How do I reduce my waste?

Take some inspiration from these tips on how to create less waste. It’s not an all or nothing game – do what you can, based on where you're at.

Why reduce my waste?

The average New Zealander creates 734kg of waste per year.* This puts us among the highest waste-producers in the developed world and this is not sustainable for our environment. Often people think that small changes by them won’t make a difference to such figures, but many people, doing many small things, create change.

What difference is one bottle going to make? – says 7 billion people.

Choosing to reduce waste can be easy. Just take one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll have new habits, be inspiring others and feel motivated to make further change.

Where do I start?

The easiest way to reduce your waste is by avoiding it in the first place. REDUCE is at the top of the waste hierarchy (see upside-down pyramid, right), so think twice before you get something and ask yourself if there’s another option.

  • Can I borrow it?
  • Can I fix it?
  • Can I easily grow it?
  • Can I buy it secondhand?
  • Can I source it without packaging or with alternative packaging?
  • Can I only buy as much as I really need?

Search online for ideas and tips – someone is bound to have asked the question already!

Waste hierarchy

Understand your waste

Looking at your bin and understanding what your waste is currently made up of, is a great way to make changes.

  • Are there items that can be reused, recycled or repaired?
  • Can you compost food scraps, or use your freezer to save leftovers for another day?
  • Can you take your own container for takeaway coffee or food?
  • Could items you no longer use be useful for someone else? Consider donating them to charity.
  • Is food packaging waste taking over your rubbish bin? Could you start buying some products in bulk or alternative packaging? Maybe start recycling your soft plastics.

Make waste reduction as easy as possible

Start with one small change at a time. This way the changes will be more manageable and further ones will be easier. What you focus on first could be what makes up most of your rubbish, such as food scraps, or what is the easiest to reduce, such as recycling all items that are collected at your kerbside.

Learn recycling information for your area so you know what you can and can’t recycle and how to do it correctly. For more information about Hamilton City read Kerbside rubbish and recycling collection.

Create a path of least resistance so that you’re encouraged to keep up the good work. For example, if you choose to start a compost, pop it in an easy to get to location in your garden. Make sorting your waste simpler by having your recycling bins in places which are easy-to-get-to.

Follow websites or groups for ongoing ideas and inspiration, and share what you’re doing and why with your friends, family and workmates. You are not alone on your journey to less waste and it’s easier when you can learn along with others. Check out places like Love Food Hate Waste, the Zero Waste in NZ! Facebook group, and the Zero waste Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) Facebook group.