Looking to reduce your environmental impact and live a more sustainable lifestyle? In this blog post, we explore the best ways to live a zero waste life, from reducing plastic waste and food waste to using reusable products, repurposing and more.
Zero waste. You’ve probably heard the term. But what exactly does it mean? And how can you cultivate a zero waste lifestyle of your own?
These are questions I asked myself as I slowly made small changes to my everyday habits in order to produce less waste and reduce my carbon footprint.
Why Aim for Zero Waste?
The goal of a zero-waste lifestyle is to produce as little waste as possible by reducing what you use, and reusing and recycling everything you can.
The zero waste movement was championed by pioneers like Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer, who encouraged people to think carefully about their consumption and find ways to use less and reduce their overall environmental impact.
Realistically, a zero waste lifestyle doesn’t mean actually producing ZERO waste. It’s more of an aspiration then an all-or-nothing concept.
Zero waste is a mindset that helps us be conscious consumers and to do our best to reduce waste when we can. Adopting a zero waste mindset is a way to take some control and responsibility for our actions and know that we are doing our best to help the planet.
Living a zero waste lifestyle is not only good for the planet, but it can also be good for your wallet. By reducing waste, we can save money on low-quality and disposable items and create a more sustainable and intentional way of living.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to reduce waste in our everyday lives and more toward a zero waste lifestyle:
1. Say No to Single-Use Plastics
One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce waste is to say no to single-use plastics. This includes items like plastic bags, straws, utensils, and water bottles. Instead of using disposable products, invest in reusable alternatives like cloth shopping bags, metal straws, bamboo utensils, and a refillable water bottle. Bonus: Reusable products are nicer to use!
2. Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is a significant problem in the US, with an estimated 30-40% of the food supply going to waste. To reduce food waste in your household, plan meals in advance, and only buy what you need at the grocery store. Store food properly to make it last longer, and use up leftovers in creative ways.
3. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to reduce waste and save money. By purchasing items like grains, nuts, and dried fruit in bulk, you can avoid excess packaging and reduce the amount of waste you generate. Bring your own containers to the bulk store or use the store’s provided containers to fill up on the items you need.
4. Use Refillable Cleaning Products
By making the switch to low-waste and refillable cleaning products, you will be reducing the number of plastic bottles you bring into your home. Many brands offer cleaning concentrates that can be poured into reusable bottles that can be used again and again. Cleaning product pods and strips are another low-waste option.
5. Opt for Reusable Products
In addition to reusable shopping bags and water bottles, there are many other reusable products that can help you live a zero waste lifestyle. Cloth napkins, beeswax wraps, and reusable food containers are all great alternatives to disposable items. You can also go zero waste in the bathroom by choosing items like a menstrual cup, a compostable bamboo toothbrush, and refillable shampoo and conditioner bottles.
6. Recycle as Much as You Can
When you are finished with an item – whether it’s a glass bottle, a paper box or an old pair of jeans – try to recycle it so that the material can be made into another useful item. We know that recycling isn’t the be-all-end-all solution, but it’s better than the landfill! Learn what can be recycled in your community and use alternative recycling programs like Terracycle and Ridwell when you can.
7. Consume Less
From social media promotions, to catalogs that come in the mail, it’s so easy to get caught up in mindless consumption. On the other hand, mindful consumption is all about being aware of your buying habits and making conscious choices about what you purchase. Next time you are tempted to buy something new, ask yourself – Do I really need this product? How often will I use it? Is there something I already own that I could use instead? Take a break before you buy and see whether the urge to buy is still as strong. Learning how to buy less can be empowering!
8. Compost Food Scraps
Composting is a helpful part of your zero waste lifestyle, as it can significantly reduce the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills. By composting food scraps and yard waste, you can create nourishing organic matter for your garden and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time. Depending on your living situation, you can go big with an outdoor compost bin, or stay small with an indoor compost bucket.
9. Choose Quality over Quantity
When purchasing new products, choose items that are high quality and made from sustainable materials like bamboo, organic cotton, and glass. Avoid products that are made from plastic and other non-renewable resources or that cannot be recycled. When buying gifts, find one high-quality item instead of multiple cheap gifts. Choosing quality over quantity means that products will last longer and reduce waste in the long run.
10. Support Local and Sustainable Businesses
Supporting local and sustainable businesses is an important aspect of living a zero waste lifestyle. By purchasing from local businesses, we can reduce the carbon footprint associated with shipping and transportation. By supporting sustainable businesses, we can encourage the production of products that are made from renewable resources and are designed to last longer, reducing waste over time. Here are some of my favorite stores to buy zero waste goods.
11. Use Your Own Containers
Many grocery stores now allow customers to bring their own reusable bags and containers for bulk items like nuts, grains, and spices. This is a great way to reduce waste and avoid excess packaging. Make sure to bring your own reusable containers, such as glass jars or cloth bags, to the store with you.
12. Use Cloth Towels Instead of Paper
Paper towels are a common household item that can contribute to a lot of waste. Instead of using paper towels, switch to cloth towels that can be washed and reused. I keep my reusable towels under the sink so they are always ready when I need them. This small change can have a big impact on reducing the amount of waste you generate.
13. Repurpose Old Items
Repurposing old items is a great way to reduce waste and give new life to things that might otherwise be thrown away. Old t-shirts can be turned into cleaning rags, glass jars can be used for food storage, and coffee grounds can be used as fertilizer for plants. Get creative and find new uses for old items!
14. Shop at Thrift Stores
Thrift stores and consignment shops are great places to find second-hand items. By shopping at thrift stores, you can give new life to items that might otherwise be discarded and reduce the demand for new products. Thrift stores are also a great way to find good deals on household items and clothing.
15. Educate Others
One of the best things you can do to make progress in your community is to educate others about the importance of reducing waste. Encourage your friends and family to make small changes in their daily routines – and you’ll be surprised how quickly it will make a difference.
16. Take Small Steps
Living a zero waste lifestyle can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that small steps can make a big difference. Define what zero waste means to you and your lifestyle and set achievable goals. Start by making one small change in your daily routine, like bringing your own shopping bag to the grocery store or using a refillable water bottle. Over time, these small changes can add up to a significant reduction in the amount of waste you generate.
Live Your Best Zero Waste Life
To wrap things up, living a zero waste lifestyle is about reducing waste in our everyday lives by making conscious choices about what we consume and how we dispose of it. By saying no to single-use plastics, reducing food waste, buying in bulk, using refillable products, composting, and taking other small steps, we can all make a difference in reducing the amount of waste we generate and preserving our planet for future generations.