The main goal of a “zero waste” lifestyle is pretty simple: send nothing (or as little as possible) to landfills.
Even more than reducing, reusing, and recycling, this waste-free lifestyle requires a lot of rethinking and readjusting. Trash goes from something that gets tossed without a thought to something that is consciously considered. Some zero-wasters can even fit a year’s worth of trash into a single mason jar!
Sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be! Aiming for no-waste perfection overnight will send anyone into a stressful spiral. So, start by welcoming small changes into your life. And then add some more small changes. Over time, you may just surprise yourself with how much waste you’ve saved.
Here are 10 simple ways to introduce the “zero waste” movement into your life — one day at a time.
1. Say no
Reject everything from plastic straws to paper napkins to handout flyers. If you don’t need it — don’t take it. Sometimes saying “no” is the best thing you can do for yourself and the planet.
2. Make lists
Be a smart shopper and make grocery lists — that way you’ll avoid buying things impulsively and be more likely to eat the food that you purchase.
3. Stop your junk mail
Get out of the seemingly never-ending junk mail cycle for good! Download the PaperKarma app, take a pic of your unwanted junk mail, hit the “unsubscribe” button, and the app takes care of the rest.
4. Remember reusables
Treat your reusable grocery bags, utensils, water bottles, food containers, and coffee mugs like your best friends. Need some new reusables? Check out our Live Gently Upon This Earth Mug, Bambo “Be The Change” Straw, Small Acts Multiplied By Millions Can Transform This World tote, and bamboo utensils!
5. When in doubt, don’t buy it
Buying less stuff to begin with is the surest way to waste less. So next time you reach for your wallet… ask yourself, “Do I really, really need this?” Then, pause and reflect before you purchase.
6. Eat more whole foods
Unpackaged foods like fruits and vegetables will create a lot less waste than processed foods that come in wrappers and plastic packaging.
7. Ditch paper towels and napkins
Investing in tea towels, rags, and cloth napkins will help you avoid relying on disposable products that only last once.
8. Pick naked produce
Instead of picking produce wrapped in plastic packaging or grabbing those little produce bags, just grab the head of broccoli and put it in your cart since you have to wash it regardless. For smaller items like Brussels sprouts, consider investing in reusable produce pouches.
Before you trash that pair of jeans that you don’t wear anymore, consider donating them to a homeless shelter or giving them to a friend. If you want to make some extra cash, there are also plenty of online companies dedicated to selling used goods, such as Poshmark and ThredUp.
10. Remember, it’s a life practice not a race
There is no “finish line” when it comes to zero waste. Your version of zero-waste may look different from a blogger with thousands of likes on laundry jug flower planters. That’s ok. We all have different lifestyles, budgets, and priorities. So, instead of beating yourself up for changes you haven’t made, be proud of yourself for the changes you have made!
If you’re as excited about reducing your waste as much as we are, check out the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. It’s loaded with tons of tips for living consciously with the Earth in mind.
Want to learn more ways to live more consciously? Read these!
- 12 Books that will make you want to be a kinder, more eco-conscious person
- Think you know how to recycle? 11 ways you can do even better!
- 10 Eco-friendly habits you need to adopt now