5 Simple Ways to Reduce Rubbish in Your Home

by Jul 25, 2018

Understandably, there is a much-needed push to reduce single-use plastics all over the world right now, including in Australia. Unlike many others, we live in a country where there is no shortage of space, yet that shouldn’t be an excuse to just keep piling rubbish into our landfills. Especially when a lot of the ways to reduce rubbish in your home are straightforward – there really is some low hanging fruit. You will be amazed at how you can reduce the size of your weekly bin by just following these simple tips on reducing rubbish.

5 easy ways to reduce rubbish in your weekly bin  

  1. Know exactly what you can put in your recycling bin.
  2. Understand what your Council accepts at your local Recycling Centre/Transfer Station that can’t be disposed of in your bin.
  3. Compost leftover food waste.
  4. Download a mobile app to see what else can be recycled in your area.
  5. Shop at your local farmer’s market.

Know what you can put in your recycling bin

This is really important because every Council will differ as to what they can recycle. Your best resource is your local Council’s website which will have a Waste/Recycling section, or if you are unsure, just give them a call.

You can also have a look at the inside lid of your recycling bin. There are often illustrations as to what can actually go in the bin. The types of items that are generally accepted are glass bottles, plastic, paper and cardboard.

Whilst it can be useful to look for the recycling symbol on the bottom of your plastic container remember that just because something can be recycled, does not mean it is actually recycled by your Council. The advice from your Council should take precedence.

Here are a few basic recycling ground rules regardless of where you live:

  • Don’t use a plastic bag to dispose of your recycling material or it will just go straight in the bin. If you have ever been to a recycling centre you will know that the process is very labour intensive – the workers have to manually pick through your rubbish to remove unwanted material. They don’t need more work untying plastic bags.
  • Don’t dispose of containers that have liquid or food in them. Rinse your food containers or chuck empty jars in your dishwasher.
  • Remove the lids from bottles and jars before placing in your bin.
  • Flatten cardboard boxes.
  • Don’t put anything that has been soiled, such as paper towels or packaging, in your bin.
  • Don’t dispose of broken crockery in your recycling bin.

Rather than traipsing out to your bin multiple times a day, or forgetting to take the recycling out altogether, keep a recycling bin somewhere handy in your kitchen. Knowing what you can recycle and making it easy to chuck the right items into the bin will help divert some of your household rubbish from landfill.

RELATED: 6 Best Apps to Help with Recycling Household Waste

Find out what your Council accepts at your local Recycling Centre/Transfer Station

In addition to what goes in your bin, your Council will also accept various items and waste streams at your local recycling centre, including hazardous or bulky items. For example, many centres will accept polystyrene, batteries, green waste, paints, scrap metal, fluorescent lighting, electronic waste and large appliances such as fridges. Keep a separate container handy to store hazardous material such as batteries and light bulbs and take them to your drop off point as required.

Some Councils offer tours of their recycling centres. I highly recommend these as they give you a really good understanding of how you should treat your recyclables before putting them in the bin. Have a read of this article which explains the process well.  

recycling cardboard in bins

Compost any food and/or green waste

Once you have a good understanding of what your Council accepts, I would recommend separating out your food waste by keeping a small compost bin in your kitchen.

Food waste makes up about 40% or more of your weekly household bin! Cut this out and your bin will dramatically reduce in size. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Composting in a garden bed. Having trialled lots of different methods over the years I have found the most convenient method is to compost using a worm tower directly in your garden bed. 
  • Composting in an apartment? Buy a Bokashi bin. Councils sometimes subsidise the purchase of these so give them a call to check.
  • Buy some hens or give your food scraps to a neighbour who has hens.
  • Download the Share Waste app for iOS or Android. This app helps connect people who want to offload their kitchen scraps to others who are already composting or keep chickens. There are two options: select either the “I Have Scraps” button to find someone composting near you or the “I Have Compost” option to start receiving scraps.
  • Most Councils run regular green waste collections and also accept green waste at their recycling centres but green waste can also be easily composted at home.

Download the Recycle Smart App

Discover how to recycle over 170 items in over 500 Councils in Australia. The app provides information for every council area in Australia and allows residents to search for both kerbside and drop-off services for a huge range of materials. The app is arranged nicely into categories covering: Automotive, Batteries, Chemicals, Construction, Household, Electronic, Food, Garden, Glass, Metal, Plastics, Paper and Cardboard. 

If you can’t put it in your waste or recycling bin, this app will tell you where it can be recycled or treated. You can download it here. Some Councils have also developed their own app – use this website to see if yours is one of them.

Vegetables in cardboard box farmer's market

Shop at your Local Farmer’s Market

Doing your weekly shop at your local farmer’s market is another sure way of reducing the amount of packaging waste you bring into your home. A lot of packaging can’t be recycled – I’m talking soft plastics such as that used for bread, pastries, fruit and vegetables. At the market, you can either bring your own shopping bags or grab a cardboard box for all your loose fruit and veg. Steer clear of the supermarket where it’s impossible to avoid packaging, even for organic produce.

Pin this post for later!Ways to reduce rubbish Pinterest graphic

Wrapping It Up

Every year the average Australian family produces enough rubbish to fill a three-bedroom house. I reckon we can do much more than eradicate the single-use plastic bags from our homes. Give these five ways to reduce rubbish a try and let me know how you go in the comments below!

Want personalised advice on ways to reduce rubbish, chemicals and toxicants in your own home? My Healthy Home Reviews assess every room in your house. This includes the kitchen, where we can look at reducing waste streams and identify packaging that is harmful to your health. Mention this blog post when you book here and receive 10% off the usual cost. 

Hi, I’m Una. Eco-Lifestyle Coach & Scientist

Una Phelan environmental scientist and eco-lifestyle coach

I create healthy homes and lifestyles that change lives for the better.

When you need straightforward, simple information, I will give it to you. I can cut through the science to give you practical tips for taking charge of your health, your home and workplace.

This means it’s easier for you to get on the right track to an econscious lifestyle.

Whether it’s online or in person, I’ll guide you every step of the way.

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