Top tips for cutting waste

Originally published in our supporter magazine Earthmatters, these tips on reducing waste proved an instant hit.

At home

  1. If available, use your kerbside recycling scheme. Read how Friends of the Earth made this possible with the Household Waste Recycling Act.
  2. Avoid disposable batteries. Use rechargeables, now widely available on the high street or online.
  3. Cleaning the kitchen? Use cotton cloths - not disposable kitchen roll.
  4. Recycle your old clothes by donating them to your local charity shop.
  5. Buy reconditioned electrical appliances from organisations such as CREATE.
  6. Take your empty cans to a Save-a-Can bank or visit the Steel Can Recycling Information Bureau.
  7. Polyprint Mailing Films accept clean polythene wrappers and bags for recycling.
  8. Stop mobile phone going to landfill - recycle them via Shop 4 Charity, and help raise vital funds for Friends of the Earth.
  9. Reduce the amount of annoying junk mail pouring through your door - sign up with the free Mailing Preference Service.
  10. Having a shower instead of a bath can save about 40 litres of water (avoid power showers though as they can use more water than baths). Install spray taps for new sinks, as they use less water than normal taps.
  11. Recycle glasses - take your old specs to a high-street opticians and they'll send them to Vision Aid Overseas.
  12. Buy a sandwich wrap for your packed lunch - and save those wasteful plastic bags.
  13. To recycle your drink and Tetrapak cartons, send them to a mill for recycling. Download address labels (not freepost) and instructions from Tetra Pak Recycling.
  14. Why not try eco-friendly sanitary products such as the reusable Mooncup.
     

    At work

  15. Find licensed waste sites to recycle or disposal of your business waste in England and Wales.
  16. Start a paper recycling scheme at work - for more info about community recycling, contact the Community Recycling Network
  17. Reduce waste and energy consumption in the workplace - contact Global Action Plan
  18. Only print when absolutely necessary. 
  19. If you do print, use both sides of the paper. 
  20. Use software such as FinePrint to reduce paper usage by up to 50%. 
  21. Turn off appliances such as PCs and TVs when not in use - and avoid leaving them on standby. 
  22. Don't throw away old computers - sell them (eBay) donate them (digital-links / donate-a-pc) or recycle them (wasteonline)
  23. Does your company generate waste that could be used as craft resources for schools and youth groups? Find out more from the Children's Scrapstore
  24. If each of the UK's 10 million office workers used one less staple a day, that could save 120 tonnes of steel a year.  You can even fold over the corners of the pages to secure them, or use a paperclip if necessary. 
  25. Install a roller towel at work instead of using disposable paper towels. 
  26. Unwanted CDs? Get info about recycling CDs and DVDs, or Disk Recycling offers a free service for large collections, and a postal address for smaller amounts. 
  27. Get a pad of 100 Friends of the Earth re-use envelope labels printed on paper made entirely from post-consumer waste for £2.50. 
  28. Stop subscribing to magazines that you don't have time to read (and save yourself a few quid) - your local library will probably stock a good range.
  29. Vending cups can be recycled via the Save a Cup scheme. However, it's much better to encourage your company to use reusable cups and glasses rather than disposables.
     

    Out & about

  30. Compost kitchen and garden waste. Contact your local council for details. 
  31. Avoid energy-hungry patio-heaters in the garden - put on an extra layer to keep warm. 
  32. Try candles for outdoor lighting in the evenings and save electricity. Citronella or beeswax candles will also keep insects away. 
  33. Use retreaded car tyres instead of buying new. Get more info on what to do with your tyres
  34. If you have to use the car occasionally, reduce the environmental impact of your journey. 
  35. Save water by installing a water butt - and water your plants without turning on your hosepipe. 
  36. Refuse plastic carrier bags - keep a reuseable or cotton one handy when you go shopping. 
     

    More from less

  37. Get fruit and veg from a local grocer or veggie box scheme instead of highly-packaged supermarket goods. 
  38. Buy refills and save money for products you use in large quantities eg washing powders, condiments, liquids etc. 
  39. Order fresh bottled milk from your milkman - glass bottles can be reused approx 20 times. 
  40. Making your own lunch instead of buying over- packaged snacks could save you more than £4 a day. 
  41. Join a toy library to borrow toys and give old ones to other families. 
  42. Don't buy. Hire videos and DVDs, and borrow books from a library. 
  43. Recycle old curtains or exchange them at The Curtain Exchange
  44. Join the 15 per cent of parents who now use cloth nappies for their babies; contact the Real Nappy Campaign
  45. Give cinema or concert tickets as gifts instead of disposable goods. 
  46. Clearing out the attic? Try selling your stuff rather than taking it to the dump. Check out online auction sites like eBay where you can donate a proportion of your sale to a charity of your choice - including Friends of the Earth. 
  47. Try reclamation yards, skips, auctions, and secondhand shops when doing DIY jobs. 
  48. Mend, re-upholster or restore old furniture before buying new. 
  49. Hire tools or borrow from friends or family for odd jobs, rather than buying your own. Donate unwanted tools to charities that send them to developing countries - visit Tools with a Mission or Tools for Self Reliance
  50. Send free e-cards instead of paper ones to save paper and cash.