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8 Easy Ways to Cut Down on Your Family's Trash Output

Green up your family's lifestyle with these simple and easy ways to reduce household garbage.
Young Boy Holding Seedling in Hands
Updated: December 1, 2022

Over time, the average family can produce quite a lot of garbage, but you can reduce your family's trash output with a few lifestyle changes that everyone can get on board with. With these simple ideas, going green with your kiddos has never been easier.

Use Washcloths and Ditch Those Paper Towels

Going Green Stack of Washcloths

Photo source: Flickr/eraphernalia_vintage

If you normally use paper towels to clean up messes and spills, you probably know just how much these seemingly handy towels can contribute to household waste. When you want your family to go green, make the easy switch from paper towels to washcloths. Not only do washcloths work more effectively than paper during cleanup, but they can also significantly cut down on your trash output. You can find a wide array of colors at any home store, or you might try crocheting or knitting your own washcloths using cotton yarn.

Share Magazines with Friends

Everyone loves a great magazine, but if you've ever had a subscription, you know how tall that magazine stack can grow in a short period of time. One option - create a magazine swap with your friends so that you can enjoy each issue without creating a ton of waste. If your friends aren't interested in this idea, check with your local library - many libraries accept magazine donations and provide a magazine swap table in their building.

Switch to a Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Going Green Steel Water Bottle

Photo source: Flickr/joebart

Everyone needs to drink water throughout the day. If you use plastic, disposable water bottles, this means you might end up with a lot of plastic in your trash can. This can especially become a problem for those of you who have children in sports. The solution - invest in a few stainless steel or glass water bottles that you can refill again and again. Although plastic refillable water bottle might be cheaper in the short-term, you don't want to have to worry about plastic leaching into the water your family drinks. Stainless steel or glass water bottles provide a safe solution for keeping your family healthy and hydrated.

Grow Your Own Food

If you've ever considered putting in a vegetable garden or raising your own chickens, knowing that growing your own food can decrease your family's trash might just give you the motivation you need to get started. When you grow produce in your garden or raise your own livestock, this reduces or eliminates all the waste created from buying packaged or bagged foods at the supermarket. It may take a little effort to get started, but the green benefits can far outweigh the amount of work in the long run.

Bring Your Own Bags

Going Green Reusable Grocery Bags

Photo source: Flickr/tyger_lyllie

Bring a Reusable Mug to Coffee Shops

Enjoying a cup of joe from a coffee shop may feel like one of life's greatest pleasures, but all those disposable coffee cups can really add up in the landfill. An easy way to help your family go green is to bring your own reusable mug each time you visit a coffee shop. Best of all, some coffee shops will actually give you a discount when you use your own mug.

Take Lunch with You

Going Green Packing Lunch

You may not realize it, but eating lunch out at a fast food restaurant can produce a lot of garbage. From the wrapper on your hamburger to the bag it came in, fast food generates a lot of waste. Instead of eating lunch at a fast food restaurant every day, help your family reduce the amount of trash you create by packing a lunch from home. Along with reducing trash, packing your own lunch will also provide you with a potentially healthier meal.

Put In a Compost Bin

Although paper and plastic often fill up your garbage can at home, food scraps can also contribute to a landfill if it's sealed in a garbage bag. Reuse your plant scraps by letting them create healthy, rich compost for your garden. You can buy a compost bin at any home improvement store, or try making your own using a wood scraps or a few wood pallets.

Looking for more going green ideas for your family? Check out these 8 everyday alternatives to help your family go plastic-free.

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