The New Year often brings ambitious plans to save money, become more environmentally conscious, or focus on our health & wellbeing – for most of us to abandon these goals before St David’s Day rolls around.

For those of us hoping to take small actions to be more sustainable – while being money-conscious – we’ve put together a list of suggestions for how to reduce and dispose of your waste to keep budgets on track.

Fly-tipping blights community landscapes and can lead to costly fines if your waste is found dumped, even if you paid someone to remove your unwanted items. Make sure you always use a registered waste carrier when disposing of your waste as this better protects your local environment, and saves you from facing expensive penalties.

Read on for our tips to help save money – and protect the environment – in 2023.

1.     Disposing of bulky items – avoid a £300 fine!

Scammers can offer illegitimate waste removal services, promising to get rid of bulky furniture or other items at a low cost. The household waste that falls into their hands is, all too often, fly tipped. If you pay someone to remove your household waste, and it is found fly-tipped, you could end up paying a £300 fine.

Your Duty of Care means you’re liable for ensuring you use a registered waste carrier to remove unwanted bulky items; it’s your responsibility to make sure your household waste is disposed of safely and legally. You can find a list of registered waste carriers via the public register.

If you have access to a car, you can dispose of your waste at a local recycling centre or tip.

Alternatively, your local council will provide a bulky goods removal service – check their website for more information. Councils will often have a set price for the removal of a few bulky items, so if you only have one item, why not ask your neighbours if they have anything to get rid of and share the cost.

2.     Save your community money

You may think you are doing a good thing leaving re-usable items on the street, on the off chance someone will claim them. But the reality is that, in doing so, you’re creating work for your local council and making the area look untidy. Leaving furniture or household products on the pavement can also encourage more dumping of unwanted items in your area!  See advice below for selling or donating unwanted items.

Save your local authority money and ensure you are disposing of your household items legally and responsibly. Always ask for a waste carrier licence when booking someone to take your unwanted items away.

If you come across someone who is offering waste removal services but doesn’t provide a waste carrier licence - and they don’t appear in the waste carrier database - you can report this to Natural Resources Wales. This will help save you, and your community, from potentially getting duped by a rogue trader.

3.     Sell or donate your unwanted items

A trip to the tip may be tempting when you’ve got boxes of unwanted items to unload, but there are alternative option that generate less waste and could make you some money.

An easy way to dispose of unwanted items is to advertise them on social media and online marketplaces for collection; this means you can sell your unwanted goods without having to leave the house.

Charity shops are also always looking for kind donations, with many accepting a range of household products – from clothes to electricals and furniture. Be sure to check what goods your local charities accept before donating.

Remember to only drop off goods when the charity shop is open, as leaving boxes outside the store is considered fly-tipping.  Some charity shops will even collect your items from you.

4.     Get more from your ingredients

If you have food that’s past its “best before” date, it’s worth checking if it’s okay to drink or eat before throwing it away – you can do this by checking its colour and consistency, as well as the smell.

Very ripe fruit can be transformed into delicious recipes; bananas can be used in cake and banana bread loaves, apples can be used in pies and muffins, and pears make delicious toppings for porridge when stewed.

Leftover salad leaves can be blended up into a pesto, and many food products can be frozen to increase their shelf-life – including milk, meat, and even cooked pasta. 

However, if in doubt and your food is past its use by date, it might be best thrown into your food waste bin. These are provided free by most local councils.

5.     Shop sustainably

Buying second-hand clothing can extend the life of unwanted clothes and can often be much cheaper than buying new.

What’s more, purchasing pre-loved clothes helps to combat the rise of fast fashion; an industry which has become increasingly popular over the last decade, contributing massively to the 35% of microplastics in the ocean.

Avoiding fast-fashion through sustainable, second-hand shopping helps keep our oceans clean, and provides us with alternative sources of low-cost clothing.

Many local shops and supermarkets are now offering re-fill stations, where you can bring your own jar or container and sustainably stock up on essentials like cereal and shampoo – if there is a re-fill station near you, check it out!

6.     Reduce, re-use

There are several small changes you can make every day that can help your wallet – and the planet.

Keeping re-usable plastics bags in the car for when you go shopping reduces plastic bag usage, and means that you don’t have to pay a carrier bag charge.

Another easy change is bringing your own reusable coffee cup when getting a coffee to go. Many coffee shops will offer discount and rewards for bringing your own cup, and you won’t be creating any hard-to-dispose rubbish.

You can also reduce your waste and save money by repairing your items – consider visiting Repair Cafes around Wales instead of buying new. Their friendly team of volunteers will help you to fix all kinds of items, from clothing to sports equipment and more.