In this day and age, people generate a large amount of trash, contributing to environmental pollution. And, as environmental pollution worsens, people are becoming increasingly concerned about how to protect this planet we call home. With this concern, a new lifestyle, known as the ‘zero waste lifestyle’ was born, and its roots are spreading day by day.
What Does Zero Waste Mean?
Zero waste is a term that commonly refers to a philosophy and way of life that involves a set of principles aimed at reducing human-produced trash.
The Best And Simple Tips For Zero-Waste Living
Does the sight of all the waste around you break your heart? Do you wish you could do something but believe your contribution would be insufficient? First things first, there is no such thing as a small contribution. Take a step toward zero-waste living, and you can do wonders to eliminate waste. So take little steps and be gentle with yourself and the process with these 50 simple tips for zero-waste living.
1. Begin With Composting
Composting is one of the first but best zero-waste living tips you can (literally) get your hands on! It is the quickest and simplest way to reduce the amount of waste you send to landfills. Kitchen scraps like carrot peels, eggshells, and coffee grounds can be placed in a compost pail right under the kitchen counter for composting.
2. Buy Eco-Friendly Or Zero Waste Products When You Need New Items
Sustainable living is, of course, first and foremost about minimizing our material needs. But, also seek durability and quality over quantity in the things you purchase. To support this cause, shop from eco-conscious shops and buy sustainable living products like bamboo toothbrushes, steel or copper water bottles, reusable shopping bags, etc.
3. Buy Vintage Furniture
Have you grown tired of your living room furniture? Before purchasing a new furniture set, and adding more to the landfills, check the internet for the availability of used furniture. There are numerous sites where you can sell and buy higher-quality secondhand goods, like Kaiyo or Etsy. Even better, support your local shops or look for thrift stores around the corner.
4. Choose The Right Kind Of Clothes
One of the most overlooked tips for zero-waste living is to buy the right clothes (in terms of sustainability.) This does not imply that it should bear an eco-friendly label, but if it has been made using the least resources wins brownie points. Since untreated toxic wastewater from clothing factories is directly dumped into rivers, the fashion industry is now the second-largest polluter in the world.
So, instead, choose clothes made in countries with stricter environmental regulations for factories, like the US or the EU. Likewise, you can choose organic and natural fibers produced without chemicals.
5. Carry Your Own Bags And Containers
Choosing products with less packaging is necessary for zero-waste living. So, remember to always carry your own bag or container when out shopping. Carry a cloth bag with you for everything from groceries to clothes, and use it until you need another eco-friendly bag! Also, remember to support your local shops by purchasing from them instead of fast brands or larger chain stores.
6. Do Not Toss Out Meat Leftovers; Instead, Use Them
(Vegans, you can skip to the next point.)
The process of sourcing, slicing, and utilizing the entire animal for the meat is known as whole animal butchery. This is yet another one of the doable tips for zero-waste living for showing (slight) consideration to the animal by utilizing each part. It is also a respect for the rancher by paying him a fair price, respecting the customer by maximizing quality, and the environment by not discarding leftovers.
7. Opt For Eco-Friendly Hotels And Eco-Travel Options
Are you one of those who feel extra guilty when traveling and using those mini-toiletries from the hotel bathroom? Not anymore. With numerous eco-friendly hotels and modes of transportation available today, it’s time to let go of your guilt.
Walking to that mall you’ve always wanted to visit, cycling and exploring a new city, or using electric bikes are also examples of eco-friendly transportation modes!
8. Avoid Extra Shopping
Accept it or not, that item you got on sale, that two-for-one bargained product, or that extra meal you took ‘just in case,’ contributes to a lot of waste. You can observe your own patterns and avoid buying those unnecessary items you will never use. You would save some guilt, resources, and products, but you’d also save some money. You can always shop for sustainable products to start living greener!
9. Love Your Food Leftovers
“40% of all food is wasted in the United States, and nearly half of that waste comes from households.”
If you hate leftovers, make an effort to avoid them in the first place by matching the amount of food you cook/ buy with the amount of food you eat. Whether eating at home or a restaurant, never throw away edible food in the trash. Because when your hard-earned money and resources are at stake, no amount is too small to save. You can always get creative in the kitchen and combine leftover vegetables into new dishes or bake them.
10. Support Eco-Friendly Businesses
Supporting an eco-friendly business or brand is a must-do if you want to start living greener. Why, you may ask? Apart from being one of the most essential tips for zero-waste living, keep in mind that the company is also on the same planet-friendly path as you and needs your help. Thrift stores, for example, exist because there is a consistent demand for used clothing. And this demand can reduce the amount of clothing waste produced.
11. Say No To Freebies
Analyze your surroundings and list all the freebies to refuse to have them. Because as difficult as it may seem, refusing them is feasible! These marketing strategies have worked on you, from company logo pens mugs with pictures to real estate notepads; and you honestly don’t even need them! Remember, the more you say no, the less the demand for more waste in the bins.
12. Don’t Be Tempted By Minis
Who doesn’t like being surprised by those tiny, cute pieces of beauty you find at the hotels on your trip? But hey, using them is the absolute worst thing you can do to the environment. Those minis have very little product but create a lot of waste in the bins. In such cases, try to choose refillable products or sustainable living products that benefit the planet rather than harm it.
13. Reuse, Upcycle, And Repurpose Whatever You Can
Before you decide an item has outlived its usefulness, see if there is a new way to reuse it or even upcycle and repurpose it. Glass jars (for sauces or jams) are typically washed thoroughly before being reused as cups or new containers, rather than being recycled.
When worn to the point of holes or rips, old t-shirts should be ripped further to become reusable cleaning rags, or cut to be a part of a rug or t-shirt quilt. In addition, there are numerous eco-friendly activities you can take up to reuse and upcycle products that would otherwise be discarded or recycled.
14. Find New Routines For A Zero Waste Life
This is one of the simpler tips for zero-waste living. Routines are dependable and can quickly become an automatic habit. So once you’ve begun your zero-waste living journey, remember it will only get easier. Composting and gardening are the two new yet doable eco-friendly activities you can take up, starting today.
15. Identify Your High Waste Areas
Before you begin your eco-friendly journey, first identify the problem areas! Food products, food packaging, overcooked/ undercooked food items, and excess food are some of the most wasteful areas in most households. In other cases, beauty products or cleaning supplies are the most wasteful — which should be avoided. But once you’ve identified these waste areas, it’ll be easier to plan steps to reduce waste and eliminate it entirely.
16. Take Your Own Containers Along, If Feasible
Get a to-go box, or better yet, bring your own container when dining out. After a home-cooked meal, pack up the leftovers and place them in the fridge after everyone has finished eating, but do not toss them away. However, if you want zero-waste takeout, call up and ask if you can bring your containers. If they say yes, go ahead and have them pack your food into mason jars or metal tiffins that you can take back home to eat. You’d undoubtedly save a considerable amount that was destined for the trash bin.
17. Focus On How Waste Can Be Reduced
In line with the above ideas, assess what can be reduced once you know how much waste your activities generate. For example, instead of drinking water from plastic water bottles, get a reusable bottle or coffee cup to carry with you, at all times. You can also lovingly have piping hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate with you on the go if you invest in high-quality thermos.
18. Buy Things In Bulk
Once you’ve identified that waste can be harmful in every way, it’s crucial to find alternatives to the whole problem. So, buying in bulk is a doable thing! Buying goods, clothes, or food in bulk will benefit your pocket and the environment. For example, you can stock up on toilet paper by subscribing to Who Gives A Crap.
19. Say No To Straws
This is one of those tips for zero-waste living that accepts no excuses! Initially, something which may seem unforgettable or overlooked can have a huge positive impact on the planet. For example, once you’ve practiced saying no to plastic straws when ordering your favorite drink, you can make it a habit to carry your own steel straw or say no to straws altogether.
20. Set The Bar For Yourself
Charity begins at home! If a year without purchasing anything new seems too much, start from keeping a month’s target or only buying secondhand. Also, before purchasing anything untouched, including sustainable living products, ask yourself, “Will I use it at least 30 times?” If so, go ahead and do it! If not, you know the drill. (DO NOT BUY IT!)
21. Have A Big Heart And Give Stuff Away
What may seem unimportant to you may be valuable to someone else. You can always donate your unwanted items to charities, thrift stores, or cancer stores. Sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Freecycle can also help you connect with people who want to buy what you’re selling. After all, you know what they say about one person’s trash being another person’s treasure.
22. Pick The Right Packaging
Whether you’re shopping online for small beauty products you’ve always wanted or purchasing a piece of jewelry, remember that less (packaging) is always more. So choose brands that use less environmentally harmful packaging, like plastic materials; instead, use recyclable or compostable cardboard packaging.
23. Choose Gifts That People And The Planet Will Love
Gestures can sometimes mean more than gifts that are destined for the trash. Give your loved ones the gifts that will stand the test of time by serving as a reminder of them. Some of the gifts you can ask for are donations to your favored orphanage, tickets to a nearby animal park or bird sanctuary, or a bicycle ride around town. Remember that the planet is just as important today as it was yesterday.
24. Go With More And More House Plants!
It is rightly said one can never have enough house plants! Indoor plants not only enhance the aesthetics of a space but can help you feel good about yourself for zero-waste living. You can also do eco-friendly activities or DIYs to improve your eco-living by making your planter from items around your house.
You could, for example, recycle old plastic bottles by cutting the bottom off and using it to make a makeshift pot for seedlings.
25. Go Vegan!
If you’ve made it this far in the article, we know you’re already excited to follow these tips for zero-waste living, just like us. So, the best thing you can do today is to go vegan, which is one of the most incredible ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It takes over 2400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, compared to 25 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat! A vegan diet has a much lower carbon footprint than meat or vegetarian diet. Thus, one of the most direct ways to practice eco-living is to change the food on your plate.
Also, if you’re an animal lover, you can discover good alternatives to real leather here.
26. Say No To Trends
It can be tempting to follow every new fashion, gadget, or game trend on your social media feed. But whatever you see does not have to be a part of your wardrobe. Since these items will only be displayed in your closet, you will eventually discard them, and the planet doesn’t need them. Always ask yourself if you will want this item a year from now and if it will stand the test of time.
27. Shower Responsibly By Saving Water
Engaging in eco-friendly activities is not always necessary; sometimes, a small act of kindness to the environment is enough. For example, shower responsibly to save water using a low-flow showerhead, which you can buy for as little as $10 at any hardware or home goods store. This simple switch can save you and the environment up to 6.4 gallons of water per minute of showering. So, look for a showerhead that reduces water flow while you lather your hair, brush your teeth, or soap up your kids.
28. Use Planet-Friendly Sanitary Pads Or Tampons
Tampons are used by approximately 43 million women in the US, and a woman uses 11,000 tampons throughout her lifetime. However, consider the amount of waste that these tampons and sanitary pads generate in the bins. So, for waste-free living, consider options like sustainable period underwear or organic tampons to reduce the number of sanitary products thrown away.
29. Find Good Swaps
How can we discuss waste-free living without mentioning recycling? Yet, according to TerraCycle’s resident beauty industry expert Gina Herrera, “50% of people do not even try to recycle their empty containers because it is deemed inconvenient.“
Plastic items can be replaced with greener alternatives. For example, begin by swapping plastic toothbrushes for biodegradable toothbrushes, plastic-stemmed cotton buds with paper stemmed cotton buds, and plastic straws for reusable, biodegradable bamboo straws.
30. Repair Items Before Replacing Them With New Ones
Take note! Before you go out and buy something new to replace a broken item, see if you can repair it. Sew up that hole, get some new screws for that gadget, and repaint that table. Don’t get sucked into the throwaway culture; instead, try DIY fixes.
31. Do Not Toss Your Clothes, Alter Them Instead!
That piece of cloth does not belong in the trash! You can opt to use, recycle, or donate them as needed. You can even channel your inner artist by pairing the cloth in various ways for a zero-waste lifestyle. A boatload of DIYs is available on the internet that you can either alter to match current trends or transform them into different objects.
32. If You Can’t Avoid Newspapers, Recycle Them
Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year, that’s about 680 pounds per person.
We enjoy reading just as much as anyone else and are committed to promoting the written arts. However, newspapers and magazines (frequently read only once) negatively contribute to landfills. This can be avoided by reducing your use of paper by going digital. Or if that isn’t possible, consider recycling them! For example, a single run of the Sunday New York Times recycled would save 75,000 trees. So, instead of encouraging more tree destruction, get a library card, eReader, or audible membership. You can even get PDF subscriptions to your favorite newspaper.
33. Switch From Light Bulbs To LEDs
Sustainable living calls for sustainable living products! So, consider switching all your light bulbs to LEDs for living greener. This helps in lowering your electricity bills while being more eco-friendly! A win-win!
34. Unplug Electronics When Not in Use
What could be better than green living while aspiring to follow eco-living habits? While unplugging low-power appliances won’t drastically reduce your energy bill, you will save energy in some cases by turning them off or unplugging them. “For example, you should probably keep your computer equipment on a power and surge protector bar, and turn the bar off when the computer is not in use,” Green Energy Efficient Homes recommends.
35. Switch To Silicone Baking Mats
Are you a passionate baker who struggles with the guilt of unintentionally harming the environment? It’s time to bake without guilt by tossing out the aluminum foil, which you can only use once. Instead, switch to eco-living by using silicone baking mats to keep your baking sheets clean and your food from sticking. This can save you a trip to the store and some money!
36. Be Creative With The Items You Have
It’s surprising how long it takes to use everything up. But the more you believe that every bit counts, the more you will contribute to the planet. From beauty products such as moisturizers to food in your pantry, you simply need to delve into your cupboards to use up everything you have there. You can do a lot with one item, from interesting DIYs on the internet to your grandma turning that piece of cloth into a wearable outfit.
37. Stick To A Budget
As inconvenient as it may seem, trust us when we say that creating a budget is one of the best tips for zero-waste living. It can help reduce the number of things you buy, the money you spend on unnecessary items, and the extras you may need later. Of course, even if you’re on an eco-friendly trip, you can always save money by cycling or walking around the city.
38. Use Eco-Friendly Cookware At All Times
Not just you and me, but most of us embrace the societal preferences of using paper plates, wax paper, aluminum foil, or styrofoam cups! But do we need them? NO! It can reduce the amount of cleanup you have to do after cooking and the fun BBQ nights, but it does take a toll on the planet. So, instead, opt for eco-friendly cookware and cutlery for guilt-free cooking and post-party pleasure!
39. Drink Your Tea Or Coffee Responsibly
Instead of using plastic cups while on a staycation or an outing, always bring a reusable bottle or cup. Buy coffee and tea to make at home and get your caffeine fix in a reusable mug. Since teabags contain plastic, you can switch to drinking loose tea from a teapot with an infuser. If you’re a tea addict like most of us, you’d be saving a lot of waste.
40. Use Eggshells As Pots
Did you know you could recycle eggshells and use them as planters for eco-living instead of plastic bottles? It’s free, waste-free, and most importantly, a good source of calcium; so when planted with the sprout, it adds nutrients to the soil.
41. Say No To Plastic Bags At All Times
We’re guessing you already have some bag that you’d use lying around the house on your grocery shopping! However, try using reusable totes or mesh net produce bags for all of your shopping (grocery or otherwise). If you forget your tote (no worries, we’ve all done it), ask for paper, which is at least compostable.
42. Reuse Gift Boxes and Wrapping
Come on! You’d know that wrapping a gift generates a lot of waste. There’s the box, the wrapping paper, the tissue paper, the ribbon, and so much more. So, save these accessories and re-wrap someone else’s the next time you receive a beautifully wrapped gift! Or else, you can do some eco-friendly activities with your kids by creating some cute DIYs for your home with these gift wrapping ideas. (otherwise destined for bins)
43. Check The Labels Before Investing
Look for the certified labels on your beauty products or home goods to determine how green and clean they are. While some brands on the market do not live up to their ‘organic,’ ‘natural,’ ‘eco-friendly, ‘vegan,’ and ‘clean’ labels, most others do. It all comes down to finding the right brand for your purpose and sticking with it for almost everything. For example, you can find everything sustainable on Patagonia or Thrive Market!
44. Replace Plastic Bottles By Introducing Bar Soaps In Your Life
Switching to bar soaps is one of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating unnecessary chemicals and plastics. On a regular basis, bar soaps require roughly one-fifth of the energy needed to produce liquid soaps and detergents. Another advantage of bar soaps being better than traditional shampoo bars is that you use less per application, and they last longer if maintained properly.
45. Find A Local Food Seller
The shorter the food chain, the less waste before it gets to your kitchen. For waste-free living, find a local food seller and try to get the best prices on your vegetables or other food extras he may have. Also, as you move up the food chain, you tend to pay more while compromising food quality due to travel.
46. Go Plastic-Free With Your Products
So, what do toothpaste, deodorant, beauty products, and the oceans have in common? PLASTIC! It hides in our everyday personal care products, which end up in the ocean. With a quick Google search, you’ll be able to find plastic-free brands and products that will fulfill your (and the ocean’s) dreams. But, remember, it’s also possible to find plastic alternatives and avoid single-use plastics for waste-free living.
47. Choose Brands And Materials Wisely
Choose materials that not only stand the test of time but will also stand the test of your wallet. You might be wondering if sustainable brands are expensive. That’s not the case. Instead, you have to find the right eco-friendly clothes or vegan footwear brands that are nothing short of the best for the planet.
48. Opt For Reduced Items At The Supermarket
Supermarkets often have reduced items at the end of the day that will fall in the trash, if nobody buys them. So, if at all possible, try to do your next shopping during the evening hours when the reduced items are on sale. You’ll often find items already on your list, or ones that you could utilize in your monthly shopping lists.
49. Pick Up Litter Whenever You Spot It
Ironically, if you don’t start, you can end your tips for zero-waste living by picking up after yourself. If you’re a dog parent or an environmentalist, you know what a piece of trash on the ground can do to your mind. So, you can start by picking up litter on your way home. Or if you want to volunteer, you can form your own group and organize a beach cleanup day with your friends.
50. Unsubscribe To Everything That’s Jeopardizing Your Sustainable Journey
“If someone wants to quit fast fashion, I recommend unsubscribing from all emails,” says Aja Barber, a writer, and fashion consultant. Disassociate yourself from fast fashion brands or labels that are cruel to animals. These brands do not have to be limited to clothing; they can also include the foods you eat or the accessories you flaunt. You can always unsubscribe and unfollow celebrities or influencers who promote fast fashion labels that aren’t Earth-friendly.
If you’ve made it here, kudos to you from Team GoodGuilt! Let us know which of the tips for zero-waste living listed above are the most doable for you.