Going Greener: Crafty Ways to Reduce Household Waste

Mind-Melding Monday is tapping into collective knowledge from around the world to solve problems and come up with the best answers to all sorts of questions.

Each week I’ll pose a question or two on the blog for readers to respond to while I investigate on my own and seek expert input, whether it’s for research, curiosity, awareness, or conversation.

The following week will address the results and ask something new.

Oh man, I think I opened a can of worms last week. I realized I do a fair amount with The Three R’s, but a little research showed how little that adds up to. We rank with the average household in Brazil for sustainability, which is pretty decent for Americans, but it’s not enough.

The planet’s in trouble. Let’s go zero waste!

That’s a huge subject for one day. Pump the breaks.

Today’s post will focus on common ideas for reducing and repurposing waste and, as I continue slowly getting my house “UnStuffed“, I hope to elaborate and/or post experiments later with the excess.

Also, as with any other MMM, this post will be updated with new and relevant info so keep adding to the discussion!

Questions from last week:

What are some unusual ways to reduce waste?

What do you reuse or repurpose?

Community Answers

Going Greener: Crafty Ways to Reduce Household Waste


This is the biggest part of a low-waste lifestyle because you can’t put out what you don’t take in.

Before you buy or use anything, ask yourself if it’s necessary and worthwhile. Can you borrow or make it? If all signs point to purchase, look for used items which tend to be higher quality than cheap versions of new things and will end up in landfills otherwise.

If you must buy new, go for quality. The $10 skillet I bought at Walmart stayed intact for about 6 months. The $25 cast-iron we got will last forever with proper care. They’ll both exist for longer than I will–one will still serve its purpose.

Avoid Paper when possible. Try e-billing, e-subscriptions, ceramic plates, rags instead of paper towels, and reusable toilet paper if you’re really daring.

Plastic cutlery and straws – Find or make a reusable set. If you’re out and about without, go for finger foods, skip the straw, and sip.
Water bottles and coffee cups. Even if they are recyclable and recycled, it takes a lot of resources to do. Carry your own.

I’m sitting at my own kitchen table right now and this is how I roll. They don’t spill, stay hot/cold longer, and follow me everywhere–along with the books.

Plastic bags – Make or buy reusable totes. Here are 50+ free patterns.

Small containersBuy in bulk when you can, it saves money over time as long as you manage it well.

Disposable feminine hygiene products. It’s cheaper and better for the environment to use a menstrual cup or reusable pads.

Anything you can (and are willing to) make.

Make It Yourself

Forget packaging, unnecessary chemicals, and constant trips to the store. Here are a few ideas to try.

Here’s a Pinterest board full of DIY health and personal care products.

Homemade Cleaners Recipe Cheat Sheet - all purpose spray #1, 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, 8-10 drops essential oil (optional). All Purpose spray #2 - 2 cups water, half teaspoon washing soda and dish soap. Daily Shower Spray - half cup peroxide, half cup rubbing alcohol, 1 tsp dish soap, 1 tbsp dishwasher rinse aid, 3 cups water. Furniture Dusting Spray - 1.75 cups water, 0.25 cup vinegar, 2 tsp olive oil, 8-10 drops essential oil (optional). Glass and Mirror spray - 1c water, 1c rubbing alcohol, small squirt of dish soap. Soft scrub - 1/3 cup baking soday, 3 tbsp dish soap. Dawn Laundry Soap - 1/3 c washing soda, 1/4 c borax, 2 tbsp Dawn Dish soap, 1 gallon hot water. No-grate Powder Laundry Soap - 2 cups each Washing soda, borax, and Oxi-Clean. Toilet bowl cleaner - 1 3/4 cups water, 2 tbsp borax, 1/4 cup liquid soap (dish or Castile), 20 drops tea tree oil. Hardwood floor spray - 1 cup distilled water, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, small squirt of dish soap. Recipes Courtesy of TheMakeYourOwnZone.com.

Photo from The Make Your Own Zone. Check it out for more details and DIY projects.


Recycle as much as you can. Check availability in your area. If you’re really devoted, push for better access near you.

Is composting considered recycling, repurposing, or reusing? I suppose a few things are combined.

There are many ways to compost if you haven’t found uses for food waste/scraps such as sharing with pets (safely!), making soups/broths, homemade vinegar, flavored butters, oils, and dressings.

You don’t have to spend $1500 on a setup like this when one can be easily made at home.

55 gallon homemade compost barrel

My neighbor made this. We share.

While it would be handy to have an automatic, in-kitchen composting unit, isn’t that just more stuff? We fill an old ice cream bucket, by the way.

Reusing as is:

Plastic zipper bags, lidded grocery tubs, jars, bottles, cans, paper and plastic bags, etc.

Many household items can be reused combined with objects of the like. Partial crayons, candles, soap, deodorant, and chapstick can be mixed/melted together and reformed.

(Keep containers for making your own.)


Refused as much paper as possible and still have stacks? Use it up.

Old clothing, towels, and linens can be made into yarn, children’s clothes, cleaning rags, curtains, and quilts. Here’s a list of 40 ways to upcycle clothing. I’ll be trying some out!

Jars can be used for many things aside from bulk storage. If you don’t reuse/repurpose them, the hippy next door probably doesn’t have enough. Give them away.

You don’t have to hoard these things either. If you’re ever looking for containers and relatively-clean materials, raid the local recycling. I do it! I’ve found some really cool vases, planters, canisters, and little potion bottles in there.

I just admitted to dumpster diving, didn’t I?

Coffee Grounds – Generate a lot? Here are some surprising uses.

Plastic bags20 awesome ways to repurpose them.

Milk Jugs – Considering we go through about a gallon a day (our dirtiest habit), these 37 reuses are worth looking into.

Never waste bananas. If they go dark, put them in the freezer for banana bread, smoothies, or a cold snack.

Want to do more?

Check your ecological footprints here.


Further Reading

7 Things you use every day that are bad for the environment the swaps to make instead

Practical and Easy Ways to Transition to a Zero Waste Lifestyle

100 ways to repurpose and reuse broken household items – I’ve barely skimmed through this and am wondering how many things here might be considered “broken”. 😉

I hope you find this useful and help minimize the huge burden our species puts on the environment.

Question for next week:

Let’s make this one fun–there are serious projects to work on here!

If you could visit or live in the setting of any book or film, where would you go?

Let me know if you’ve got a question for MMM


30 thoughts on “Going Greener: Crafty Ways to Reduce Household Waste

  1. There’s a lot of info in there (it’s a hard post to put together), and i’ll probably try the table / wood cleaner recipe. I do try to reduce waste, but, man, i do draw a line at thetoilet paper and the menstrual pads. No way there, eek.
    As for the book/movie setting…. most of what i read is fantasy and/or post apocalyptic, so, unless i have a super power, i’d rather stay away. But, if i’m strong, have extra strength or something, I’d go to Velaris – from A court of mist and fury. Scratch that, I’d live there as a nobody, no strength and a popper too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. With the recipes, try small batches. I wasted a lot of peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap on a recipe for “Homemade Oxy-clean”. It worked well but doesn’t store. Some cleaners might just be smelly or ineffective.

      The toilet paper is a tough one. I’d do better by the environment by cutting milk than swapping TP, so I’ll consider that again first. Cups are good—pads? to each her own!

      I would like to read this book of which you speak but have yet to acquire a copy. I was surprised the library doesn’t have it on audio but just learned how much they have to pay for and yeesh!

      What will happen to us when the libraries are gone?

      Will we upload into Velaris for pleasure?

      I don’t know the place. What are the downsides to powers?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, i only want to try the wood cleaning one, and seeing i have a lot of wood in my house, half a cup would do. If i add a few drops of grapefruit esesence oil it’ll last longer and it’ll smell great too.
        As for Velaris, you’ll want to start with the first book in the trilogy – A court of thorn and roses. It’s a great series i’m considering re-reading whenever i get into a slump.
        What you mean about the power?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If you could live in any book or movie setting, what would it be and why?

    Mm, now there’s a question you don’t hear or get asked every day …. probably something from Harry Potter Heather – huge fan 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post and something I’ve been getting passionate about recently. Check out the Lucy Siegle book and the Surfers Against Sewage website – plastic overuse really is destroying out planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a list I would promote. It gives ties to others who are encouraging something worthy of sharing. Great suggestions and hey, I follow someone here on WP who pays her bills going through peoples trash and selling the items on Ebay and to a local auction house. She lives in Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Part of my clutter problem was “starting and eBay store” when I had no idea how much work it’d take to list certain items. Even with a good (but reasonable) profit margin, some things aren’t worth it.


      1. I totally understand that!! I’ve only accumulated a savings once in my life and that was recently. I did so good by not spending and kept adding and then…I allowed myself to rediscover journaling and $3,000 later, I have a shit ton of paper to make journals with. And while I can make them, I can’t seem to let go of the papers 😂😂😂😭😭😭😭 so I now have a studio full of vintage papers, vintage ads, book pages and books, omg….I couod go on but you know what? I love it!! I get happy when I use it, or even just look at it.

        Liked by 1 person

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