Five tips for reducing your household waste

Do you ever feel like you have too much stuff? Or do you cringe at the sight of your bulging rubbish bag at the end of the week? Apart from the most ardent minimalist, we could all do a bit of de-cluttering around the house – as well as reduce the waste we produce every day. The average Kiwi couple sends about 1.5 tonnes to landfill each year, but it’s possible to massively reduce that with a few smart changes at home. Homestar, New Zealand's environmental and energy efficiency rating for both new and existing homes, has five helpful tips for helping you to reduce your waste.

TIP 1 The average Kiwi home sends about a tonne of waste to landfill each year. Put your rubbish bin on a diet: purchase from bulk bins and local markets, choose products that have no (or minimal) plastic and packaging, and use reusable coffee cups and shopping bags.
TIP 2 Separate waste in the kitchen, so it’s quick and easy to deal with – use a small bench-top bin for food scraps, and a box under the sink or by the door for clean recycling. Check which grades of plastic your local council accepts, and prep your recycling by rinsing and squashing all containers (leave the lids on, too). Explain to your family how the system works so they’re all on board.
TIP 3 Food waste can become goodness for the garden. Decide whether a worm farm or compost bin works best for your lifestyle and the space you have available (some councils offer subsidies, so ask yours). Worm farms don’t take up much room and can even suit people who live in a city flat.
TIP 4 If you’re renovating or building new, ask your builder to set up a REBRI construction waste plan. This will reduce the amount of construction waste sent to landfill, as often materials such as bricks, wood and windows can be recycled.
TIP 5 One person’s trash is another person’s treasure! Give away unwanted furniture and household items through online communities such as Freecycle or DonateNZ. Organise a clothes swap, when friends come together to swap clothes and accessories, and any leftovers go to charity.

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