Six easy steps to reduce household trash

Happy New Year! Do you have the urge to organize, clean up, and try to be a little greener this year?  I definitely do.  If living more sustainably and reducing household trash is one of your New Year’s resolutions, here are some reusable options you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.

Out — Paper Towels  In — Swedish dish cloths

According to, we use more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels in the US each year.  That’s more than 3,000 tons of paper towels in the trash.  Yes, I do still have a roll by my kitchen sink, but since I’ve started using these Swedish dish cloths, I use a lot less.  I bought mine from  I keep one in the kitchen and one in every bathroom.  They’re great for wiping up bathroom sinks, and I swear they do a better job cleaning my kitchen counter than paper towels alone.  They air-dry super-fast so there’s no wet rag sitting around forever.  You can throw them in the wash with your other towels – but not the dryer.

Out – Scented dryer sheets  In – Wool dryer balls

I stopped using dryer sheets years ago and don’t miss them at all.  Not only does ditching dryer sheets reduce trash, it also removes harmful chemicals from your clothing and home.  To learn more, read this brief Scientific American article.  A few years ago I bought some wool dryer balls from Bog Berry Dryer Balls.  I just leave them in my dryer and the static is gone.  They’re also good at fluffing up the sheets so they don’t roll into a twisted mass. You can add essential oils if you like scented laundry, but I prefer unscented because of allergies.

Out – Disposable dusting cloths  In—Make your own from cloth

You know those disposable dusting cloths that attach to the end of a metal “mop?” You can easily make your own  saving both money and trash!  I use old wash cloths — the one in the picture above has certainly seen better days – or you can buy an inexpensive set of bar rags.  Dampen them with some water and a little dish soap, and you can quickly give a damp mop to the kitchen or bathroom floor.  If you’re trying to pick up hair or other dust, use a microfiber dusting cloth instead.  Just throw them in the laundry when dirty and reuse!

Out – Plastic storage containers  In – Mason jars

While this won’t really reduce household trash, it will cut down on plastics in the kitchen – another goal of mine.  I love mason jars for storing nuts, rice, pasta, and other dry goods, plus they’re wonderful for shaking up salad dressing.  They also look nicer in your cabinets in case anyone’s peeking!

Out – Throwing away veggie scraps  In – Composting

The EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators that any other single material in our everyday trash, constituting 21.6 percent of discarded municipal solid waste. When we had a big yard and plenty of room for a composting bin, I was overwhelmed thinking of the work involved — turning, mixing, getting the proportions right,etc.  Now that I’m a city girl, a composting service will pick up a 5 gallon bin from my doorstep weekly or biweekly.  After reading the EPA’s site and remembering how many carrot peels, potato peels and other veggie trash I thew away when cooking for the holidays, I’m signing up today.

Out – Wrapping paper  In – VZWraps

OK, so this one is a no-brainer!  I haven’t used wrapping paper in over 10 years.  If you haven’t made the switch to VWraps yet, now is the time.  Click here to get started.

Do you have an eco-resolution?  Tell me about in the comments below.  And if you’d like to receive special offers, coupons, or notices of new fabrics, please sign up for our mailing list.