September 11

30+ Zero Waste Tips to help you get started on the Zero Waste Journey


What is leading a zero-waste lifestyle?

The term “zero waste” has been thrown around lately, but what does it actually mean? Put simply, zero waste is the philosophy of minimizing our impact on the planet by reducing the amount of waste we create.

This means rethinking how we live, from how we consume and dispose of products to how we power our homes and transport ourselves. It’s about creating a closed-loop system where everything is reused, recycled, or composted back into the earth.

Leading a zero-waste lifestyle can seem daunting at first, but it’s actually not as difficult as it sounds. And it comes with a whole host of benefits, both for you and for the planet. In this article, we’ll give you 30+ tips to help you get started on your own zero-waste journey.

What are the 5 Rs of zero waste?

The 5 Rs of zero waste are a helpful framework to guide your journey towards a zero-waste lifestyle. They stand for Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (compost).

Refuse: The first step is to refuse what you don’t need. This includes things like single-use plastic straws, disposable coffee cups, and those pesky plastic grocery bags. When you’re offered something that you know you’ll just throw away, simply say no.

Reduce: Once you start refusing single-use items, the next step is to reduce the amount of stuff you consume overall. This might mean buying in bulk to avoid packaging or choosing quality over quantity. It’s also a good idea to repair and reuse items instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.

Reuse: Reusing items is a great way to reduce your waste. And it doesn’t have to be difficult – there are many easy ways to incorporate reuse into your life. For example, you can carry a reusable water bottle or coffee mug with you, bring your own bags to the grocery store, or use a reusable lunch box.

Recycle: When you can’t refuse, reduce, or reuse an item, the next best option is to recycle it. This ensures that the materials in the item are diverted from landfill and turned into new products.

Rot (compost): The final R is rot, or composting. This is a process of breaking down organic waste (like food scraps and yard waste) into nutrient-rich soil that can be used to grow plants. Composting is a great way to reduce your waste AND help your garden thrive!

Now that you know the basics of zero waste, let’s dive into our tips to help you get started…

Get refillable home essentials to your door, helping you reduce waste

One of the best ways to reduce your waste is to switch to refillable home essentials. This means finding a company that will deliver items like laundry detergent, dish soap, and hand soap in reusable containers. Not only will this help you reduce your waste, but it’s also more convenient (and usually cheaper) than buying these items in the single-use form.

Give reusable period wear a go

This might not be something you’ve considered before, but ditching disposable period products in favor of reusable ones is a great way to reduce your waste. There are many different types of reusable period wear available, from menstrual cups to cloth pads. And they’re not as difficult to use as you might think! Make the switch and see how you like it.

Swap to refillable cleaning products

Just like with home essentials, you can also find companies that will deliver refillable cleaning products right to your door. This is a great way to reduce the amount of plastic waste you create, as most cleaning products come in disposable bottles.

REFUSE: Send no more to these common waste sources

You can further reduce your waste by refusing common items that end up in landfills. This includes things like plastic straws, coffee stirrers, and disposable cutlery. Whenever you’re offered one of these items, just say no. It might seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference!


PAPER: The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. Refuse unwanted mail, use both sides of the paper, and go paperless whenever possible.

ELECTRONICS: Many electronics contain toxic materials that can leach into the environment. Recycle old electronics at an e-waste facility.

PRINTER INK AND TONER CARTRIDGES: These cartridges are made of plastic and often end up in landfills. Recycle them instead.

BATTERIES: Batteries contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the environment. Recycle them at a local hazardous waste facility.


TOILETRIES: Many personal care products contain harmful chemicals and end up in landfills. Look for natural and eco-friendly alternatives.

DISPOSABLE RAZORS: Plastic razors are difficult to recycle and often end up in landfills. Switch to a safety razor or electric razor instead.

FLUSHABLE WIPES: These wipes contain plastic and don’t break down in sewers, causing clogs and flooding. Use toilet paper instead.

CLEANING PRODUCTS: Most cleaning products come in plastic bottles and contain harmful chemicals. Choose eco-friendly alternatives instead.


DOG WASTE: Dog waste is full of bacteria and can pollute waterways. Pick up after your dog and dispose of the waste properly.

CAT LITTER: Cat litter is often made of clay, which is mined from the earth. Choose a more environmentally friendly option, like recycled newspaper pellets.

HORSE MANURE: Horse manure can be used as compost or fertilizer. Or, it can be collected and sold as “bagged” manure.


FOOD SCRAPS: Food scraps can be composted or fed to chickens (if you have them).

COOKING OIL: Cooking oil can be recycled into biodiesel.

PLASTIC BAGS: Plastic bags are one of the most common types of litter. Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping.

STYROFOAM: Styrofoam is a non-recyclable plastic-type and often ends up in landfills. Avoid using it whenever possible.

WATER BOTTLES: Water bottles are made of plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down. Bring your own reusable water bottle instead.

TO-GO COFFEE CUPS: To-go coffee cups are lined with chemicals, which can leach into your drink. Bring your own reusable mug instead.

REDUCE: Do you really need it?

One of the simplest ways to reduce waste is to simply ask yourself if you really need the item in question. For example, do you really need that new piece of clothing? Can you repair the one you have instead? Do you need to use disposable plates and cups, or can you wash and reuse them?

Support zero waste and ethical brands

Over the past few years, a number of ethical and sustainable brands have popped up in response to the growing demand for more eco-friendly products. These brands are often committed to reducing waste, using recycled materials, and avoiding harmful chemicals.

As they’re competing with traditional brands, it’s important to support zero-waste brands whenever possible. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll also be supporting a business that is working to make a difference.

Swap to beeswax – or vegan wraps

Beeswax wraps are an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap. They’re made of beeswax and cloth and can be used to wrap food, cover a bowl, or store produce. They’re reusable and can last for up to a year with proper care.

If you’re vegan, or if you’re allergic to beeswax, there are also vegan wax wraps available on the market. These are often made of plant-based waxes, like soy wax or coconut oil wax.

Make your own household cleaning products!

In addition to buying from sustainable brands, you can also make your own household cleaning products. This is a great way to reduce waste and avoid harmful chemicals.

There are a number of recipes available online for DIY cleaning products. For example, you can make an all-purpose cleaner by mixing one part vinegar with one part water. Or, you can make a window cleaner by mixing two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with one cup of water.

Use plastic-free shampoo and shower bars

As previously mentioned, many personal care products come in plastic bottles and contain harmful chemicals. But there are a number of sustainable alternatives available, like shampoo and shower bars.

Shampoo bars are a solid alternative to liquid shampoo. They’re made with natural ingredients and can last for up to 80 washes. Plus, they don’t require any packaging, so they’re completely zero waste.

RECYCLE: More than you think you can

There are a number of items that can be recycled, even if you don’t have access to a curbside recycling program. For example, many grocery stores have recycling programs for plastic bags and bottles. And, some cities have drop-off locations for electronics and plastic items.

You can also recycle certain items at home. For example, you can turn used cooking oil into biodiesel or use old newspapers to make paper pellets. Today, several new recycling trends have paved more ways to make your environmentally conscious journey easier than ever.

Think about whether you really need to buy something – even if it’s a gift

Related to what we mentioned previously with REDUCE, it’s important to think about whether you really need to buy something – even if it’s a gift. For example, do you really need that new gadget? Could you re-gift something you already have? Or, better yet, could you give someone an experience instead of a physical item?

Stop using single-use plastic tableware

Single-use plastic is one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution. And, a lot of that plastic comes in the form of tableware – like straws, plates, and cups.

If you’re hosting a party or event, make sure to use reusable tableware instead of disposable items. You can also encourage your guests to bring their own reusable cups and plates. Don’t go overboard with the tableware – only set out what you need.

Adopt the slow tech philosophy

In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest technology. But all that new technology comes at a cost – both to the environment and to your wallet.

Instead of constantly upgrading your devices, adopt the slow tech philosophy and make do with what you have. For example, you can use an old phone as a music player or buy a used laptop instead of a new one.

Focus on long-lasting and sustainable clothing

When it comes to fashion, quality is more important than quantity. Look for clothing that is well-made and will last you a long time. And, when you do need to buy new clothes, try to purchase items that are sustainably made.

There are a number of sustainable fashion brands available, many of which sell their products online. You can also find second-hand clothing at thrift stores or online consignment shops.

Reuse and Refill

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to reuse and refill containers. For example, you can use a Mason jar to store your food or buy shampoo in bulk and transfer it to a reusable bottle.

When you’re done using a product, make sure to recycle or compost the container. And, if you can’t reuse it yourself, see if someone else can.

Make homemade meals

Homemade meals are not only delicious, but they’re often healthier and cheaper than takeout or restaurant meals. Plus, they generate less waste.

meal from scratch, you can control the ingredients and avoid packaging waste. Apart from the occasional condiment, most of the ingredients you’ll need can be bought in bulk. As a plus, the health benefits of cooking at home are numerous.

Swap plastic toothbrushes for bamboo and compostable alternatives

Bamboo toothbrushes are a great eco-friendly alternative to plastic toothbrushes. They’re made with natural materials and can be composted after use.

There are also a number of toothbrush subscription services that will send you bamboo toothbrushes on a regular basis. This is a great way to reduce waste and save money in the long run. You can also find many sustainable toothbrush options online, like on!

Repair, Repair, and Repair Some More

Another great way to reduce waste is to repair items instead of throwing them away. For example, if your favorite pair of jeans get a hole in them, you can sew them up instead of buying a new pair.

You can also take broken electronics to a repair shop or look up tutorials online on how to fix them yourself. Not only will this save you money, but it will also help reduce e-waste. Sometimes, when something can no longer be used, you can recycle it into something else entirely.

Make compost piles

Composting is a great way to reduce food waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. The process of composting breaks down organic matter, like food scraps and yard waste, into a usable form.

To start composting, all you need is a small space in your yard and some kitchen scraps. You can also find compostable bags at most grocery stores. Once you have a compost pile going, you can add it to your garden beds or use it as mulch.

Avoid paper waste

Every year, billions of trees are cut down to make paper. And, unfortunately, much of that paper ends up in the trash.

You can help reduce this waste by avoiding wasting paper products whenever possible. For example, you can use a reusable water bottle or coffee mug instead of disposable cups. You can also ditch paper towels in favor of cloth towels. If you have to use paper, make sure it is recyclable or compostable.

Donate items you no longer need

Instead of throwing away items you no longer need or want, donate them to a local thrift store or charity. This is a great way to reduce waste and help those in need.

When donating items, make sure they are in good condition and clean. You can also sell items you no longer need online or at a garage sale.

Repurpose old fabric

Like clothing, the fabric can be reused or recycled into something new. If you have old fabric scraps, you can use them to make a quilt, pillow, or other craft projects.

You can also donate fabric scraps to a local sewing shop or charity. Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even make your own clothes!

Boycott Fast fashion

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Fast fashion, in particular, is a major contributor to environmental pollution.

Fast fashion refers to clothing that is produced quickly and cheaply in order to keep up with the latest trends. This often means that the quality of the clothing is poor, and it doesn’t last very long. As a result, people end up buying more clothes and generating more waste.

To reduce your impact on the environment, you can boycott fast fashion and buy second-hand clothes instead. You can also support sustainable fashion brands that use eco-friendly materials and practices. And, when you do buy new clothes, make sure to donate or recycle them when you’re done with them.

Watch out for Greenwashing

Greenwashing is when a company or product claims to be more environmentally friendly than it actually is.

For example, a company might claim that its products are “eco-friendly” when they are actually made with harmful chemicals. Or a product might be labelled as “biodegradable” when it will actually take hundreds of years to break down.

To avoid greenwashing, do your research before you buy anything. Make sure the claims a company or product is making are actually true. You can also look for eco-labels, like the USDA Organic label, which guarantees that a product is truly environmentally friendly.

Buy fewer (new) books

The publishing industry is surprisingly polluting. And, unfortunately, some books are printed on paper that is not recyclable.

To reduce your impact, you can buy fewer new books and borrow them from the library instead. You can also buy used books or donate your old ones to a local thrift store. If you do need to buy a new book, make sure it is printed on recycled paper.

Minimize personal care routines

I get it, you want to look good for your Zoom calls and whatnot. But all those personal care products come in packaging that has to go somewhere. And many of them contain harmful chemicals that can damage the environment.

To reduce your impact, try to minimize your personal care routines. For example, you can ditch makeup in favor of a natural look. You can also use less soap and shampoo and opt for eco-friendly options instead.

Dye your hair color with natural dyes

Whether you’re covering up grey hair or just want to try a new color, hair dye is a great way to change your look. But unfortunately, most hair dyes contain harmful substances that can damage the waterways when flushed.

To avoid this, you can dye your hair with natural dyes. There are a number of recipes you can find online for DIY hair dyes (proceed with caution!). However, we would recommend buying eco-friendly hair dyes from sustainable brands.


We all know how bad disposable coffee cups are for the environment. But, sometimes, you just need your daily dose of caffeine and don’t have time to sit in a café.

When you’re on the go, bring your own mug or thermos with you. This way, you can avoid using a disposable cups and help reduce pollution.

Pack lunch for work/school in reusable containers

Packing your own lunch is a great way to save money and reduce waste. But, if you’re using disposable plastic bags or containers, you’re not really doing much for the environment.

To avoid this, invest in reusable lunch boxes and containers. There are a lot of great options out there, from Bento boxes to mason jars.

So, where do I start?

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of this, don’t worry. You don’t have to make all these changes overnight. Just pick one or two things from the list and start there. Remember, every little bit helps!

Going zero waste is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. But it can be daunting, especially if you’re not sure where to start. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 30+ zero waste tips to help you get started on your own zero waste journey. From making your own toothpaste to refusing straws, we’ve got you covered!


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