ZERO WASTE FOR BEGINNERS

ZERO WASTE FOR BEGINNERS

November 10th, 2023 | Laura Fleming

I thought it would be a lot of fun to compose over 100 easy zero waste tips that you could implement relatively quickly. You might not be able to implement all of them today, but you can definitely get a jump start on a lot! 

These zero waste ideas will teach you how to go zero waste and get you started on a zero waste home. Zero waste living is about much more than recycling or water conservation. From DIYs to simple habit formation, these are zero waste tips anyone can do! Every day we have a choice to make this world a little less wasteful. What can you do to live more sustainably today?

You can find some good products on our Etsy store that just opened! 

How to go zero waste

Many people are overwhelmed when learning how to go zero waste. However, a lot of these zero waste ideas are SUPER easy to do — it just takes a little bit of commitment. Obviously, you don’t have to do everything on this list. Going zero waste is a journey, and a lot of times there is more than one option.

There is no one correct way to do something. Rather, there are a multitude of ways ranging from best to better to not so good. Weigh all of your options and be a conscious consumer. Reducing your consumption is the most important thing you can do.

But, in the meantime, pick a couple of things and give something new a try! You have to start somewhere. And, don’t let only being able to do a little prevent you from doing anything. All the little things add up to a massive impact! 

 


 

Why You’ll Love These Zero Waste Ideas

These are simple, approachable ways to reduce your consumption, without all the overwhelm

  • A zero waste home is the start of a more sustainable, zero waste community
  • These tips don’t require any preparation — you can start many of them today!

 

Zero Waste Tips

Tips for a Zero Waste Home

  1. Ditch tissues for handkerchiefs.
  2. Donate unused items in good condition to support the second-hand market.
  3. Try elderberry syrup if you feel a cold coming on, instead of immediately reaching for a plastic pill bottle.
  4. Always say no thank you to free promotional items. They tend to be cheap and break easily.
  5. Turn old sheets and towels into handkerchiefs, rags, napkins, and cloth produce bags.
  6. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush.
  7. Open a window to cool down your home or air it out.
  8. Wash clothes when they are actually dirty, instead of after only one wear.
  9. Try to avoid palm oil.
  10. Don’t leave your house without a full reusable water bottle.
  11. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap, it tends to come with less packaging.
  12. Unplug electronics when not in use.
  13. Change light bulbs to LEDs.
  14. Be mindful when using technology.
  15. Try canning to preserve food.
  16. Store your food properly to make it last longer.
  17. Repurpose stale bread.
  18. Put on a sweater and socks before turning up the heat.
  19. Get rid of pests naturally.
  20. Get some houseplants at a local nursery to purify your air, and don’t forget to return the little plastic pots!
  21. Plant a small garden.
  22. Start a backyard compost.
  23. Learn to regrow kitchen scraps.
  24. Line dry a load instead of using the dryer.
  25. Always run a full dishwasher or load of clothes.
  26. Ditch paper towels and use reusable paper towels instead
  27. Look into collecting rainwater or a greywater system.
  28. Avoid junk mail by placing a sticker on your box or going to dmachoice.org
  29. Meal plan to avoid food waste.
  30. Repair something when it breaks.
  31. Wash your clothes in cold water when you can.
  32. Make my favorite zero waste switch: look at installing a bidet attachment.

 


 

 

 

Waste Shopping Tips

 Don’t buy anything impulsively!

  1. Pick up a lonely banana.
  2. Buy food without packaging or minimal packaging.
  3. Think second-hand first when purchasing something.
  4. Instead of buying something when you’re having a bad day, do something! Try going on a walk, taking a yoga class, or meeting up with a friend.
  5. Surround yourself with items that serve multiple purposes to streamline and cut excess junk.
  6. Commit to bringing your reusable bags to the store. If you don’t have them, turn around and go get them! After forgetting them once, you won’t do it again.
  7. Swap disposable pads and tampons for cloth pads or a menstrual cup.
  8. Switch from a plastic disposable razor to a metal safety razor.
  9. Bring reusable produce bags for fruits and veggies.
  10. Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea in a reusable strainer.
  11. Buy more locally made goods.
  12. If you’re looking for a specialty item, like camping gear or an extra table for a party, ask a friend if you can borrow one before making a purchase.
  13. Surround yourself with tools and items that are meant to last a lifetime. Try to only buy objects once.
  14. Ask for no plastic and reused packaging materials for online orders.
  15. Ditch plastic shower loofahs for a real loofah or a bamboo bath brush.
  16. Most sunscreen causes coral bleaching — go coral friendly!
  17. Look into tree-free TP.
  18. Look into rechargeable batteries instead of disposables.
  19. Ask yourself if you truly need it before making any purchases.
  20. Swap don’t shop! Host a clothing swap with friends.
  21. Avoid receipts when out, and ask if one has to be printed. Sometimes they do, but not always!
  22. Ditch plastic Q-tips for plastic-free or reusable.
  23. Ditch sponges in lieu of compostable scrubs or brushes

 

 

 


 

 

 

Zero Waste Living Tips

 

  1. Try making your own lotion.
  2. Make dry shampoo to stretch between washes.
  3. Get a library card to support your local sharing economy.
  4. Make your own face mask from stuff in your pantry.
  5. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
  6. Build a zero waste kit and put in the trunk of your car or carry it with you when you’ll be out so you’ll always be prepared. It doesn’t have to be large just a few items!
  7. Try cloth diapering.
  8. Try making tooth powder to avoid unrecyclable toothpaste tubes.
  9. Learn how to freeze your food without plastic so it doesn’t go to waste.
  10. Make your own Febreze spray to freshen your room for pennies!
  11. Swap little plastic Chapstick tubes for DIY lip balm.
  12. Try your hand at an easy all-purpose cleaning spray.
  13. Pack your lunch instead of eating out every day.
  14. Reduce your meat consumption. If you’re not ready to go vegetarian start small: try Meatless Monday, weekday vegetarian, or even weekday vegan.
  15. Try homemade mouthwash.
  16. Make your own deodorant. (we have this at Laura's Refill Shop)
  17. If your destination can be walked in 30 minutes or less, get outside instead of driving.
  18. Bring your own to-go cup when getting coffee on the run.
  19. Learn how to repair a button or hem to extend the life of your clothing.
  20. Serve dinner with cloth napkins.
  21. Eat more vegetables and legumes.
  22. Keep a bucket in the shower to water plants or flush the toilet.
  23. Wrap presents in newsprint or not at all!
  24. Swap cotton rounds for reusable rounds. (available at Laura's Refill Shop)
  25. Focus on experiences rather than things.
  26. Make homemade gifts to give to friends and family.
  27. Try Wheatless Wednesdays to cut back on intensive grain farming.
  28. Keep a stocked pantry to avoid getting takeout on busy nights.
  29. Go paperless for all your bills!
  30. Make your morning cup of coffee with a French press or pour over with a reusable filter to avoid extra waste.
  31. Use both sides of the paper!

 


 

 

 

Tips for Being Zero Waste in Your Community

 

  1. Ask for a real mug at the coffee shop when staying in.
  2. Bring your own container for to-go food and leftovers.
  3. Take public transit if available or carpool.
  4. Join a community garden.
  5. Try to shrink the amount you recycle. Zero waste is about recycling less not more.
  6. Vote with your dollars for a sustainable future.
  7. Ask for no straw in your drink order when out.
  8. Know where everything you buy comes from whether it be food, clothing, or other household goods.
  9. Find your local cobbler to repair tired shoes.
  10. Learn where to properly dispose of items like gift cards, old cell phones, batteries and unusable cords. They can be turned in at Best Buy, etc.
  11. Find your local tailor to help with clothing repairs.
  12. Pick up litter when you’re out and dispose of it properly.
  13. Check out your farmers market.
  14. Beware of greenwashing, and always do your research.

 

Isn’t it expensive to go zero waste?

It absolutely does not have to be! In fact, many of these tips will actually save you money by reducing your consumption, eliminating single use products, and reusing and upcycling what you already have.

How long does it take to go zero waste?

That depends on the person! Some people aren’t able to commit to going zero waste all at once, and some are more sustainable than others to begin with. The important part is to do what you can and increase how much you’re doing as you go. Going zero waste is a marathon, not a race!

Are there any zero waste tips I left out? What would add to the list or tell someone who’s just starting the zero waste journey?

 

Thanks for reading! 

Laura Fleming

 

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