10 Easy Ways to Dramatically Slim Your Bin

Depressed by how much you throw away? Follow these 10 steps to shed unsightly waste.


  1. Ditch the paper towel habit

Nothing fills your bin faster than cleaning up with paper towels. Forests were cut down for this, and quitting is easy. Cloths, rags or reusable kitchen roll will do the job and they don’t have to be re-bought and schlepped home from the supermarket every week.

For a super skinny bin: Swap paper tissues for hankies (or, kindest on the nose, old t-shirts cut up into squares) and exchange your foam washing-up sponge for a reusable unsponge or biodegradable one.

2. Boycott superfluous sachets

Porridge in single-use pots, coffee pods, cubes of washing powder in individual plastic packets…..have these people never heard of spoons? And the cost! A recent survey* found that porridge oats in superfluous sachets costs between 4 and 10 times the price of the same bought loose or in a simple cardboard box. Someone is having a laugh. Let us reclaim our right to decide our own portion sizes.

3. Wash with……soap and water

Wet wipes can be really useful when outdooors without easy access to running water. When indoors, however, their utility is less clear. Packets of these things also take up storage space and have to be continually re-bought. If you use wipes to remove make up, using coconut oil and a washcloth will leave your skin feeling soft and lovely and also save you cash. If you use wipes to clean the house, a rag or a cloth with the eco-friendly cleaner of your choice will do the job, and costs less. Single-use baby wipes can be replaced with reusable ones  or use cut up towels (wet them before you leave the house and carry in a waterproof bag).

We are SO lucky to have easy access to clean water – let’s use it.

For a super skinny bin: You can also swap cotton wool pads for reusables and plastic cotton wool buds for biodegradable ones.

4. Get your milk and juice delivered

Rinse and return. It’s the zero waster’s dream. See that mountain of plastic cartons disappear from your life, and you don’t even have to wash the bottles yourself. If it comes in an electric van, even better.

These people do cow’s milk and a range of fruit juices in returnable bottles, or see what’s available local to you.

There’s also this map of places where you can get milk directly from farmers, many of which will allow you to refill your own bottles.

5. Beware the fruit and veg danger zone 

The fruit and veg aisle of your local supermarket is nothing less than waste central. Multipacks containing more than we can eat, all wrapped in voluminous plastic. Pointless stickers and, as you’ve probably heard by now,  mountains of fruit and veg are thrown away for failing to pass a beauty contest.

Enough is enough. The fightback against food waste and fruit fascism starts here.

1. Buy only what your household will eat. 2. Buy fruit and veg loose in your own reusable produce bags. 3. Learn to love fruit and veg in weird shapes, and support shops that sell them (which includes some supermarkets). 4. Remember that chopped fruit in plastic tubs with single-use cutlery is an enviro-crime. Refuse to be complicit.

6. Check out your local packaging-free store

These are a great initiative that deals with two issues in one smooth move: the massive problem of food waste, and the troublesome volumes of single-use packaging waste that no-one seems to know what to do with. You can buy just what you need, and no more, and no-one will try to sell  you multipacks or BOGOFs.

Single-use packaging can be a real bin-fattener, and as Bea Johnson puts it, paying for this is just investing in landfill – all we are really doing is buying poor quality bags and containers over and over again, and paying to have them all disposed of over and over again. So see if there is anywhere local to you where you can take your own bags and buy goods loose – new places are opening up all the time.

7. Say goodbye to tampons

Why continually to buy these and throw them away,  buy and throw away,  for years, when a menstrual cup can be bought just once and will save you £££s?  According to Mooncup, it pays for itself in 6-8 months. Available in pretty designs, what’s not to love about it?  And reusable pads are available everywhere.

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8. Detergent Refills

See what’s available in your local health food store. If you shop in a major town, there will be somewhere that offers refills of washing-up liquid, laundry liquid and fabric conditioner.  Or order refills online via Splosh.

For a super-skinny bin: Keep an eye out for places that refill other products, such as wine, olive oil and shampoo.

9. Just say no to crap

Don’t allow rubbish into your world in the first place. You are worth more than this. Leaflets and brochures you know you’ll never read, novelty pens, ugly merchandise you only accepted because it was free, the cheap-but-not-designed-to-last fashion accessory – our earth is being polluted and factory workers exploited so we can fill our lives with junk. Just say no.

10. Use the bin as a last resort

Only throw away what cannot be reused, donated, recycled or composted. And remember, recycling is for life, not just when you happen to be in the kitchen. So keep recycling bins in every place you currently have a waste bin (including at work). Eventually you will free your space of waste bins altogether.

* I made notes as I was going round the shops: 20p for 100g loose oats in my own bag from the health food store, 22p for the same in a recyclable cardboard box from the supermarket, 74.7p in non-recyclable sachets, and a full £1.91 for 100g porridge in a carton designed to be used once then sent to landfill.
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