The Beginner’s Guide to Zero Waste
One question I get asked quite often, is how do I get started with a zero waste lifestyle? I’ve whipped up a simple beginner’s guide to zero waste to help those feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. From mason jars to bamboo toothbrushes, I’ve got the basics of zero waste covered for you right here. I’ve included links to zero waste articles and products you might need in your journey throughout the steps! 🙂
5 Things You Can Do Right Now Towards Zero Waste
Say No to Plastic Water Bottles
Instead of using a disposable plastic water bottle, choose to reuse! Head over to your local thrift store to find a reusable water bottle. There are so many different styles you can choose from. I like to carry my stainless steel water bottle or sometimes just a simple mason jar can do the trick.
Bring Your Own Coffee Mug
Did you know that disposable coffee cups are not recyclable?! They appear to be made of paper, but actually have a thin plastic lining inside making it hard to recycle. Instead, bring your own coffee travel mug when you need caffeine on the go! Another option is to slow things down and enjoy your coffee in house.
Say No to Plastic Single Use Drinking Straws
When you’re out at a restaurant, take a zero waste baby step by saying no thank you to the single use plastic straw. You could drink your drink without a straw or if you need a straw, consider switching to a plastic-free reusable alternative, like metal. There are quite a few single use straw alternatives. Check out this list of 8 alternatives to plastic straws!
Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
Don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bags when you go to the grocery store! My grocery shopping bags are a mix and match of bags I’ve purchased over the years. I like canvas totes, because they are sturdy and can hold quite a lot of groceries in a single bag. If you forget your reusable bags, opt for paper bags that you can reuse, compost, or recycle.
Eliminate Paper Towels, Choose to Reuse Dish Towels Instead
I thought eliminating paper towels from our household was going to be a lot harder than it was. We keep a drawer full of dish towels that we use in place of paper towels now. It’s been actually a super easy zero waste swap! Have you heard of unpaper towels before??
Ok, you’ve got the basics. If you’re ready to dive further into zero waste, here are some more simple steps towards zero waste.
Switch to using a Bamboo Toothbrush instead of plastic toothbrushes
These bamboo toothbrushes have a compostable handle and the bristles are recyclable. Also, all of the packaging for this brush is either compostable or recyclable as well. How cool is that!!Start carrying your own Produce Bags at the grocery store to eliminate single use plastic produce bags
I bring my own set of mesh produce bags for things like mushrooms and green beans. However, other produce I just throw straight into the buggy. I plan to wash them at home anyway before eating so I don’t mind them rolling around in my cart. I like these produce bags in particular, because their transparency makes it easy for the cashier to identify what’s in the bag. They are also super lightweight which is great since often times you’re using these bags to carry produce that costs by weight.
Use Soap Bars & Shampoo Bars instead of plastic bottled liquid soap
I’m not sure when we decided that we needed to wash with body wash in a plastic bottle, because regular ole bar soap works so well!! I’ve become quite the soap bar addict these days, always hunting for new small batch soap makers to support. Checking out your local farmers market is a good place to find handmade soaps, or you can always find organic, vegan, palm oil free soaps in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow shop!
Did you know you can wash your hair with a bar of soap too? Learn how to use shampoo bars on my blog!
Use a Handkerchief rather than disposable tissues
Your grandpa had it right along; handkerchiefs are the way to go! I know it seems a little gross to carry around your boogers in a cloth in your pocket, but not if you use a Hankybook! They’re these little organic cotton handkerchief booklets. You use a page and flip until you’ve used up the entire booklet, then throw it in the washing machine. It’s genius! Plus, handkerchiefs are so much softer on the nose. You’ve got to try it out.
Use Compostable Loofahs instead of sponges in the kitchen
Using a new yellow sponge every couple of months in the kitchen can be wasteful. Instead, try using a loofah kitchen scrubber to clean your dishes. They’re great for scrubbing with the added zero waste bonus of being 100% compostable. I use mine for a
couple of months, then I chop it into small pieces, and throw it into my compost tumbler. Easy peasy!
Are you ready to be a hardcore Zero Waster?! Let’s do this!
Start shopping the bulk bins at your grocery store using Reusable Bulk Bags and mason jars
I realize this isn’t an option for everyone, because not all towns have a bulk foods section. However, if you do a little hunting sometimes you can find bulk shopping in the most unexpected of places. For example, I found a bulk dog treat section at my local pet shop. Rather than using the disposable film plastic bags there, I brought my own organic cotton bulk bag!
Use a Safety Razor & Shave Soap Bar instead of disposable plastic razors and shaving foam
Don’t be scared! Safety razors can be intimidating but I promise you will get a way better shave with one and how nice that you can eliminate those pesky plastic disposable razors. Also, a safety razor is one of those ‘buy me once’ type of products. I plan to still be using this same metal razor 20 years from now. You can learn more about zero waste shaving on the blog!
For the ladies, switch to Reusable Menstrual Products
Shop Secondhand, instead of purchasing new
Thrift shops, antique stores, and estate sales are great for shopping secondhand. I’ve been able to find reusable water bottles and plastic free kitchen supplies secondhand in my town. I also scored some really great secondhand cloth diapers for my little one from a friend. Always shop secondhand first if you can!
Begin Composting at your house (My all time fave zero waste switch!)
I LOVE composting! It’s fascinating to me that something that would’ve normally been thrown in the trash can be repurposed into something so useful: nutrient rich soil. If you have the space, consider building a compost pile or investing in a composter tumbler. I haven’t tried it myself but some zero wasters prefer vermicomposting, which is composting with the help of earth worms. They break down the compost faster.