How We Reduced Our Household Trash

Texas Homesteader ~ 
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Recycling is an important way to help protect the environment. But what about PREcycling?

Precycling can be defined as making purchasing decisions that will delay, reduce or eliminate the need to recycle or dispose of waste. 

By PRE-Cycling we’ve reduced our landfill bound trash & collection fees. The result is positive for our budget & the environment.

By PRE-Cycling we've reduced our landfill-bound trash & collection fees. The result is positive for our budget & the environment. #TexasHomesteader

(Note: Some links in this post are for further information from earlier posts I’ve written. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click them and buy something (almost anything, not just the item noted) I could receive a tiny commission. But the price you pay will NOT change. It’s an easy way to support this blog without anything coming out of your pocket. So click often! Thank you!)

Repurposing items to another use is a good example of precycling. I’ve been able to reduce all kinds of landfill-bound trash by repurposing items.

For instance, I’ve eliminated spray bottles previously filled with cleaners going to the landfill by refilling those spray bottles with my own homemade cleaners.

My homemade cleaners are typically made from a mix of either soap/water or vinegar/water. Come see the other simple steps we made to slash our landfill-bound trash.

Reducing Disposables

And reducing your use of disposables is another example of precycling. For instance, I no longer use disposable plastic razors.

Now RancherMan & I opt instead for a steel safety razor and real honest-to-goodness double-edged blades.

At the end of the razor & blade life both can easily be recyclable. But the metal razor will outlast me I’m sure! Used blades are tucked securely into a metal box and recycled. The paper box the blades were sold in are tossed in my compost.

Safety Razor. By PRE-Cycling we've reduced our landfill-bound trash & collection fees. The result is positive for our budget & the environment. #TexasHomesteader

Safely Shaving With A Safety Razor

Initially I was afraid to make the switch. My thinking was that I’d need those 4-5 blades with the strip of protective aloe that comes on a disposable razor to be able to shave smoothly without cutting myself.

But my hate for plastic trumped my fear. So I gave it a try.

And I was pleasantly surprised. (kinda makes me want to kick myself for not doing it years ago.)

Not only is using a reusable safety razor substantially less expensive but an environmentally friendly choice as well. I often see nice brand-name safety razors at estate sales & antique stores.

When I fine extras I sometimes have a few in my Online Store. Check it out!

Bring Your Own Container For Restaurant Leftovers

The environmental side of me has always HATED that awful Styrofoam box they force on you when you take home the uneaten portion of a restaurant meal.

And if the contents are the least bit heavy the container gives enough to pop the lid open. Plus those dang things are so bulky to store in the fridge. (not to mention Styrofoam is an environmental nightmare!)

I carry a glass dish to restaurants to hold leftovers. By PRE-Cycling we've reduced our landfill-bound trash & collection fees. The result is positive for our budget & the environment. #TexasHomesteader

So several years ago I purchased an inexpensive small glass bake-ware pan with a snap-on lid. I’ll use it as a reusable way to bring home restaurant leftovers.

I even made a Cute Dish Carrier with repurposed denim. It was made to look purse-like so I wouldn’t feel awkward just carrying a glass dish into the restaurant.

I made a cute dish carrier from repupuposed denim blue jeans. By PRE-Cycling we've reduced our landfill-bound trash & collection fees. The result is positive for our budget & the environment. #TexasHomesteader

When the dish is empty again I just wash it and allow it to thoroughly dry. Then I snap the lid onto the dish so it stays clean and I store it in my car.

Since it’s always in the car I have it with me even if we stop for an unscheduled restaurant meal. I just grab this small dish & carry it into the restaurant with me.

If I end up with leftovers they are easily transferred to my container. Then I bring them home & place it compactly into the fridge. That way I can enjoy restaurant leftovers for lunch the next day.

And since this glass dish is microwave safe I can heat & eat in the same dish. No extra dirty dishes, no extra trash! Win/win!

Easy Make-It-Yourself Items

Another way I’ve been able to reduce landfill trash is that I make products myself that I used to buy. That way I can make & store them in my own containers instead of bringing new disposable containers of product home.

For instance, for several years now I’ve made my own laundry detergent so those bulky containers are eliminated.

I also make my own yogurt so those containers are eliminated as well. I even make them in small repurposed glass canning jars for single-serve convenience.

By PRE-Cycling we've reduced our landfill-bound trash & collection fees. The result is positive for our budget & the environment. #TexasHomesteader

But even if you don’t have the time or inclination to make this stuff yourself (but trust me, it’s EASY!) you can still make a big impact by being mindful of the things you DON’T buy.

Shun Excess Packaging

Look at the packaging of things you purchase. Shun those that are over-packaged whether or not the packaging can be recycled.

Those beautiful bell peppers are on sale, but they’re sitting on a styrofoam tray and entombed in multiple layers of plastic wrap. That’s a hard PASS for me!

I'll pass on bell peppers sold in plastic to reduce the amount of trash coming into our home. #TexasHomesteader

I’ve passed up over-packaged produce, items for our home and even toys for my grandbabies in favor of less-packaged options.  And I often buy used so in those cases there’s NO packaging involved. SCORE!

Composting Is EASY!

Another huge improvement in reducing our landfill waste stream is using our composter. I purchased this *compost tumbler a few years ago and now so veggie trimmings and such go into this composter instead of the trash can.

Living in the country we are on a septic system. I couldn’t use a garbage disposal for food even if I wanted to.

But I’ve always considered that using a garbage disposal to dispose of excess food is the wrong way to handle it anyway since it must be cleaned up down the line by utility workers.

Too many of the discards that are compostable land in the trashcan instead.

What a waste! (yes, pun intended.  LOL)

Those veggie peels and apple cores are now composted & turned into black gold for my veggie garden. And my landfill-bound load is further reduced.

Bye-Bye Junkmail

What about junk mail? It’s the mail everyone just hates to get. RancherMan & I are pretty adamant about removing unwanted junk mail from clogging our mailbox.

The law requires that if you OPT OUT of a company’s promotional offers that company must discontinue sending their junk mail to you.

By PRE-Cycling we've reduced our landfill-bound trash & collection fees. The result is positive for our budget & the environment. #TexasHomesteader

Oftentimes I’ll send them an OPT OUT email and be sure to bcc myself so I have record of having sent it. 

That way if I receive a second mailing from them I’ll “reply-all” to that email and in bold print write SECOND REQUEST – PLEASE RESPOND. They’re able to see that I’m tracking my opt-out requests and in almost 100% of the cases this puts an end to it.

You can also opt out of almost all marketing by visiting the website They place your information on a file made available to all direct marketers.

It costs $1 but it was one of the best dollars I ever spent since it was a one-stop shop. And it brought our junkmail volume down immediately.

I tackled the remaining trickle myself. Now a piece of junk mail in our mailbox is rare.

But when it does happen I simply copy/paste my opt out format in an email to that company and request to be removed from any future marketing mailings.

A Tiny Trash Can Is All We Need

By using these tactics and by recycling those things that we can we’ve reduced what is sent to the landfill from our home enough that we use only a tiny bathroom-sized waste basket as our main household trashcan.

By PRE-Cycling we've reduced our landfill-bound trash & collection fees. The result is positive for our budget & the environment. #TexasHomesteader

And we don’t buy trash bags. The can is lined with whatever appropriate-sized plastic bags work themselves into our home.

Whether it’s the bag from a large family-sized container of cereal or the occasional plastic shopping bag that someone brought something to us in. (we don’t accept plastic shopping bags when we shop but I’ll make full use of the ones that end up in our home from others).

This small trashcan only needs to be emptied about once every couple of weeks. I feel pretty good about that!

The larger trash can in RancherMan’s shop needs to be emptied even less. But even though it’s larger, it’s still only the size of a typical kitchen-sized waste basket.

And once again, we don’t line it with disposable trash bags, but instead use repurposed plastic feed sacks.

Like I said before, if that blasted plastic is going to come into the house despite my best efforts, it’s gonna be used up before it’s considered done.

Plus it saves us money since we don’t have to buy trash bags.

What’s your favorite way to reduce landfill-bound trash at your house?


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28 thoughts on “How We Reduced Our Household Trash

  1. Lisa/Syncopated Mama

    We sometimes go a couple of months before needing to have the garbage truck pick up our trash – it’s amazing how easy it is to reduce landfill-bound junk if you compost and try to think about what you’re buying!

  2. Next to Natural

    These are some great tips! I’d be careful about reusing a plastic spray bottle that previously had chemicals in it just because they can leach into the plastic and then back into your homemade solution. But how do you like your composter? I’m looking around for one to buy to start composting!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thanks for your comment. The spray bottles I’m reusing are typically just used to put soap & water in for cleaning – I’m comfortable with that. Oh, and I love my composter, it definitely makes composting doable for me! ~TxH~

  3. Kathryn Grace

    Excellent suggestions all, and I’m thrilled to find another grandmother passing these solutions along to her grandkids. One of the most difficult plastic-wrapped items for me to give up so far is frozen vegetables and fruit. We used to use several bags a week (we don’t have access to a garden or freezer large enough to put up our own). We’re down to a few a month now, since we now rely on mostly fresh fruits and vegetables year round. But I still put five or six a month into my trash can.

    The other biggie is cheese wrappers. We buy less cheese now too, but we still go through a couple of 8-ounce packages a week. I tried buying from a store that cuts and wraps; turns out their paper is plastic lined, and they have very few organic, local, grass-fed options.

    The good news is, we’re reducing our one-use, overly wrapped items. After tracking our kitchen trash for four years, we’ve leveled out the last two at about two pounds every two months, most of it plastic wrappers. The bathroom trash is something else though. That’s going to take some heavy work to fix.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Ugh, I hear ya Kathryn… I found deli cheese at the local big-box store has cheese that’s not individually wrapped. It’s more expensive, but we don’t eat lots of sliced cheese anyway so it works for us. But those plastic bags that it seems EVERYTHING is packaged in wears me out too. I’m able to repurpose many of them, separating out servings for the freezer in our Cook-Once-Eat-Twice cooking, or the larger ones such as family pack toilet paper are repurposed for our trash bags (we haven’t bought commercial trash bags in years). But you’re right, it’s a challenge to get them all to a second use before tossing… ~TxH~

  4. Claudia Blanton

    while I do make my own cleaners due to allergies – I always thought of the health angle of using them – the fact that my dogs are not allergic to them, and that I eliminate the toxins out of our home, so my kids are safer. I never thought about trash reduction. Not like I needed to be convinced even more, but it makes a great selling point, when I am talking to family members who think I have lost my mind. Great post!

  5. Beth C

    Do you add to your compost box daily and how long does it take to become compost with a tumbler like you have?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Hummm… so much depends upon how often you add to it, whether your greens & browns are balanced, whether you’re tumbling it regularly, keeping it moist, etc. For instance, I often find I have too much greens in my compost and have to rip up a few paper feed sacks to add enough browns to balance everything. But using this tumbler I typically get a batch of compost about every 2-3 months. I do stop adding to the compost when I want it to finish composting. ~TxH~

  6. Terri Presser

    You are absolutely amazing with all that you do and I so appreciate you sharing it with us at Good Morning Mondays. I always learn so much from you and your posts. Blessings

  7. Linda@MixedKreations

    Great tips! I do recycle everything that I can, we have curb side pickup and I take my plastic bags to the store. I do make some of my own cleaning products and gardening concoctions so I save containers for those. I did have a compost on a stand but the thing kept popping out of position so I couldn’t spin it )-; finally got fed up and sold it and just made me one on the ground, more work because I have to manually turn the leaves, etc myself unlike the simple give it a spin composter. Maybe one day I’ll get me another one. Yours looks like a better heavier duty one then I had. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Stephanie

    I’m always happy to see people who try their best to not create more trash. Kudos to you!

    I’m really excited to be living in western Washington now, as we have curbside recycling for just about everything except glass. It’s also common to have a compost pile, so we have a good sized one going in the back yard now.

    I make my own laundry detergent too, and am going to make my own dishwasher detergent now that our new one is installed. I even refill sample-sized bottles to keep out on my bathroom counter because they take up less room, and I hate to throw them out.

  9. Erlene

    Wow that’s amazing that you have so little trash. We’ve been trying to reduce our footprint and are slowly making progress. You’re such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing this on Merry Monday.

  10. Angi

    I really like these ideas! I will definitely be implementing these at our house. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Laura @ Little Bits of Granola

    These are such great tips! I like that you emphasize ways to reuse things to keep them out of the landfill and not just throw them in the recycle bin! Recycling takes tons of energy and resources too.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thanks Laura. It’s convenient to just recycle things which of course is a good thing, but by thinking outside the box you can usually easily & significantly reduce what goes to the recycling bin by reusing what you already have. It seems like we live in such a disposable society these days, we need to break free from that mindset! ~TxH~

      1. Laura @ Little Bits of Granola

        Yes! I wholeheartedly agree. And once you make that mindset shift, reducing waste is actually not inconvenient like people might think. It just takes changing our habits.

  12. AmieJo

    Great ideas. I want to get a compost, I am working on making my own cleaning products and we do recycle but I know we could do better thanks for the tips they will help.

  13. Laura

    Where did you get the razor you mentioned? I use the ones with the disposable heads so at least I am not throwing the handle away, but would love an even better alternative.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve had my Gillette safety razor for several years Laura, but you can still easily buy safety razors at Amazon –> (#affiliate search link) I buy my razor-blade refills at my local Dollar General for very little money. I hated throwing away all those disposable razors so I looked for a better alternative & although I was initially afraid of a safety razor thinking I’d cut myself, I haven’t experienced any trouble at all. A light touch and with slow & steady motion, I get a fantastic shave every time! I don’t think you’ll be sorry you gave it a try. ~TxH~

  14. Betsy @ BPhotoArt

    Thanks for the junk mail tip! We didn’t know about that… going to check it out now. Thanks for sharing at Happiness is Homemade 🙂

  15. Anna

    I love the junk mail reduction idea. You’ve used the service you mention for a while now and it’s totally legit? (Just asking because I’m always nervous about filling out forms like that.)

    About the compost tumbler, we bought one last year and I love it too, but I do have a sneaking suspicion it might not benefit the environment all that much on balance. I got to thinking: yes, I put a half-gallon or so of stuff in there daily that would otherwise go in the trash (including non-recyclable paper like used kleenex and toilet paper rolls), but on the other hand, how many loads of compost would I have to make to counterbalance the environmental cost of manufacturing the tumbler itself? Likely many decades, I suspect. . . I wonder if anybody out there has done the calculation?

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Anna, that’s an interesting angle and one that bears thinking about. A composter can be made with repurposed items like the slats of a pallet or used chicken wire and I guess environmentally that’s the best option. But I could never get compost out of one like that as I couldn’t keep it tumbled properly. I think an additional counterbalance to the tumbler itself (for me at least) is the rich compost I liberally add to my veggie beds, making it possible for me to provide more of my food for myself. A definite smaller footprint there, especially if you consider manufacturing processes and transportation. Not sure it’s a complete balance but certainly one that has an affect. And yes I used the mentioned marketing mail service years ago and it made a pretty immediate drastic difference in the volume of junk mail I received. ~TxH~

      1. Anna

        Right – I totally get it about the tumbling. I don’t fancy turning a heap with a pitchfork several times a year either. (I’ve read that as long as your pile is big enough and you’re willing to wait, it’ll eventually compost anyway, but I don’t have the right yard for trying that at present.)

  16. Wendy

    I rip up any credit card offers,put it in the postage paid envelope thats included and send it back to the company.I rarely get credit card offers by mail now. 🙂

    1. Sue

      we do the same thing, with all companies. we get a lot less junk mail.
      on some days no mail! yea !!!!
      have a great day!

  17. Jennifer

    You know, with DIY cleaning products, you never really think about the amount of trash that’s being reduced. I always think about a safer, cheaper alternative for the home, but it’s a good reminder that it reduces trash, too. Thanks!

  18. Texas Homesteader Post author

    When our septic system was installed (aerobic system) the installer said it would last much longer without having to be pumped if we would leave extraneous food waste out of the system. I don’t think it will make it fail or anything, just stretching the time between having it pumped out. ~TxH~

  19. Texomamorganlady

    I love the ideas, but why can you not use a disposal for food waste with a septic system? We do, and have for nearly 20 years. We have recently set up a compost pile, but that’s only been in use for a couple of years.


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