Zero waste living is all the buzz right now. You’re ready to start but could really use some simple tips for zero waste living because, geez, how in the world does anyone get started.
It can be super overwhelming because well, change can be difficult and you’re venturing into a world of the unknown…dramatic much?
Hear me on one thing though, Americans produce 1600 pounds of trash every year, we all gotta start doing something or we’re going to be living in a trash dump.
Because it can be so overwhelming, before we dive into my 9 simple tips for zero waste living, the first thing I recommend you do is be honest with yourself about how this is going to work.
What I mean by this is, truly living a zero waste lifestyle is next to impossible for the majority of Americans so you have to decide what it means to you. What is realistic for you and your family?
I raise this question because if you are an all or nothing kinda gal, zero waste living is going to be super tricky for you and I don’t want you to set yourself up to become discouraged and quit.
For me, zero waste living is my goal but my reality is it’s not possible SO particularly when I’m shopping, I begin with the end in mind.
Tip #1 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Consider the Packaging
Before you make a purchase, consider the packaging. What lower waste or zero waste alternatives are available? Can the packaging be recycled, composted or reused?
Can you switch brands in favor of products packaged in glass (that’s reusable) instead of plastic?
A couple easy zero waste alternatives include reusable produce and grocery bags instead of paper or plastic produce and grocery bags.
Instead of a foil lined cardboard carton can you buy the same type of product but in a steel can?
Rather than buying lettuce or greens in a plastic clamshell, can you buy them loose and just wash them at home?
See where I’m going with this?
The same thoughts go for grabbing a cup of coffee (we all need our coffee) on the go as well. Keep a reusable cup in your car so you’re always prepared with a zero waste alternative.
I keep reusable straws and utensils in my car in case we need to grab a ‘to go’ meal while we’re out.
These zero waste alternatives are super easy to incorporate into your new zero waste lifestyle.
RELATED: How to Be a Conscious Consumer
Tip #2 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Is There a Better Option
Thinking of cleaning and personal care products, are you mainly using single use disposable products that can be swapped out for a more sustainable zero waste alternative?
Things like paper towels, sponges, single use mop pads, dusting cloths, cotton balls, makeup pads, etc. All have more sustainable options that support a zero waste lifestyle.
Tip #3 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Is it a Need or a Want
We’ve become such a single use, throw away society sometimes we buy things just to buy them. I’m not passing judgement on anyone, I’ve done this myself many times.
By all means, keep enjoying your life but when you can, take a moment to decide whether you really need the product or not.
Is there a lower or zero waste alternative you can opt for instead?
RELATED: Going Green for Beginners
Tip #4 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Don’t Buy to Buy
This is similar to Tip #3 but here I’m referring to gift giving. I have been guilty of this myself, the idea of giving a gift is that you put thought into the gift with a specific person in mind.
For instance, for birthdays or Christmas (or really any gift giving occasion), I have been guilty of feeling like what I’ve giving isn’t enough so I’ve purchased extra things that I’m not entirely sure the recipient wants or needs.
I’ve definitely done this with my kids and then the gifts wind up not getting used/played with and become just more stuff cluttering up the house.
Think about giving practical and useful gifts or experience gifts instead of tangible gifts.
Know someone who’s just starting out? Give them the gift of a zero waste starter kit with tips to get their journey started.
RELATED: Best Gifts for Sustainability Lovers
Tip #5 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Shop Thrift Stores
You can find some super awesome deals at thrift stores. Clothing has a life longer than just one season and if you shop for classic looks, you’re bound to find good things at second hand online and brick and mortar shops.
Thrift stores are also a great place to find bikes, small kitchen appliances and trinkets, picture frames, even furniture and more.
If you have young kids, I’ve found thrift stores and consignment sales to be a fabulous place to find books, toys, clothes, nursery decor, etc.
Tip #6 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Donate
I know, you’re probably like come on Heather, this one is a no brainer.
Instead of throwing things away, you can always donate them to a local charity if the item(s) are in good condition. I’ve recently joined my local Facebook Buy Nothing group and I’m amazed at some of the things people are donating or asking for.
It can be a total treasure trove or give you a good chance to clean out your clutter. In fact, several times I’ve seen people asking for items I have but no longer use and never thought to donate.
Tip #7 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Repair or Upcycle it
Before you toss that broken or slightly torn item, can you repair it or turn it into something else?
It kills me that there are so many things that are just cheaper to buy new than to repair but remember, many times that comes at a cost to the environment.
I’m not suggesting that you go broke trying to save the environment but just consider repairing before tossing.
Tip #8 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Educate Yourself
Some of the best tips you’ll receive for living a zero waste lifestyle will come from documentaries, TEDX talks, podcasts, etc.
I spend a lot of time reading blogs and watching videos on YouTube or National Geographic but these are a couple documentaries on my list to watch:
- Clean Bin Project
- Plastic Paradise
- No Impact Man
- Bag It
- Living the Change
- Lightbulb Conspiracy
I’ve heard great things about all of them, now to just find the time to watch them.
Tip #9 of Simple Tips for Zero Waste Living – Give Yourself Grace
I think the most important tip I can share is to give yourself grace. Sometimes it can all seem like gloom and doom and if you aren’t all in, your efforts won’t matter.
We want to ‘do it all’ and like right this minute but making different choices and changing habits can be hard. I am in several online groups focused on zero waste and waste reduction.
People can be so judgmental that it can be so discouraging but just remember, we’re all learning and trying to do our best. Everyone’s circumstances are different and your journey is your own. So long as you’re trying, you are winning!
Putting it all together!
While living a zero waste lifestyle can seem super overwhelming, the best thing you can do is to JUST START. What inspires you? What’s important to you?
Refer back to tip #2 and comment below, which one of these simple tips for zero waste living can you implement today to just get going?