hire a pro for this, but it's a pretty simple DIY. If you happen to own a plumbing snake already, you can use that with this tutorial. Or opt for a specialty brush and pole set that works with your drill instead:

Promising review: "First, let me admit: I didn't think I needed this tool at all, but when the "Auto-Dry" function on our dryer started delivering me damp clothes on a regular basis, I reluctantly agreed to and clean out the vent. It didn't look clogged from the outside, and seemed to be blowing plenty of air there, so I was skeptical but I was ultimately disgusted to see all the gunk this tool pushed through. Whether you're paranoid about burning the house down, or you just have a dryer that isn't working so great anymore, you need to get the lint out of the duct!" —Lego Girl

Get it on Amazon (the brush + 12 feet worth of rods to extend it) for $21.

41. And brush the layers of dust and dirt off of your refrigerator's coils so it uses less power to keep all your food nice and chilled.

frugallyblonde.com

Some newer fridges don't have exposed coils like this (you can always check your manual to see), but if yours does, it's good to keep 'em clean! All you need is a vacuum, a long brush (like this one, $12.77 on Amazon), and someone to help you move the fridge. From Frugally Blonde.

You, after doing even just one or two of these things on this list:

Warner Bros.

The reviews in this post have been edited for length and clarity.

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