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Living a Life of Less | Waste

We have come to the last official post in the living with less series. Before I dive into today’s post, I just want to thank each and everyone of you who has been following this series and leaving comments and sending me messages about it. It is obvious that many of you are also feeling the need to live a life of less and I am so thankful that this has been a place where you have felt like you can share a bit of your journey with me.

While this may be the end of this series, next week I will be branching off and I plan on reserving one day a week to share all kinds of posts about living a simpler life (topics like budgeting, simple meals, making money stretch, ways to save, green cleaning, green beauty recipes, and so many more!). 

For now let’s talk about waste. 🙂

Growing up I was never really a green kind of person. I pretty much never recycled and definitely didn’t think about the environment much. Basically, I took what we had for granted, thinking that kind of stuff was only for special people. It wasn’t until a few years ago (mainly in the last year) that I’ve realized it’s a spiritual issue. God gave this land to us to take care of, and I know I definitely was not doing my part to take care of it.

In the last six months I’ve really become aware of how much waste we produce. The following are some ways I am currently trying to reduce waste (it is definitely not an exhaustive list and I’ll be sharing more ideas in upcoming weeks).

This is something we started just eleven months ago and now I’m kind of obsessed. Let me start by saying that the dirt in our yard is awful (you dig a few inches down and you are immediately into clay), so I love the idea of taking things that I was going to throw away and instead turning them into beautiful dirt for my garden! I’m not going to get into the logistics of composting, there is so much information available online.
Also, a bit of a side note, if you find yourself throwing fruits and veggies into your regular garbage thinking it will compost in the landfill; stop now. From what I read the conditions in the landfill do not allow these items to breakdown, so bite the bullet and set yourself up with a compost (if at all possible).

our beautiful compost bin, it’s actually full, we need another one

Before you recycle that item, think to yourself, Self, could I reuse this? To get the most life out of an item reuse it before you recycle it.

Double Sided Printing
If at all possible I like to make sure I double side my printing to save paper. If we have paper that we’ve printed on only one side or we got some junk mail in that has a blank side I stick it in the cupboard for Raeca to write on or for those times I need to quickly jot something down.

Wrap Gifts in Newspaper or Fabric
Save that newspaper (especially the comics), fabric scraps and even old cereal boxes and use them for wrapping gifts. Or if you get a lot of gift bags, keep them and use them for the next time you have a gift to giveaway (just make sure you remove the tag if there is one written in).

Replace Plastic Containers with Glass or Stainless Steel
Lately I’ve been saving every glass jar I can find, empty spaghetti sauce, apple sauce and pizza sauce jars are my friends. I’m using them for storing all sorts of dry goods.

coconut, chia seeds and raisins
just a few of the glass jars I’ve been saving for my dry goods

If you no longer have a use for an item and it can be recycled, please recycle it.

Buy in Bulk/Don’t Buy Individually Packaged Items
Ooh, if there is one thing I can’t stand it’s individually packaged items.  Between juice boxes, yogurt, fruit snacks, mini chocolate bars (who actually eats just one?), goldfish crackers, raisins, etc, you can pretty much buy anything individually packaged. But not only are you paying a premium for the extra packaging, you are making a lot more waste. So don’t do it. And buy in bulk whenever possible, it will definitely reduce some plastic waste.

Use Cloth Napkins and Cloths Instead of Paper Towel
We’ve been doing this for a few months now (I use these for wiping up spills and as napkins for Raeca). Actually, we still have some paper towel left but since we’ve been using cloth we rarely ever use the paper towel, we haven’t even gone through a whole roll in the last two months since the only times I’ve been using it have been for really, really dirty messes.

Use Reusable Shopping Bags and Produce Bags and Reuse Plastic Bags
Thankfully this is so easy to do now. Reusable shopping bags are so easily accessible and I love my produce bags (I use these ones). My town just got a Co-op, which I’m extra excited about because I just realized that they give me $0.03 a bag for each reusable bag I use, so over time it might actually pay for my bags. And if there is a day where I forget my bags or I didn’t bring enough and end up needing some plastic bags I make sure to reuse them (usually as garbage bags).

Conserve Water
When we move I hope to purchase a decent rain barrel but right now I just have a little bin out collecting a little bit of rain water for me to water my little garden with. I also make sure to conserve water as much as possible inside the house and am trying to instill that into Raeca as well.

Bike Whenever Possible
Cutting back on gas is fairly hard to do where I live (because it’s a big province and everything is spaced out). The one thing I’ve been trying to do this summer is to bike whenever possible. I put Raeca into the bike trailer behind me and we bike the 5km to and from the library once or twice a week, we also bike to the grocery store, farmer’s market and everywhere else we need to go in our town. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do this in winter but I’m trying to take advantage of the warm weather while I can.

I’m sure I missed some stuff but that is a general idea on some ways we cut back on waste in our home. Reducing our waste has actually made me feel like a better caretaker of my family and the earth that God has given us to take care of.

I’d love to hear from you!
How do you cut back on waste?
Also, are there any simple living post topics that you would like to see in the future?

Other posts on living with less:
you can also check out some inspiration and the entire series here.

Affiliate links have been used in this post, but trust me, I’m only recommending products I use and love.

P.S. Today is Fake Friday in our house (what we call it when Jared has Friday off) so for fun today you can get my regular ad space for half price! Just use the code: FAKEFRIDAY

Linking up with Casey Leigh.



Lovely Does It is a lifestyle blog that basically tells my story as a newlywed wife, living an adventure with my husband currently based in Alaska.  I love to write about our everyday adventures, our joys, the things we are learning, and photos of our beautiful backdrop.  It’s a place for me to document our lives and to remember to treasure the little things that can easily get buried in the middle of all the big things. 


Rivers and Roads was created as a space that values community and authenticity. I hope you always feel welcome, encouraged and inspired when you drop by for a visit. I want this blog to be a space where we can all grow together in community as we reach out and invite others to join the journey. Whether you are a blogger, a small business or shop owner, an obsessive DIYer, an adventure seeker, a Disney lover, a chaser of everyday moments, an ambitious creative, or a talented dreamer, this place is for you! 


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  1. These are all very practical! We don’t actually “compost”, technically, we’ve never organized ourselves that well, we just throw all of the peels and egg shells and whatnot into the garden or the woods behind our house and figure nature will take care of the rest. We also go grocery shopping at a store called Aldi which doesn’t give out bags…and we never, ever remember to bring bags with us, we just dump all the groceries into the back of the car without the use of bags. Oh well. When we do go to a store that gives us bags, we use them as trash bags so that we don’t have to buy those. I love buying in bulk when we can, but for a lot of things, the two of us don’t eat enough to have it makes sense to buy huge packages. I do buy our rice in 20 lb. bags–my Asian roots are showing, we go through a ton of rice in this house. And glass jars are great as reusable containers!

    1. You are composting very organically, I love that you have woods behind your house you can just throw that stuff into! I’ve never heard of a store that doesn’t give out bags, that’s awesome! Do you guys have a Bulk Barn around you? I like to buy some stuff there and just scoop however much I need into my produce bags (when it works, flours obviously don’t work in the holey bags).

  2. I love jars too! My husband’s always laughing at me because I take my morning coffee in a mason jar to work. He calls it my “Jar of Joe.” <3

  3. I’m also a glass jar hoarder 😉 And loved your suggestions on how to cut back on paper towel use, as it’s still a habit I’m trying to kick (we store ours in the basement and I have done well at avoiding use of them by not bringing a new roll up myself, but cave a week or so later once my husband replaces the roll)… Also, thanks for the link to those reusable produce bags! Great idea!

    1. I get it, the paper towel habit is a hard one for sure! There are still a few things that I grab it for. I think I need some rags in the kitchen for the messier things, right now I don’t want to use my nicer clothes for those times.
      The produce bags are fun, I pretty much feel like a full on hippie when I shop with them 🙂 (in a good way)

  4. I love biking whenever possible and the reusable bags are so easy but make such a difference. We don’t have a backyard, but do you have any suggestions for composting? Have you ever heard of composting in apartments? Maybe I’ll ask around for a friend looking for good compost for their garden because I really hate not using all the veggie peels and whatnot.

    1. I’ve heard of some people do worm composting in apartments, I’m not sure I could do it but I’ve never looked into it. I’ve also heard that some cities and towns have a compost drop off where you could drop of your scraps (the person I heard it from was from BC), or definitely try asking a friend.
      I use all my onion, broccoli, pepper, carrot and garlic ends and cuttings for making stocks, I just pop it in a bag in the freezer until I’m ready to make chicken (or other) stock and it adds a ton of flavor to the base without costing any money. If you make vegetable stock you could then compost the veggies when you are done, but if you make a chicken or beef one they will need to be thrown away.

      1. That’s such a good idea and I use stock in everything so it’s time I make my own. Also, I’ll look to see if there’s a compost drop off in town cause that’s such a good idea. Thanks for the tips!

  5. I laughed because this post could have been written about us and our house! I love feeling “crunchy” when I load all our non-packaged foods at the checkout counter. And glass jars, yes! (Some plastic too, because when they’re pulled out of the pantry it’s not a disaster.) I have a hard time finding big enough jars. When Travis isn’t around we often eat vegetarian and then I can just compost almost everything!

    Oh, and I was going to tell you my latest find – Castille soap. I bought a $13 foaming soap dispenser and a 32 oz bottle of castille soap. You make a mix of 2 oz soap, 4 oz water and 2 oz space for air. Then I’m not spending a ton of money on soap, it goes a long way and it’s supposed to be natural.

    Thanks for this post!

    1. Haha, too awesome! I definitely still have some plastics around but am working on switching them out for glass whenever possible, I hear you on finding the larger ones though, I keep meaning to check out some thrift stores for that.
      Where did you find the castile soap? I’m going to look into this for sure! (Funny you should mention it cause I just got a bunch of books from the library today about soap making)
      We’ll have to get together and share our crunchy notes soon! 🙂

      1. I get castille soap from the organic section at Superstore usually. Yes, we should discuss our findings soon!

  6. This is so awesome. I was never that person who really cared about recycling or the environment until maybe last year, and especially a couple months ago when I learned a lot about living on less when I was abroad. The host family I lived with had only one trash can, a fourth the size of the main one in my kitchen at home. I felt so bad that I was producing all this trash and I even kept a trash bag in my bedroom. I realized from that experience the different ways to live in regards to recycling and reusing, to not produce so much waste and to help the earth around us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this and keeping me in check with living on less! This series has been such a blessing for me! xo, gina

    1. I think us here in North America are the only ones who really create so much trash, it’s just not done in other parts of the world. Going abroad is definitely one way to kick start the process of learning to produce less waste.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the series, I’ve absolutely loved writing and living it!

  7. This is a great post! I am about to begin composting myself, and this weekend’s job is to sketch out plans for my backyard garden — which will be raised, because like you, we have a yard that is not conducive to growing things. :/ I only recently started reading your blog so I haven’t read the rest of this series yet, but I am looking forward to looking back through it, because I recently covered a similar topic and could always use the inspiration!

  8. So, so many great tips here, Chantel! I have absolutely loved this series + all the ideas you’ve given on living a life with less.

    PS – Your compost set-up looks great 🙂

  9. The “recycle” box next to our trash can is always full, but we have yet to find a place Downtown where we can take our recyclables! It’s so sad – especially since it’s such a habit. I’ll definitely have to take this advice about reusing glass jars!

  10. I have LOVED this series that you did. It’s definitely made me think about what I can do to live a life of less and has made me aware to some things I didn’t even know about! I’m sure I’ll be coming back to your archives to look back on these posts for more tips. 🙂

  11. I just caught the tail end of this series and can’t wait to go back and read. I never really thought that living simply was a spiritual issue until recently, and I can’t wait to see where these changes take our family (besides the fact that my husband has taken to calling me a hippie:).

      1. We have switched to green cleaning supplies (mostly) vinegar, baking soda and water. And I have cut up old clothes and we use those to clean with instead of throwing them out or using paper towels. I have also been looking into ethical clothing lines.

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  13. I read this post last week and can relate to almost everything on your list! Thanks for doing this series and putting this out there for others to become more aware! I have a question about your paper towel replacements — where do you store them while in use? We’ve transitioned to cloth napkins but haven’t made the switch with paper towels yet. I feel like my towels get dingy really quick and it just feels gross to have them lying around the kitchen all dirty and germy….what’s your solution for that?

    1. Oh I get this, I thought I would have them displayed nicely, but that hasn’t happened, since you are right, they get dingy pretty quickly. I just store them in a drawer right now, once we move I might look for an alternative situation, or maybe once I need to replace these cloths I will look into something with pattern to hide the stains.

  14. These are really great things to do. Living in Germany, most of them are engrained in the day-to-day life here (such as having a bin for compost, one for garbage, one for plastic, one for household-y items, one for cardboard, one for each kind of glass, etc.). But like you, I take it a step further and love saving old jars to use for craft projects, bulk spices and cooking supplies, etc. It’s a great way to reuse things without spending any extra money.

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