Zero Waste At Home

60 easy steps for
reducing your waste.

Tips for reducing your waste.

Here’s a little secret; we believe that the key to a greener future is in following easy tips for reducing your waste, not in striving to become truly and utterly zero waste. (Another little secret – most of of our members aren’t zero waste – gasp! – they’re just actively trying to reduce their waste). A lot of people taking small steps will have a much greater impact than a small group of people taking massive strides. 

Our lives are busy, we want to spend our free time enjoying ourselves and the world around us. Not panicking at every small thing that gets added to the bin. So, we’ve created a list of small, easy-to-follow tips for reducing your waste. Take what you can, leave what you can’t. (But never forget to send us a tip you’ve discovered –  we’re in this together!)

Click each category to see our favourite tips for reducing your waste at home and beyond. 

  • Reuse jars and plastic containers as lunch boxes. Salads in jars are seriously tasty.
  • Freeze your bread and fresh herbs and defrost as required. If fresh bread has gone a bit hard, blitz it in the blender to make breadcrumbs for the freezer.
  • Refill your cleaning products instead of buying new each time. Contact Moggy to see what Lillys Refills she has in stock.
  • Reuse tin-foil by washing with warm water and wash up liquid and drying or pop into the top of the dishwasher. (And when it’s beyond reusing, you can scrunch it up and use to scrub the dishes). 
  • Use glass/crockery bowls covered with beeswax paper or greaseproof paper in your fridge when storing food instead of relying on clingfilm. 
  • Use bread soda and washing-up liquid (make into a paste or just add in separately) to clean toilets, sinks etc. It is non-abrasive and more effective than a lot of the shop-bought alternatives. While you’re at it, learn how to clean almost anything with bread soda. 
  • Use, you guessed it, bread soda to clean cups/teapots /stained crockery. Fill the vessel with water add in some bread-soda, leave to soak for a few hours and wash as normal. Viola, granny would be proud!
  • Make your own mayonnaise only when you need it in 30 seconds. All you need is an egg, some French mustard, vinegar, and some sunflower oil. Much, much yummier than the processed stuff. 
  • Freeze all vegetable skins or leftovers instead of composting and use them to make your own veggie stock for soup or other stews. Seriously, do this once and you will become addicted to the rich stocks you make with minimal effort. Your gravy will never be the same again. 
  • Make your own super creamy nut or oat milk. Milk made from Irish organic oats has the lowest impact with low travel miles and no pesticides. It’s easy. No really! You basically just blend the oats with water and strain. You can even freeze it so you only have to make it once a month. Score. 
  • Make your own biscuits or cereal bars for your kids, they can participate and they will think it’s the best biscuits in the world! Also less sweet and fewer allergens inside.
  • Make your own pizza dough with only two ingredients (flour and greek yoghurt) and change the toppings every week. Another fun thing to do with kids.
  • Make your own yoghurts with whole milk and whole milk yoghurt to start with. This can be done with or without a machine and saves you money too.
  • Keep all unused lemon peel or skin after using juice and mix them with white vinegar to degrease your kitchen or your bathroom. Mmmm…lemon cleaner that smells like actual lemons!
  • Make soup. Vegetables that are starting to turn can be boiled up to make a delicious soup or even stock. Just remove any rotten bits and start boiling. Maybe top with a little of that yoghurt you made! 
  • Most home appliances can be repaired rather than thrown out, look for local repair shops and repair cafes. Youtube is also a great resource for repair videos.
  • Dirty dishwater can be used to water your plants, just make sure there aren’t too many suds left in the water. A few bubbles is ok but if it is too foamy do not use it.
  • Use your freezer. If you make too much food simply portion it out into containers and freeze them for another day instead of throwing good food out. Try using ice-cube trays for liquids like milk (and even wine!) that can be added to the pot while you’re cooking. 
  • Plan your meals. Are you going to be out all day for an event or for work? Make your own meals and bring them with you rather than buying stodgy convenience food which is mostly low quality and wrapped in plastic. 
  • Check out the amazing tips at www.stopfoodwaste.ie for more food waste reduction tips.
  • Refill your shampoo and conditioner or use shampoo bars – just make sure you have a soap rack so they can dry out and not get soggy.
  • When buying beauty gadgets, look for ones that will last a long time without the possibility of breaking. A gua sha or jade roller are heaven to use and they’ll never need batteries or replacement parts. If you don’t know what they are, you’re welcome!
  • Use bars of soap instead of liquid to eliminate those extra plastic bottles. If you have one already, why not pick up a refill or make your own by grating a big block of Marseille soap and mixing with water.
  • Grandad was on to something when using his single-blade razor. According to pretty much everyone who knows about these things, including GQ and Esquire no less, a safety razor isn’t just a better option environmentally, but it’s going to make you an even handsomer divil than you already are. 
  • Head to The Green Outlook online store for lots of Irish, plastic-free products from dental floss to suncream. 
  • DIY your own deodorant with coconut oil, arrowroot powder or baking soda and essential oils. Check out YouYube for a variety of recipes and find one that works for you.
  • For a no-cost spa-type treat gather seaweed and have a seaweed bath at home. The brown ‘bubbly’ seaweed (Fucus Vesiculosis) is the one they generally use in Spas. Add some salt to the bath and relax! NOTE – do not use brown seaweeds in a Porcelain or Enamel bath as the iodine will stain – only use in Plastic bathtub.
  • Make your own exfoliator using white granulated sugar and some olive oil/almond oil. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil (we love rose and sweet orange) for a luxurious touch. 
  • Quit fast fashion by heading to local charity shops and clothes swaps instead – there are MANY gems to be found. Need that shopping fix? Download the Depop app to get some serious sartorial inspiration and then buy the clothes directly off your style crush’s back. 
  • Host a clothes swap with some friends. Bring wine. Insist on a catwalk show. Best. Night. Ever.
  • Learn to sew, crochet, mend and repair with some YouTube videos (or ask granny to show you). This doubles as a beautiful way to slow down and relax. Hand sewing is way easier than you might think and will solve a multitude of tricky clothes problems. 
  • Tailors and clothes alteration shops are a great resource to restyle your clothes. 
  • Look for antique or second hand furniture before falling into the IKEA trap. You’ll find pieces with much more character, that will last longer, and might even be cheaper. Think outside the box too; an old door as a headboard, beds made of pallets and bedside tables made from fruit crates are trending hard right now. 
  • Grow some lavender (or ask a green-fingered friend for some) and make lavender pouches to keep clothes smelling delicious. Or create your own signature blend by mixing different herbs. You don’t even need to sew. Lavender pouches make lovely little gifts also. 
  • Use old clothes to make rags and cloths for cleaning, drying or even making rugs or wall hangings from. 
  • Most clothes can be washed on a cold or cool cycle at 15C or 30C, and some experts believe they should never be washed in anything hotter. Save the hot washes for towels, underwear and bedclothes.
  • Upcycle old furniture before deciding to throwing it out, sanding, conditioning and repainting wooden pieces can transform a piece. You can even paint, yes paint, leather and upholstery – and it looks awesome!
  • Use seaweed as garden fertiliser- just like our grandparents did.
  • Grow some mint in your garden and use for peppermint tea. Just pick a handful of leaves, rinse under cold water and then put into the teapot with boiling water. You  could also use the peppermint for Mojitos!
  • The Irish hedgerows are full of good things to eat – try foraging!. Make your own wild garlic pesto or wild garlic champ; delicious. Wall pennywort leaves give extra crunch to a salad. Cleavers (a.k.a. sicky-backs) are great for your liver. When picking be 100% sure you know what plant it is and pick only from areas that you know haven’t been sprayed with herbicides.
  • Forage for Seaweed on Ireland’s wonderful beaches: Carrigeen Moss (Chondrus Crispus)  can be used to make a lovely souffle/ jelly, can be used in cold remedies and can be used instead of gelatin – and it’s vegetarian friendly.
  • Collect rainwater. Use a water butt connected to your gutters or some other method. This can save you hundreds of litres of water for watering plants or washing your car.
  • Use garden cuttings to make a wildlife corridor in your garden. Join a plant or seed swapping group – like this one on Facebook – to keep costs low and connect with like-minded locals. 
  • Leave a patch of your garden go wild to enhance biodiversity while saving time and energy on cutting the grass. A hand-painted sign saying ‘Managed for wildlife’ can help people learn to appreciate the wildness!
  • Use egg cartons, yoghurt pots and tin cans as starter trays for seedlings. Check out Grow It Yourself for lots of top tips.
  • Upcycle scrap wood from projects or the shed to create fairy doors that kids (and grown-ups alike) can paint and decorate.
  • Try to stop impulse buying. Before making a purchase ask yourself do you really need this and why am I buying this? Be honest with yourself and NEVER shop when you are hungry! That might help reduce your waist too!
  • Can you walk, cycle or use public transport to get where you’re going rather than driving? Can we make another “reducing your waist” joke?!
  • Keep a shopping bag folded and in your handbag or pocket so you can always refuse a plastic bag at the shop. 
  • Keep a fork and handkerchief in your bag in case you buy food on the go – it saves having to use a plastic one. 
  • Join your local library and start swapping books with your friends.
  • Remember that you don’t need to buy zero waste/plastic-free products to start your journey. Using what you already have is always more sustainable than buying something new. 
  • Share your journey with others – none of us are perfect and we are all in this together. Join the Zero Waste Ireland community on Facebook to get inspired by, and inspire, other people who are discovering clever hacks for reducing their waste. 
  • Wrap gifts in newspapers/magazines, your kids’ artwork (make a big deal of how special this makes it) or even re-usable textiles. Wrapping paper is normally not recyclable and is weirdly expensive. 
  • Keep the ribbons from those luxury boxes of chocolates and reuse them when wrapping gifts.
  • When upgrading your phone make sure to check local charities as many will take your old device and give it to someone in need rather than throwing it out. Those metals are a precious resource!
  • When you do buy things, go for quality. A well-made product will last longer than a cheap one. It may cost more in the short term but will last much longer.
  • Check classified ads like Gumtree, websites like eBay, and Facebook Marketplace before you make a purchase. You might find what you need secondhand or even nearly-new, often for a much better price too.
  • Rechargeable batteries are great and work out much cheaper in the long run. 
  • Put a “No Junk Mail” sign next to your letterbox.
  • When giving presents make it yourself or re-gift something you already have. Everyone loves something thoughtfully handmade with love.
  • Switch to paperless for your bills like electricity and broadband; you might be surprised if you saw how much paper one year of bills uses. All service providers offer this service now and will simply email you your bills. 
  • Before throwing stuff out, put them on a buy and sell sites or offer them free to take away. There is always someone who may find a use for it. The Cobh Freecycling group is ideal for passing things along locally.
  • Forgo the plastic-packed party goody-bags in favour of something practical (and very reusable) like a fun pair of socks that they can all wear at school the next day to keep the party going.
  • DIY paper bags decorated by the birthday child is far more personal than a plastic party bag (and might buy you a bit of peace to have a cuppa before the onslaught!).
  • Turn the goody-bag into the entertainment by having a cupcake or cookie decorating competition and let them take some home. 
  • More and more Irish parents are embracing fiver parties, where the guests bring a fiver (instead of a cheapo toy). It reduced waste, clutter, and gives the birthday child something to look forward to when the party ends. And yes, there is a non-cringey way to word it on the invites. 
  • Reusable nappies have come a long way since the towelling and giant safety pin days of our youths. Supermarkets regularly stock stylish and all-in-one nappies that are as easy to use as disposables (but waaaay prettier!). 
  • If cloth nappying is a step too far, try ditching the disposable wipes for reusable ones. They are so much better at doing their dirty job, super easy to make or buy, and far less likely to cause irritation. Oh, and they don’t take 100 years to decompose – yikes!
  • Every parent of a toddler is familiar with the one-bite apple, pear, banana etc. Toddler desperately wants a piece of fruit, takes one bite, then plops it down and completely forgets about it. Why not slice up the fruit and pop it into the freezer, ready for a quick smoothie?
  • Try replacing their snacks that are wrapped in single-use plastic with something more sustainable. Freeze leftover smoothies and juices in ice-lolly moulds for a cool treat. Push an ice-lolly stick into a slice of watermelon or make fruit kebabs instead of lollipops. Save any small jars for on-the-go mini-yoghurts decanted from a larger tub (or made by yourself; see point 32). Reusable baby food pouches are a great investment not just for the weaning stage, but when they’re older and want juice from a novelty bottle. 

Email

Phone

Melanie;  089 215 6534

Steve; 087 212 6850

Market

We have a stall at Cobh’s Farmer’s Market on the last Friday of every month in the Promenade from 9:30-12:30. 

We offer cleaning product refills, zero waste goods, and any info you might need. 

Don’t forget your containers!

 

 

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