Reduce waste

Top tips to reduce waste

Waste prevention is the most efficient way to reduce the environmental impact of waste – the biggest environmental impact from many everyday items we use comes from making them in the first place.

Hence thinking what we buy and making things last are the best ways to reduce this impact and also the amount of waste that goes into your bin.

Here are some suggestions of what you can do to reduce your waste - a small change can make a big difference:


Reduce packaging by buying loose fruit and vegetables or take your own containers to supermarkets for fresh meat and fish. If you can’t avoid packaging, choose packaging that can be reused or recycled.

Zero waste shops sell products in bulk without packaging, so you take your own containers to fill and re-fill. View locations of zero waste shops.

Avoid single use items

Think of items that you only use once. Could you replace them with something that can be used over and over again, such as a water bottle, coffee cup or shopping bag? There are washable silicone plate covers and beeswax sandwich wraps available that can replace cling film.

Sharing is caring

There are lots of good quality items looking for a new owner – you could also save quite a lot of money by buying pre-loved. Look at social media groups, online forums like eBay or Gumtree or charity shops. And once you have finished with the item, share the love by selling online, donating to charity or putting in one of the re-use cabins at recycling centres.


There are lots of options for having items brought back to life - look into having the item repaired rather than ditching and buying new. When you do have to buy a new item, look for items that are made to last and can be easily repaired. If you need help with repairing items, your local mens shed or repair café might be able to help, search online for your nearest one.

Loan, not own

Many DIY or garden tools are only used once or twice a year. Consider hiring instead of buying or borrowing from someone you know that already has the item. Some community groups and resident associations have also set up tool libraries, search online for your nearest one.

Experience gifts

Instead of buying items for others, think about getting them an experience instead. Meal vouchers, cinema vouchers or even an annual subscription to an organisation like the National Trust for Scotland often go down well. If you are able, a voucher for babysitting, dog-walking or giving your time in some other way can be appreciated more than a material gift.

Alternative recycling

TerraCycle has been set up with the suppliers to recycle some everyday items that are not accepted in kerbside collections. You can use them for recycling items such as razors, razor blades, makeup and more. This also raises funds for local projects and groups.

Plastic bags

For a carrier bag, the best option is to have a re-useable bag. Many supermarkets also take back all sorts of plastic bags for recycling. Check your local store or on Recyclenow.

Re-use line

If you have larger items that are still in good condition, you can have them collected by the Re-use Line, see the re-use tool on the Zero Waste Scotland website for more information.

Real nappies

Modern reusable nappies are practical, easy to use and an eco-friendly alternative to disposable nappies. If you are thinking of trying out real nappies and would like to speak to others that use them, check with your health visitor for local contacts or try:

Reusable menstrual products

Reusable menstrual products (such as: the cup, cloth towels, and period pants) dramatically reduce the number of disposables women buy and throw away each month, benefiting both the environment and your monthly expenses.