Waste Production: Eco-Friendly Checklist

Direct production of garbage is the most obvious and often the most measurable area of improvement for most homes to become more sustainable.

So many of us have grown up with poor sustainability habits, go-to products, and home set ups that we may not realize the harmful impacts of.

Check out this list of items that can get you thinking about ways to reduce the waste production in your home. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, so feel free to download our checklist and add your own items as well!

Want to check out more than just this topic? See our full eco-friendly home checklist!

Checklist

  • Avoid disposable batteries
  • Bamboo brush or comb
  • Beeswax or plant based wax wraps
  • Biodegradable pregnancy test
  • Biodegradable scrubbers and sponges
  • Biodegradable trash bags
  • Compost food scraps after a meal
  • Eco-friendly condoms
  • Organic or DIY insect spray
  • Washable cloth towels
  • Bamboo toilet paper
  • Bamboo toothbrush
  • Bar body soap
  • Bring your own shopping bags
  • Conditioner bar
  • Dish soap bar
  • Food producing landscape
  • Glass bottles & storage containers
  • Laundry detergent sheets
  • Menstrual cups
  • Mouthwash tablets
  • Reusable bottle soap tablets or bar hand soap
  • Reusable coffee or tea filter
  • Reusable cotton, hemp, or bamboo facial wipes
  • Shampoo bar
  • Stainless steel safety razor
  • Toothpaste bites in a reusable jar
  • Use natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda
  • Waterpik flossing or biodegradable floss picks
  • Buy from thrift shops
  • Reuse
  • Natural, renewable, and recycled building materials
  • Recycle
  • Bidet
  • Cloth diapers
  • Grow your own food
  • Look for environmental certifications
  • Review ingredients/materials used

Download & Print

You can make a copy of this checklist in Google Sheets, allowing you to customize however you see fit. You can also print a copy from Google Sheets once it’s copied if desired.

View the sheet first and make a copy via File > Make a copy or simply click the “Make a Copy” button below.


Avoid disposable batteries

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Rechargeable batteries have become more and more common in recent years. They're usually available for only slightly more than standard disposable batteries.

Disposable batteries take a very long time to break down and can be the cause of toxic chemicals like mercury, cadmium, lithium, and lead (1) making their way into our water supply and land. While they don't fully prevent this risk, switching to reusable and chargeable batteries can significantly increase the lifespan and prevent massive volumes of batteries from making their way into landfills.

Bamboo brush or comb

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Sustainable hair brush options are often found to be no more expensive than comparable plastic versions, however, this can vary depending on the style, brand, and quality.

Though thankfully, hair brushes and combs in general are not single-use, they still contribute greatly to plastic pollution that takes hundreds of years or more to break down.

Beeswax or plant based wax wraps

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: You can usually find a pack or roll of reusable food wraps for under $20.

Plastic wrap for food is not only a nightmare to use without it getting stuck, torn, and tangled - it's wasteful! Reusable wax based food wraps are easier to use and can be used again and again.

Biodegradable pregnancy test

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Typically about $8 to $15, around the same cost as a standard pregnancy test.

Though this may not be as much of a frequent use item as many other hygiene products, every bit counts - plastic pregnancy tests still take 500 years or more to decompose. Multiply that by the everyone that uses a pregnancy test and it starts to add up. Fully plastic-free, biodegradable, and even flushable pregnancy tests are starting to become more available.

Biodegradable scrubbers and sponges

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Price will vary depending on the style and maker, but can typically be purchased for within $15 for a handled scrubber or a pack of sponges.

A decent dish scrubber doesn't need to be anything fancy if you use the right natural cleaning agents - and they definitely don't need to be plastic! So many commonly available products create microplastics that make their way into our oceans and landfills.

Biodegradable trash bags

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: You can get our large roll of durable compostable trash bags for just $15.29.

If we're trying to be more conscious of the waste we produce, it wouldn't make sense to wrap it all in plastic, would it? So many households discard plastic (often recyclable) items, wrap them in a plastic bag, and send it off to a landfill. Switching to durable, compostable trash bags can assist in the decomposition of discarded items and avoid additional unnecessary plastic waste.

Compost food scraps after a meal

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Composting at home can be free if you simply take a compost pile approach! Although, there are other options available for tumblers, bins, or more high-tech home composting systems.

Investing in creating your own home composting process can be very rewarding in addition to more intentionally disposing of different waste types. Especially if you're a gardener, home composting food scraps and other compostable items, is a great option.

Eco-friendly condoms

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: These higher quality condom brands are typically a few dollars more than most big name brands. But are still around $10 - $15 for a 10 pack.

Condoms are a difficult product to find a fully sustainable solution for. While there are definitely more eco-friendly options than others, almost all condoms are made from latex to some extent, which is not biodegradable. They're also always single-use. However, there are brands that offer condoms that are free from harsh chemicals, animal products, and made from sustainably sourced natural rubber - which is a step in the right direction.

Organic or DIY insect spray

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Recipes for insect repellents either for plants or for humans often consist of natural oils, alcohols, vinegars, or peppers - all of which can be found very cost effectively. If you're buying organic insect sprays, those can be more expensive - likely a few dollars per bottle.

Buying organic insect spray can avoid harsh chemicals that are often produced in ways that harm the environment. Making your own insect repellent is even better because you can use bulk, organic ingredients and reuse spray bottles instead of throwing them out.

Washable cloth towels

 Impact: Low
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: You can usually find a good pack of a few reusable paper towels for under $10.

Finding a reusable alternative for paper towels can be significant, especially if you live in a household with little ones creating little messes! These can often go right into the dishwasher or laundry for super easy cleaning.

Bamboo toilet paper

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Bamboo toilet paper is typically about the same, or sometimes less expensive than standard toilet paper.

Toilet paper made from bamboo is far more sustainable because of the amount of land required, the rate at which bamboo grows, and the manufacturing process. And despite what you might think, it's often just as soft and comfortable!

Bamboo toothbrush

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: You can get our bamboo toothbrushes for just $3.39!

Plastic toothbrushes can take hundreds of years or more to break down, making them extremely unsustainable and damaging to our environment.

Bar body soap

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Depending on where you purchase, soap bars can vary in price but are usually within $4 or less. We like to find local soap makers to support, which often come to our local farmers markets!

It's pointless for soaps to come in wasteful plastic bottles. Additionally, many liquid gel soaps are packed with unnecessary harsh chemicals. There are many sustainable and plastic free options for bar soaps that are either unscented or have incredible scents.

Bring your own shopping bags

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: A high-quality, durable reusable shopping bag can be around $5 - $10, but will last you years and years.

Using paper bags from the grocery store is better than plastic - but using no bags is better than that! Bringing your own bags and avoiding extra unnecessary bagging can help fight against the tremendous amount of plastic waste that the grocery industry creates.

Conditioner bar

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Usually around $5 - $8, often bundled with shampoo bars.

Similar to shampoo bars, conditioner bars give you more control and an equally (or better) clean and healthy wash without the waste and chemicals.

Dish soap bar

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: You can get our long-lasting dish soap bars for just $5.94.

There are many options when it comes to dish soap: soap-handle sponges, chemical packed liquid gel bottles, soap powders, etc. Most of these options are full of plastic waste and unnecessary chemicals. Just a classic soap bar does the trick, creates no plastic waste, and often lasts longer.

Food producing landscape

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: You can take several approaches to planting food-bearing landscapes. You can buy plants which will be most expensive, buy seeds, or save seeds from previous plants or food for free!

Including plants in your yard that produce food has many benefits: your health, the air, the environment, and your wallet! Growing your own food at home reduces the emissions caused by shipping food to stores, you driving to get the food, all of the wasteful packaging it so often comes in, and allows you to focus on low-carbon footprint foods.

Glass bottles & storage containers

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Glass jars or sealable containers can usually be found for just a few dollars. This can be especially cost effective if you get them from a second-hand store.

Shifting to reusable and washable glass storage containers like baking trays and sealed jars can reduce our reliance on limited-use or single-use plastic storage methods.

Laundry detergent sheets

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Our eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets come in scented and unscented options for just $13.59 for a 64 load pack.

There are many problems with common laundry detergent products - plastic waste, overuse, harsh chemicals… the list goes on. Switching to all natural and organic laundry detergent sheets ensure you use a pre-portioned and sufficient amount of detergent, you avoid soaking your clothes in chemicals, and there is no plastic waste created in the process.

Menstrual cups

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Typically range from about $10 - $30.

Typical menstrual hygiene products like tampons and pads create more that 200,000 metric tons of waste every year, including their packaging (2). Reusable and washable menstrual cups can help reduce this enormous amount of plastic that ends up in our landfills and oceans.

Mouthwash tablets

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Pricing may vary, but often within $10

Mouthwash often comes in plastic containers with plastic lids that are simply discarded after they're gone. Mouthwash tablets or mints that come in plastic-free containers and potentially compostable packaging refills provide a wonderful alternative.

Reusable bottle soap tablets or bar hand soap

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Soap tablets or bar soap is often cheaper than disposable plastic bottles or large plastic refill jugs.

There are many better options for hand soap out there than disposable plastic bottles. Getting a refillable glass dispenser with tablets you can add water to is a great method, or you can simply use a bar that comes plastic-free.

Reusable coffee or tea filter

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Our reusable, zero-waste pour over coffee or tea filters are just $19.99.

Hot beverages like coffee or tea is an essential part of billions of people's morning and/or evening routines. Wasteful plastic or plastic-lined cups, single-use coffee pods, and plastic wrapped tea bags are all awful for the planet. Just think of a few cups per day, times billions of people over the course of a year. That's a LOT of non-biodegradable waste.

Reusable cotton, hemp, or bamboo facial wipes

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: You can usually find a large pack of high quality reusable face pads for $10 - $15.

Fibers and microplastics in standard disposable facial wipes can take forever to break down or end up in our oceans, rivers, and lakes. Reusable is best, which you can find made from all natural materials.

Shampoo bar

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Usually around $5 - $8

Once you start washing your hair with a shampoo bar, you'll never want to go back. It lasts longer, feels better, and is free of harsh chemicals and unneeded plastic containers.

Stainless steel safety razor

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: You can usually find a high quality reusable razor and blades for less than $50

It doesn't make much sense to throw out a whole razor when only the blade needs replacing, right? Getting a safety razor with replaceable blades is a great solution to eliminate plastic waste from shaving.

Toothpaste bites in a reusable jar

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Cost can vary from company to company, but you can usually find them for around $5 - $7 for a month's supply.

There are several companies that offer chewable toothpaste bits. Just chew and brush away! No more wasteful toothpaste tubes.

Use natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: These powerful ingredients are most often far cheaper than brand name cleaning products.

Many people don't know how many things simple ingredients like vinegar and baking soda can be used for! These powerful cleaners can be used for just about anything. They're far cheaper than mass-produced cleaning supplies, are more natural and free from harmful chemicals, and easy to find in plastic-free packaging.

Waterpik flossing or biodegradable floss picks

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Water flossers can be found for under $40. Biodegradable floss picks can be found in a large pack for just a few dollars.

Standard floss and especially plastic disposable floss picks can be incredibly wasteful. Investing in a water jet flosser and/or biodegradable floss picks can make a big difference.

Buy from thrift shops

 Impact: High
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: Thrift store prices are often a fraction of what you'd pay for the same items if they were brand new.

Browsing local thrift shops can be a lot of fun. Purchasing things second-hand reduces product creation demand and works to reuse items. Many thrift shops also donate to charities or support great causes. So do some research about the thrift stores near you.

Reuse

 Impact: Massive
 Effort: Easy
 Cost: This can result in tremendous savings over time, as our once disposable items become useful again and again.

This is a total mindset shift. Once you get into this headspace, you'll find yourself thinking of everything - how can something be reused or made to be multi-purpose? This can have a huge impact. You'll find yourself buying less, creating less waste, and increasing your creative thinking skills!

Natural, renewable, and recycled building materials

 Impact: High
 Effort: Challenging
 Cost: Cost will significantly vary depending on the size and complexity of the remodel or build, as well as the durability needs of the materials for interior or exterior use.

If you're building a new house, installing an addition, or remodeling - considering natural and recycled building materials like recycled steel, cork, reclaimed wood, bamboo, or clay can make a big impact. While this is a one-time use and not a habit over time, the savings can really add up depending on the size and complexity of your job.

Recycle

 Impact: High
 Effort: Somewhat Difficult
 Cost: Depending on where you live, a pick-up recycling service may come with a monthly fee. In other areas it is included with your waste services. Alternatively, you could find local recycling facilities to drop off your recyclables at.

Where we can't reuse or compost, we recycle. Getting into the habit of this order of operations can maximize the usefulness of the things we buy, reduce our individual carbon footprint, and combat the demand for single-use and first-time materials.

Bidet

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Somewhat Difficult
 Cost: Getting a brand new bidet installed could cost around $1000, however there are bidet attachments that you can add to a regular toilet for about $100.

A bidet is a specialized type of toilet that uses water to clean you after using the bathroom, rather than using excessive toilet paper.

Cloth diapers

 Impact: Medium
 Effort: Somewhat Difficult
 Cost: Diapers can take 500 years or more to decompose and create toxins during this process. A set of washable and reusable diapers can be found for around $20, where a large pack of name brand diapers can cost upwards of $70! You'll save substantial money in addition to reducing waste.

Modern mass produced disposable diapers can take an extremely long time to break down and decompose. If you've had children, we're sure you know how many diapers a single baby can produce before they outgrow them! Though it might be a difficult transition to get used to, switching to washable cloth diapers can make a big impact.

Grow your own food

 Impact: High
 Effort: Somewhat Difficult
 Cost: This could be free if you use seeds from previously purchased or grown plants!

Not everyone has the ability to build and tend to a full garden. But you can grow your own food to whatever extent you're able and willing, whether that's a simple potted herb garden or a full backyard variety. Every bit counts!

Look for environmental certifications

 Impact: High
 Effort: Somewhat Difficult
 Cost: Getting in the habit of checking for certifications is free! Depending on the products you're looking for and where you find them you may spend more or less, but it's still a great habit to get in.

Not every sustainable or 'good' product will have a certification. Sometimes they can be difficult and costly for companies to obtain. However, if you do see one, you can be more confident in your purchase. It's a good habit to take a closer look at any certifications and materials.

Review ingredients/materials used

 Impact: High
 Effort: Somewhat Difficult
 Cost: Getting in the habit of checking ingredients/materials is free!

As you start to review ingredients and materials of the products you buy more closely, you'll be able to notice patterns or common things you'll want to avoid. Try to lean towards reusable items and compostable or biodegradable materials as much as possible.

Article Sources ↓

Natural Replacements references research from industry experts and reputable industry publishers to support claims or data in our content when applicable. Learn more about our publishing standards and practices in our editorial guidelines.

  1. Republic Services (GSI Waste) - BATTERY RECYCLING IS IMPORTANT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH 4 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BATTERY DISPOSAL AND THE ENVIRONMENT
    Accessed: October 6, 2022
  2. Global Citizen - Which Period Products Are Best for the Environment?
    Accessed: October 8, 2022

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Citations for This Article

APA

Plonkey, Jim. (October 30, 2022). Waste Production: Eco-Friendly Checklist. Natural Replacements. Retrieved May 19, 2024, from https://naturalreplacements.com/learn/environment/waste-production-eco-friendly-checklist/

MLA

Plonkey, Jim. "Waste Production: Eco-Friendly Checklist." Natural Replacements, https://naturalreplacements.com/learn/environment/waste-production-eco-friendly-checklist/

Chicago

Plonkey, Jim. "Waste Production: Eco-Friendly Checklist." Natural Replacements, Last modified October 30, 2022. https://naturalreplacements.com/learn/environment/waste-production-eco-friendly-checklist/

Jim Plonkey

Jim Plonkey is a Co-founder of Natural Replacements. A digital marketing professional with a passion for sustainability, Jim lives in Southeast Michigan and enjoys traveling to new places, spending time outdoors - kayaking, hiking, and gardening, and yoga.

Content on the Natural Replacements is produced under the guidance of our editorial standards.

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