Less Waste Home… when you are not Home

I only waste what I have to, so I like to take some of the following steps below to help avoid automatically wasting water and energy when I’m not home. Bonus, some of these tips are good as security measures as well. Maybe try some of these the next time you head out of town.

Put mail on hold

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This used to be a whole involved process that was a pain back in the day but now it is super easy to schedule a hold for your mail! This helps to keep your mailbox from overflowing and depending on your mailbox setup littering the street if the box blows open. An overflowing mailbox can be a sign that someone is not home, someone looking to rob a home would notice. If you are more comfortable with a trusted neighbor or friend picking things up that is another option.

Go the USPS website and fill out the form with your address information. You can only schedule one hold at a time so remember to do this for each trip you take.

*Disclaimer, I’m talking USA here, not sure about other countries 🙂

Avoid online orders around your trip time

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We have all seen the security videos of people stealing boxes from front doors, avoid this by waiting to shop online until you are back from your trip. This cuts down the waste of the item having to be reordered and keeps your home safe from people snooping around when they don’t see these things being picked up. Again, if you have friends or neighbors who can help, use this resource.

Another option is a UPS mailbox. This can be expensive but it takes your home out of the equation. You don’t have to think about when you might have ordered something and if you will be home to accept it.

Unplug Alexa or other smart speakers

If you have something like an Alexa, Eco or other smart speakers consider unpluging them when you are gone. If they support other smart devices in the house and have to be kept on, then of course keep it plugged in. For my purposes, I don’t need one running unless I am home. I unplug mine so it saves on electricity and I also avoid the risk of it randomly deciding to play music or something else strange (anymore remember the case of the Alexa’s randomly laughing?!). I’d rather not have Alexa’s creepy laugh or music alerting my neighborhood I’m not home.

Unplug and power down

Other electronics you can switch off? Computers, TVs, sound systems, kitchen applicances, bathroom applicances and so on. Certain items in our homes only need to be powered when we are there to use them. So why run that computer for a week that you are not using it? If you have something like a curling iron or a toaster plugged in, unplug it. Just because it is powered on, doesn’t mean it is not pulling power.

Water off switch

The previous owners of my house installed a switch to turn the water off to the washer after they had a flood from a bad appliance. I take advantage and turn this off when I’m not home, just another precaution so I don’t waste water or have damage to the house.

Close blinds or shades on windows

If you don’t have energy efficient windows, it is wise to make sure the blinds are closed to keep the sun from warming the house if that is a concern. From a security perspective this is a smart move as well.

Timed lights

Most people like to do this to give the illusion that someone is home when no one is. This can save you leaving lights on 24/7 and wasting energy. If you have smart home features and you can manage removely, do that. If not, you can purchase a timer like the one pictured above to switch lights on and off at certain times.

Empty waste

I empty the trash, recycling, and compost before leaving the house. This is less about avoiding waste, and more about keeping your home from smelling and clean.

Water plants with sitting water

Water plants with any sitting water from pet bowls. I hate to waste water and this also avoids any insects like mosquitos from getting to it. If you prefer you could move it to a bee bath for your garden.

Smart Thermostats

I don’t personally own one of these but if you do, read up on the eco features. You can set it to sense when you are not home to adjust the temps in the house. It is not recommended to turn this off completely, most likely you have plants or other items in the home you don’t want to get too hot to too cold. It also can overload your system when trying to quickly get your home back into a comfortable state.

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My name is Kate and I'm a world traveler looking to make a positive impact by reducing my waste and single plastic use.