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Ideas on how to reduce your household waste

Crews collecting black wheeled bin

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re all staying home as much as possible, and you might find that you’re producing more waste than usual.

During this time, we are asking residents to act responsibly and avoid presenting additional waste.  If every household presents additional waste, this will take up space in the collection vehicles and place additional strain on collection crews.

To help reduce the amount of rubbish going in your waste collections, we’ve pulled together some handy tips and ideas to save items from the bin.  

How to reduce your food waste 

There are steps we can all take in Essex to save food, and money. Before you go to the shops or create an online order plan out what meals you intend to cook.  Sticking to a list will help you buy only what you need. 

Store food products in the right place to help them last longer. For example, apples last for 2 weeks if they are stored in your fridge. Keeping your fridge below 5 degrees will also keep food fresher for longer.

Use up the food in order of use by dates and put food in the freezer if you are unlikely to eat it in time. have some ideas on. Find out how to store and freeze common foods at Love Food Hate Waste.

At this time, many of us are having to make better use of store cupboard essentials – tins, seasoning, oils, herbs, and spices – use Love Food Hate Waste’s recipe search tool to turn your store cupboard essentials and leftovers into something new and exciting! 

If you still have food waste such as raw fruit and vegetable peelings you could always try home composting, or for foods such as eggshells, bones, cooked foods and other items that can’t be eaten use your weekly food waste caddy.

How to dispose of garden waste

Many of us will be enjoying some fresh air at home in our gardens. If you're using this time to garden, rather than relying on your garden waste collections, you can make better use of your grass cuttings and hedge trimmings.

Composting at home is a natural process that turns some of your food and garden waste into soil improver for your garden. Composting at home is quick and easy to do, and you can get started right away by purchasing a subsided compost bin or building your own compost heap.

If you do not wish to compost at home, then we ask politely as you to please store your garden waste until services return to normal.

What to do with your waste if you’re having a clear out

Many of us are using the opportunity of being at home to have a clear out. If you’re sorting out unwanted items, then there are a number of things you can do to reduce your waste:

  • Keep good quality items to one side ready for when charity shops or furniture projects reopen
  • Freegle has suspended any in-person collections but you can still post an advert with your items ready for when things are back to normal
  • Store any items that can’t be passed on, until recycling centres reopen or special collections restart

How to reduce your general rubbish 


Did you know that each child will need, on average, 5000 disposable nappies, or just 25 cloth nappies? This means that switching to cloth is a great way to reduce your household waste if you have young children. It could also save you up to £1000 per child, which even takes into account the cost of cleaning. If you have more than one child, you can use the nappies again and again meaning an even bigger cost saving!

Cloth nappies are also great for your baby! They are made of natural comfortable materials such as cotton and bamboo, which are soft and gentle on your baby's skin, compared to disposables which are made of super-absorbent chemicals, paper pulp and plastic. Find out more about cloth nappies and how to claim your £30 refund

Baby wipes

Reusable baby wipes are also a great alternative to disposable baby wipes - the natural materials are more absorbent and super soft on your baby's skin or for wiping sticky fingers. Simply dampen the cloth wipes and pop them in a small bag or container to keep them moist. They’ll then be ready to use whenever you need them.  Find our more on cloth wipes and where else you can make the switch around the home.

How best to use your recycling bin  

You may find your recycling bin is filling up quicker than usual now you are at home more. Unfortunately some dry recycling collections may be suspended during these challenging times, however there are some easy things you can do to reduce the amount needing to be recycled.

Storing dry recycling

If your dry recycling collection such as paper, plastics, tins and glass has been suspended, please hold onto your recycling until the service restarts and do not place in your general rubbish collection. Additional materials placed in the general rubbish will take up space in the collection vehicles meaning some household might be missed and it places additional strain on collection crews.

Soap, conditioner and shampoo bottles 

By switching to a bar of soap, shampoo or conditioner, you can reduce the amount of plastic you use, save you money and take up less space in your bins. Not only are bars of soap often cheaper to purchase, they can last longer than shower gel bottles which makes it even more cost effective. Soap, shampoo and conditioner bars usually come packaged in cardboard which will take up much less space in your recycling than a plastic bottle.  

Plastic bottles

If plastic bottles are taking up too much space in your recycling, washing and squashing can help. Simply, give the bottle a quick rinse , squash the air out and then pop the lid back on.  


If you’re ordering more online instead of going shopping, you may have more cardboard than usual. Remember to press down and flatten your cardboard before placing in your recycling container to save on space! 

Tins and cans

To save space in your recycling container, empty, rinse and squash your tins and cans before recycling.

Find out more about waste and recycling

Coronavirus impact on waste services in Essex

Recycling centre temporary restrictions