The best way to reduce waste is to reduce what you buy. Bring into your home only what you really need and know that you'll use - whether it's food, clothes, or electrical appliances. Bringing in less not only reduces the items you eventually have to dispose of but reduces their associated packaging, which is where much of your waste likely originates.
Living a simpler lifestyle isn't about doing without or cutting out the things you truly enjoy. It's about knowing the difference between what you "need" and what you "want." It's also about prioritizing - looking at your days and deciding what's really important to you so that you can make better decisions about how you spend your money. In this way, being careful about what you bring into the house has more benefits than just reducing the trash that you produce: It also can help to simplify your life and reduce your stress level.
Some experts suggest keeping a journal of everything that you buy for a month or even a week. When you review the journal, you may see patterns of spending emerge that you weren't even aware of. Perhaps you bring home convenience or takeout food more often than you realize, or maybe you make up for a tough day at work by buying yourself a "treat," such as a new piece of clothing for your closet. Simply recognizing these patterns may be enough to help you break out of them; the next time you're tempted by the fast food drive-through or the mall, think twice and keep going instead of stopping and shopping.
Another way to scale back your purchases is to opt for good quality items over mediocre quality ones. From the kitchen cupboards to the bedroom closet, buying fewer items of good quality keeps your spending in check and doesn't overwhelm your storage space. It also ensures that you're not throwing out items because they've worn out prematurely.
Be Mindful of Packaging
Keep in mind that the packaging of items you do buy is another important part of reducing excess. In an age where you seem to have less time and you're lucky just to get to the grocery store so that you can prepare your meals at home, you certainly don't have time to think about what happens to the packaging that's left over or whether you can recycle it. The good news, though, is that choosing products with minimal or recyclable packaging is easy to do without much inconvenience; you can incorporate this awareness seamlessly into your shopping habits with just a little assessment work on the front end.