10 Ways to Reduce Waste

People often feel overwhelmed by the idea of reducing waste, but through simple and small lifestyle changes you can make a big difference!

Here are my top 10 tips for reducing waste in your everyday life with highlights from Canadian small businesses who are making very cool Eco-friendly products

The social media icons under each shop are clickable and lead to the business pages!

  1. Invest in Reusable Shopping Bulk Bin Bags 

  2. Switch to Sustainable Cleaning Products

  3. Ditch Single Serve Water Bottles

  4. Skip the Plastic Cling Wrap

  5. Pack a Lunch

  6. Skip the Disposable Paper Towels

  7. Recycle Ink and Toner Cartridges

  8. Stop using disposable Makeup Pads/Wipes

  9. Repair and Upcycle Instead of Tossing

  10. Opt out of Junk Mail

1. Invest in Reusable Shopping Bulk Bin Bags 

Do you shop from bulk bins? Instead of taking home a dozen disposable plastic bags and throwing them in the garbage, try these reusable nylon bags from the Kootenays based Etsy shop: Kootsac

“[Owner Morgen is a] textile artist and clothing designer who saw the need for an alternative to throw-away plastic bags when buying bulk food and produce in local natural food store[s].” — Morgen from Kootsac

CC image to Morgen at Kootsac on Etsy

“Kootsac bags are lightweight, strong, washable and reusable and are designed to hold nuts, grains, flours, spices, herbs, dried fruit and even produce.” — Morgen from Kootsac

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2. Switch to Sustainable Cleaning Products

Many cleaning products on the market today are not only dangerous for the environment but for our health, too!

When shopping for sustainable cleaning products:

  • “Choose products that use renewable resources such as pine oils, citrus, vegetable, seed, etc.
  • Check if it has low Volatile Organic Compound content
  • Patronize only products that list all their ingredients
  • Make your own non-toxic cleaning products using ingredients like baking soda or vinegar.
  • Buy “Green” and “Eco-Friendly” products. These manufacturers support the environment and we should support their products too.
  • Petition [congress] to require makers of home cleaning products to disclose all the ingredients.
  • Look for the Design for the Environment (DFE) label
  • Look for specific ecological claims such as “biodegradable in xxx days”, “no phosphates”, “no phthalates” or “plant based”” — (http://www.theworldcounts.com/shop/guides/why-use-eco-friendly-cleaning-products)

Finding products that are 100% natural can be challenging, but there are some great option out there!

If you’re dealing with laundry stains, check out the Eco-laundry bar from the Edmonton based Etsy shop Polyorganics

“I decided to make my own because I spent a lot of time trying to find 100% natural soap and I could not find any. Even if it said “natural”, it still had chemicals in it.”
— Polina from Polyorganics 

CC image to Polina at Polyorganics 

“Our soap is formulated without: animal testing, animal ingredients, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, petroleum, silicone and other chemicals you don’t want on your skin.” — Polina from Polyorganics 

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3. Ditch Single Serve Plastic Water Bottles

“More than 480 billion plastic bottles were sold worldwide in 2016. That is up from about 300 billion only a decade ago” (www.theguardian.com).

We can no longer ignore the plastic bottle epidemic, but we often feel stuck and end-up buying plastic water bottles out of desperation when we’re out and about.

The easiest way to curb the habit of purchasing disposable water bottles is by carrying your own reusable water bottle!

There are businesses making some excellent sustainable water bottles that you’ll want to carry with you at all times like the crystal fusion water bottles from the Calgary based Etsy shop: Zovaria

These bottles are “hand-made in small batches by Canadian artisan and wellness-motivator, Stacie Rae, in Chilliwack, BC.” — Zovaria

“We want people to see that choosing an eco-friendly product can also be choosing health and beauty. Zovaria benefits everyone—especially our planet.” — Stacie Rae from Zovaria

CC image Stacie Rae Zovaria on Etsy
CC image Stacie Rae Zovaria on Etsy


“Now, instead of purchasing countless plastic bottles filled with spring water, we can eliminate the plastic bottles and use an eco friendly, borosilicate glass bottle—instant spring water from any tap!” — Stacie Rae from Zovaria

Extra bonus? “We have only two parts to clean with our bottles, as well as a wide mouth for easy access.” — Stacie Rae from Zovaria

Extra Extra bonus? Zovaria has kindly offered FREE SHIPPING (Canada & U.S.) on their Etsy shop for you all! Use coupon code ECOBB

For more information on these bottles check out Zovaria’s FAQ section.

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4. Skip the Plastic Cling Wrap

Over half of the world’s plastic thrown out in 2015 was plastic packaging. That’s over 141 million metric tons” (www.earthday.org).

That’s A LOT of plastic, but when we look around our homes it can feel overwhelming to think of reducing our plastic waste when so many products are made with disposable plastic.

An easy alternative to something like plastic cling wrap is using reusable beeswax foodwraps like this set from the Winnipeg based Etsy shop: LilGreenAcornApparel

“Pretty much every item I make is ecofriendly. All our Montessori inspired toys are made from reclaimed wood, and our clothing is natural hemp, linen, upcycled cotton and Ramie, we also make all our buttons by hand from fallen tree branches. A lot of work, but absolutely worth it.” — Eveline from LilGreenAcornApparel

CC image Eveline LilGreenAcornApparel on Etsy

“Beeswax has been known to have antimicrobial properties. I learned this in first year biology growing bacteria and adding different household items such as beeswax, honey, and lemon juice, etc. I was surprised at how well beeswax, honey and coconut oil prevent bacteria from growing.” — Eveline from LilGreenAcornApparel

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5. Pack a Lunch

“About one trillion single-use plastic bags are used annually across the globe. That’s nearly 2 million every minute” (www.earth-policy.org).

Ready for another shocking statistic? If you don’t pack your own lunch and are opting for takeout, take a moment to consider this: “Takeout orders account for around 269,000 US tons of plastic waste that has entered the oceans” (www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org).

An easy way to help to reduce plastic waste and waste from takeout containers is to pack your own lunch in a reusable lunch kit. **Bonus points for bringing your water bottle and beeswax wrap for sandwiches and snacks!

For something sustainable, well-made, and stylish try these lunch kits from the Squamish based Etsy shop: WaterShedWaxCo.

“I enjoy creating products that are well designed in functionality and style, that are useful and reflect the Pacific Northwest lifestyle.” — June from WaterShedWaxCo

CC image June WaterShedWaxCo on Etsy
CC image June WaterShedWaxCo on Etsy

June has also shared a new item that will be posted in her shop soon: the cutlery roll set (shown above)!

“These are great for taking your own utensils to lunch rather than using plastic ones!” — June from WaterShedWaxCo on Etsy

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6. Skip the Paper Towels

544,000 trees could be saved each year if each US household used just one less roll of paper towels” (www.betterplanetpaper.com).

That’s A LOT of trees! Think of what a difference it would make if people stopped using paper towels altogether?!

Instead of purchasing all disposable paper towels, try substituting with a sustainable option.

Creative crafters like Lindsay from LittleFeetProducts have created reusable towels called unpaper towels!

 “I like to make products that help you reduce your waste in your own home.” — Lindsay from LittleFeetProducts

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CC image Lindsay LittleFeetProducts on Etsy
Little Feet Products
CC image Lindsay LittleFeetProducts on Etsy

“Etsy has a carbon-offset program that invests in emission reduction projects. They are the first major online shop to offset 100% of their carbon emissions. This means our shipping emissions are offset!” — Lindsay from LittleFeetProducts

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7. Recycle Ink and Toner Cartridges.

“It takes 1,000 years for a cartridge to decompose [or] even more when it is inside a landfill. Each year 300 million of these cartridges are thrown away. This amounts to 75,000 tons of trash” (www.inktogo.com).

Luckily, places like Staples recycle used cartridges! My local Staples has a recycling bin for used cartridges right in front of the printer ink section. Call you local Staples for more information.

8. Stop using disposable pads/wipes

A 2015 Guardian article reported “The results of Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) annual beach cleanup [found] the number of wet wipes more than doubled between 2013 and 2014. Thirty-five of the non-biodegradable cleaning cloths were found for every kilometre of beach” (www.theguardian.com)

There are many different types of wipes out there but a particularly big market is focused on makeup wipes.

Makeup can be tricky to remove and so people often rely on makeup wipes to remove stubborn product; however, these seemingly small wipes add up fast and, worse yet, as the article above noted, people flush these items down the toilet!

A great waste reducing option is to invest in reusable facial pads and use your favorourite natural cleanser to wipe your face clean.

The Oromocto based HumbleHomesteader  Etsy shop sells flannel facial pads that are soft and reusable!

“This is my EARTH to take care of” — Darlene from HumbleHomesteader

CC image Darlene at HumbleHomesteader on Etsy

“We are modern day Homesteaders, so many of the eco friendly things we do have been done for over 100 years. Some examples are making pretty much everything from scratch, (eliminating excess packaging) using things until they are no longer useful, raising as much of our food as possible and recycling and up-cycling.” — Darlene from HumbleHomesteader

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9. Repair and Upcycle instead of Tossing

We live in a disposable society. It’s often rare to see people repairing or reusing their purchased products once they’re worn or damaged, but this is a wonderful way to make the most out of an already produced item!

Toronto based Etsy shop, SewItWasByJudy upcycles items into beautifully crafted items including aprons, clothing, and these baby dresses & skirts!

“I absolutely love taking something that once was and refashioning it into something completely new and wearable!” — Judy from SewItWasByJudy

CC image Judy at SewItWasByJudy on Etsy
CC image to Judy at SewItWasByJudy on Etsy

“I also really enjoy the thrill of the hunt – finding that special something in a thrift shop that I can take apart and sew new life into it! — Judy from SewItWasByJudy

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Shop here

10. Opt out of Junk Mail

It blows my mind when I see how much JUNK they shove into everyone’s mailboxes each week! NO ONE need 9 grocery store flyers, 7 takeout menus, and 6 credit card offers!

While you can choose to recycle the waste, you can also choose to opt out of receiving junk mail.

In Canada opt out by leaving a note on or inside your mailbox: “No junkmail, please.”

There are SO many other great ways to reduce waste and lower your carbon footprint, but the options listed above are a great start!

I would love to hear how else you reduce waste in your home in the comment section below!!

Stay Curious,

NOTE– I was not sponsored to write about these sellers. I simply researched and found Canadian sellers making cool eco-friendly products 🙂


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Hello! My name is Britney and I am a writer specializing in life writing.

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