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Going zero waste? Then these 109 zero waste tips will give you plenty of simple ideas to start!
I collected a bunch of zero waste tips to help you kick-start your journey!
I divided the ideas into a few sections, so you can easily find specific things. The categories are:
- Zero Waste Tips: Kitchen
- Zero Waste Tips: Bathroom
- Zero Waste Tips: Cleaning & Laundry
- Zero Waste Tips: Personal changes
- Zero Waste Tips: Shopping & Grocery
- Zero Waste Tips: Travelling
- Zero Waste Tips: Social activities
- Zero Waste Tips: Other ideas
Additionally, I prepared a checklist to help you track your progress.
You can grab it at the end of this article.
Before we start, bear in mind that –
Going zero waste takes time, so don’t feel overwhelmed by all of this information.
These tips are not only about solid waste. Some of them focus on how to live more sustainably, in general.
OKAY, now, let’s begin!
Zero Waste Tips: Kitchen
1. No more paper towels (switch to reusable cloth)
Instead of using single-use paper towels, start using reusable cloth towels. Once they are dirty, wash them, and continue using them!
2. Learn how to store your food properly
Carrot, celery, and asparagus can be kept in water to keep them crisp
Keep tomatoes out of the fridge
Nuts and seeds will last longer when kept in the fridge
Store lettuce in a bowl, with a paper towel on top
A cool video that I recently watched shared plenty of useful tips. You can check it out:
3. Freeze food
Learn how to freeze your food, so it doesn’t go to waste. You can freeze overripe bananas, avocados, bread, and other foods like peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, etc. Just blanch them in hot water before that.
4. Save your food scraps
That’s right! You can keep them in a bowl in your freezer. Once you have enough, place them in a pot with some water, and cook on low heat for a few hours.
Then, you will have an amazing homemade broth for soups and other dishes!
Composting is a great way to reduce methane emissions from landfills and to make nutrient-rich soil from food waste. Find 7 step-by-step guides to compost, even in a small apartment.
6. Regrow veggies
Carrots, lettuce, basil, green onion, garlic, leek, celery – just some of the veggies that you can regrow! For most, you just need water, which is just incredible.
Place any of these in a container and cover the roots with water. Once they start growing, you can transfer some in a pot or your garden.
7. Use a wax wrap
8. Say “No” to trash bags
Instead, find zero waste alternatives to trash bags. You can:
line your bin with a DIY reusable trash bag
line your bin with newspaper
use a reusable bag
line your container with what you already have
9. Make foods from scratch
Some foods that are usually pre-packed in the shops are quite easy to make. For example, you can learn how to make nut milk, pasta sauces, hummus, energy bars, spreads, bread, crackers, biscuits, etc. This will help you to reduce A LOT of packaging.
10. Meal plan
This will help you to save money and to avoid food waste.
11. Don’t throw old bread
Turn stale bread into crunchy breadcrumbs and croutons for salads and soups! Or simply use some of these tricks to return it back to life:
12. Eat more plants & fewer animal products
Animal agriculture is a well-known industry, with a negative impact on the environment. Reducing doesn’t mean going fully vegan. Just try to be more mindful of your animal product consumption. Start with Meatless Mondays, or try to be a weekday vegetarian.
13. Eat seasonally
Eating produce in season is tastier, and better for the planet. Fruits and veggies are often from your region, which lowers down on the carbon footprint from long-distance transportation.
14. Drink tap water instead of water in plastic bottles
15. Stop buying single-use coffee capsules
Make your coffee in a French press, Turkish style, or pour over with a reusable filter, instead of buying capsules.
16. Ditch the plastic sponges for dishes
Clean your dishes with compostable sponges or brushes. (link to EarthHero)
17. Switch to dish soap bars instead of liquid
Get plastic-free block soap for dishes, instead of the liquid soap in plastic bottles. It is best to look for a local brand that is palm-oil free and cruelty-free. If you have a place where to buy in bulk liquid detergent, then that’s an option, too.
18. Try plant-based burgers and meat alternatives
Animal agriculture uses vast amounts of land, water, and energy, plus it’s a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Again, you don’t have to go fully vegan. Just give a chance to plant-based burgers and meat alternatives.
Zero Waste Tips: Bathroom
19. Get a reusable safety razor
20. Recycled or bamboo toilet paper
Get 100% bamboo or recycled & unbleached toilet paper, that is individually wrapped in paper, and not plastic. If you can’t find locally, check:
- Georgia-Pacific Toilet Paper
- Who Gives A Crap (UK, US, AU)
- Scott Essential Professional Bulk Toilet Paper
21. Get a reusable q-tips
Yes – there is such thing as reusable q-tips, from bamboo, or metal. If that’s too much for you, get plastic-free ones.
22. Use soap bars
Switch hand soap, shampoos & conditioners in plastic bottles with soap bars! You can find soap bars for your body and hair that is in carton boxes, without nasty ingredients, like palm oil. Check Ethique, HiBAR, or Plaine Products (in aluminum refillable bottles).
23. Zero waste oral routine
24. Reduce your personal care products
Simply use fewer things, and don’t buy more and more new products, just to try it, or just because they were on sale.
25. Preserve water
Take shorter showers
Get an efficient showerhead
If you can, place a bucket in the shower and then water your plants (or flush the toilet!) 💩
Collect the water when rinsing vegetables and use it for your plants
Zero Waste Tips: Cleaning & Laundry
26. Make simple DIY cleaner
Use citrus peels, such as lemon, grapefruit, or orange, and vinegar. In a jar, place until halfway the peels. Then, fill the jar (almost until the top) with vinegar and then fill it up with a bit of water.
Keep in a dark place, and let it sit for at least 2-3 weeks. Then, strain the liquid and use it for most surfaces.
27. DIY laundry detergent or buy eco-friendly one
Laundry detergents are commonly derived from petrochemicals and have synthetic fragrances. They can cause skin irritation, and they decompose slowly, which can be toxic to marine life.
28. Use baking soda as an all-purpose cleaner
You can use baking soda to remove rust, clean toilets, ovens, etc. You can use it as an abrasive scrubber, or in mixture with a bit of water, as an all-purpose light cleaner, great for greasy surfaces.
29. Dryline your clothes
Dryline your clothes, instead of using an electric-powered dryer.
30. Wash in cold water
If you don’t want to kill germs on 90 degrees, save energy by washing your clothes in colder water.
Zero Waste Tips: Personal changes
31. Figure out your trash
This will help you to see what are the products that create the most waste. You can write a list in a notebook. Then, you can start looking for sustainable alternatives.
32. Boycott fast-fashion
Fast fashion has devastating consequences for our planet. Try to avoid fast-fashion brands as much as you can. If you really want something – make sure you love this item, it is not an impulsive purchase, and you will wear the piece hundreds of times.
33. Sustainable period
Look into reusable period products, such as cloth pads or menstrual underwear. My recommendation is a menstrual cup – they are super comfortable, hygienic, and EASY to use. You just need a bit of time to find your way of inserting & taking it out. If you are not ready, try some of the other alternatives.
34. Dye your hair color with natural dyes
Avoid using strong chemicals, and look for better and more natural alternatives, such as henna.
35. Use digital tickets
This can be applied for a lot of things – theater, cinema, concerts, airline tickets.
Get a reusable mug wherever you go for to-go beverages, like coffee, smoothies, or tea. (or just reuse a jar from home!)
37. Sell your clothes online
If you have a full wardrobe and you want to declutter and downsize – you can make some money along the way.
Find Depop, or other second-hand clothing platforms, and sell your things.
38. Buy or make reusable rounds
Instead of using single-use cotton rounds, purchase reusable rounds, or DIY! Find an easy tutorial by Shelbizleee:
39. Buy fewer clothes
Buy less, and focus on higher quality, durable clothes, and shoes. Try to support ethical brands. Look for certifications like Organic and Fair Trade.
40. Avoid synthetic clothing
Avoid clothes that are made from polyester, nylon, fleece, rayon, organza, taffeta, spandex, lycra, elastane, and acrylic.
These microfibers reach to our oceans, and they are in many marine environments, in large quantities.
Most synthetic materials are often by-products of petroleum. They are non-biodegradable, and it takes a long time to decompose.
41. Use what you already have
It can be from a shampoo bottle to a pack of tissues. You already bought them, so at least use them. Don’t throw away something just because it’s plastic!
Once you are done with the stuff, start looking for getting some reusable, plastic-free, long-lasting products. If you don’t want to use certain things anymore, donate them, or give them to someone who might need them.
42. Buy ethical & plastic-free personal products
Nowadays, you can find plastic-free and sustainable versions of ANYTHING – sunscreens, deodorants, face creams, cleansers and oils, soaps, makeup – the list can go on and on.
Look locally or purchase things online. Find 46 zero waste online shops across the world.
43. DIY beauty scrubs and masks
There are plenty of simple and practical DIY recipes. Some of them are:
coffee grains as body & face scrub
sugar scrub for face
bentonite clay mask
44. Watch out for greenwashing
When just starting to reduce your waste, it’s possible to be tricked by greenwashing products and businesses.
That’s when a company claims to be environmentally friendly by hiding negative outcomes, showing only selected information, and highlighting just the good side of the story. You can avoid it by doing your research. Find out how to spot greenwashing (examples).
45. Get inspired and learn from experienced zero waste advocates
Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic zero waste, plastic-free & sustainability books that can motivate you and provide you with excellent ideas you never thought about!
You can find my list with 17 zero-waste books. You can enjoy some of them for free (with Audible trial).
46. Stop buying every book you want
It’s better to visit your public library and borrow books from there. Also, look for a digital version of the book you want – either Kindle version or Audiobook. If you want to own certain books, buy second-hand copies.
47. Avoid the 15 most polluting items (+ get zero waste swaps)
Some things pollute more than others. Find out the 15 worst polluters of our planet, and consider getting some of their zero-waste alternatives.
48. Recycle properly
Usually, we can’t recycle containers that are contaminated with food. Most areas refuse to recycle receipts because of their toxic coating.
These are just two examples. The truth is that recycling is annoying. There are so many rules and things we don’t know. That’s why find out the regulations in your local area and recycle properly.
49. Pack your lunch for work/school
By doing that, you will save money from buying quick to-go meals, reduce single-use (plastic) waste, and eat healthier!
Zero Waste Tips: Shopping & Grocery
50. Buy second hand
There are plenty of options when it comes to shopping second hand online. Find a list with 16 awesome online thrift stores.
51. In case you need something new, support ethical brands
No one wants second-hand underwear, I suppose? 🙂 That’s why you can buy new things for similar clothing items, or specific things that you are looking for. You can check a list of sustainable & affordable clothing brands here.
52. Before you order something online, write an email to the company
In that way, you can ask them to avoid any plastic packaging and to reuse materials that they already have.
53. Support your local farmers
Buy fruits and veggies from your local farmers. In that way, you can support the local economy and avoid plastic-wrapped fresh food.
54. Write a list, before you go grocery shopping
This will help you to buy just what you need & to save money.
55. Use the back of envelope/scrap paper to write lists
Use various things before throwing them away.
56. Always have a reusable bag with you
That will save up a lot of plastic bags in the long run. Always carry one, and even if you shop for clothing, refuse the bag they offer you (even if it’s paper).
57. Ask the cashier for a box, if you forget your reusable bags
Sometimes you might forget reusable your bags. Don’t panic! Just kindly ask some of the workers in the shop for an empty box, that they don’t need.
58. Buy loose produce
Most supermarkets have two versions of the same fresh produce – one of them wrapped in plastic, and the other one loose. Always choose the loose produce!
If you can’t find something plastic-free, you may get something else, that’s without any packaging.
59. Get reusable cotton produce bags
It will be way easier to get your loose veggies and fruits in reusable produce bags.
60. Get the single bananas
Often, the single bananas that are not in a bunch are thrown out by grocers. So, pick up the single ones and save them from the trash!
61. Buy ugly veggies
Embracing funny-looking & deformed fruits and veggies is a great way to reduce food waste. Most times, the “imperfect produce” goes to waste first. But the imperfections are just external.
62. Choose metal, glass, or cardboard over plastic packaging
The first two options can be recycled endlessly. Paper can be recycled just a few times. So, choose metal or glass first, then paper.
63. Don’t buy single servings
In case you need something, and you can’t find it plastic-free, don’t beat yourself up. Just don’t get a few small packages from the specific item. Instead, get the biggest size available, since it will reduce the overall waste.
64. See if you have a bulk store nearby
You can check this FREE bulk finder, and see if something nearby appears!
65. Bring reusable containers
When you go bulk shopping, remember to bring extra jars, textile bags, etc., for your purchases.
66. Order plastic-free staples online
In case you don’t have a bulk store, you can find online bulk shops that ship dried goods, usually in paper bags.
*Reuse the paper bags afterward.
67. Avoid products with palm oil
The palm oil industry has terrible consequences for our planet (if you wonder how read more here). It is an unsustainable business that causes deforestation and animal degradation. It is best if you try to support “palm-oil free” products.
Zero Waste Tips: Travelling
68. When traveling, visit local food markets
In that way, you can try foreign foods, which will often be package-free. In that way, you will also support small and local businesses.
69. Walk or ride (rent) a bike whenever possible
Biking is an excellent eco-friendly way to explore more of your travel destination for a shorter period.
70. Use public transportation
Instead of getting a taxi, use public transportation.
71. Stop short distance flying
Instead, use car-sharing, a bus, or a train.
72. Pack your food for air travel
Airplane food is not the best, and what’s worse – it mostly comes in single-use packaging. Do yourself a favor, and prepare some delicious food in reusable containers. Cut up some fruits & veggies for a snack.
73. Choose direct flights & pack lightly
If you travel somewhere far, try to find a direct flight. A plane’s takeoff and landing contribute to about 25% of a flight’s total emissions.
74. Carbon offsets/Support local environmental projects
If you want to “offset” your carbon emissions from flying with an airplane, you have two alternatives:
Donate money to a well-known (local) environmental organization
Purchase “carbon offsets.”
The idea behind is that the money you pay is supporting sustainable projects, saving or planting trees, funding alternative energy sources, etc. Just choose a well-known organization, and don’t trust unknown shady “carbon offset” websites.
If you are not sure what carbon offsets are, or if it’s worth it, feel free to watch a short video that explains it all. It is made by Our Changing Climate:
75. Take a reusable bottle with you
And refill it over and over again. Many international airports have free water dispensers, which saves you money and wasting plastic bottles.
If you’re looking for a specific item that you need a few times, borrow it instead of buying it. For example, I needed ski gear, so since I am skiing VERY rarely, I borrowed the ski pants from a friend, the rest from a ski rental shop.
77. Take other reusables
Whenever you go, always have a reusable water bottle with you, and a reusable container for food. This will lower your waste on your trip tremendously. You may want to take utensils, reusable straw, and handkerchief (I never know how to pronounce this word correctly).
Zero Waste Tips: Social activities
78. Give experience gifts
Instead of giving materialistic gifts, and THINGS to your friends, and family, consider surprising them with experiences! For some inspiration, find 36 experience gifts, under $30, $50, and $100.
79. Avoid single-use items on social activities
If you are at a party, or a birthday, ask the host to give you reusables, instead of disposable items. Or even better – stay on the safe side and bring your own.
80. Bring additional reusables
If you are meeting with someone, be extra prepared, and get a second pair of reusables. That can be cutlery, reusable straw, a jar (for drinks). In that way, if you go to eat/drink something, you can give your friend reusables.
81. Reduce takeout
It is often accompanied by single-use napkins, plastic packages of sauce, plastic cutlery, and so on. If you want to order online, make sure you find a place where they use just paper containers.
Additionally, write a note that you don’t want any napkins, sauce in plastic packaging, or single-use cutlery. Or order a pizza. The packaging is paper. Remember to COMPOST the greasy parts and recycle the clean parts.
82. DIY gift wraps
Make handmade gifts instead of getting conventional gift wrapping paper from the shop, which is always ripped off and chucked in the trash within seconds.
Get creative and find unusual ways to wrap a gift without creating any additional waste. Check how to make a simple Japanese gift wrapping by Pointful Things:
83. Find like-minded people
Connect (online or offline) with other people, who share the same goals, and aim to reduce their waste. This can be motivating, and you can share tips.
84. Pick-up trash
Organize a local garbage pick-up. Or do it with a few of your friends in an area that needs a bit of cleaning!
85. Stop buying balloons
Or similar pointless items. Ballons often find their way to open water and can harm or kill turtles, whales, and other marine animals. Plus, they are polluting the Earth.
Zero Waste Tips: Other ideas
86. Save your next glass jar, metal thin and cardboard box
Find creative ways to reuse for storing food, growing herbs, making candles, sprouting seeds, using it as a vase, or for craft projects.
87. If you can, avoid receipts
Most receipts can’t be recycled because of the coating on them, which often is BPA (Bisphenol A), which is known for its endocrine disturbing properties. This chemical can be absorbed through our skin, just by touching it. Yaiks!
88. Avoid junk mail
Opt-out of paper mailers – cancel phone directories, sign up for paperless billing, etc. Additionally, you can put a sign on your mailbox that you don’t want any paper spam.
89. Use Ecosia
This is a fantastic search engine, like Google, but with one huge difference – when you use Ecosia, you support the planting of trees around the world! It may sound too good to be true, but if you want to learn more about how does it work, read here.
90. Buy second-hand or refurbished electronics
It is sustainable because e-waste is currently one of the fastest-growing waste streams. Consider buying gently-used items like bikes, smartphones, laptops, stereos, TVs, etc. This tip will save you a lot of money, too.
91. Avoid unnecessary printing
Whenever possible, use electronic format, instead of printing. If you have to print something, make sure to print on both sides of the paper.
92. Repair things
Instead of tossing worn-in shoes, clothing, or electronics, try to find a way and fix the broken things first.
93. Unplug electronics
When you are not using something, unplug it, if possible. Even if an electronic device is not working, it still uses a bit of energy.
94. Conserve energy
Some ideas include:
When you’re not in a room, turn the light off.
When your phone is charged, unplug the charger from the plug.
If the heating/air conditioner is working, make sure that the windows are closed.
Don’t boil a full kettle, if you’re not planning on using all the water.
Put a lid on pots and pans when cooking to conserve energy.
95. Avoid supporting unsustainable businesses
The large companies and fast-food restaurants are big polluters, and they often use unsustainable practices. Support local small places, such as coffee shops, local beer, and other local brands.
96. Reinvent glass jars
You can reuse them in millions of ways. You can keep your leftovers, to DIY face masks, or creams in jars, for coffee-to-go, which will help you to avoid plastic coffee cups, to keep your toothbrush there, etc. For more ideas, check here.
Donate things that you don’t use anymore, such as clothes, shoes, and other items to your local second-hand market. Make sure they are in good condition.
98. Downsize & minimize purchases in general
Try to reduce impulsive shopping, food, clothes, and anything in between. Be more mindful when you are buying things, and try to adopt more of a “minimalist” approach.
99. One in one out rule
Another minimalist policy that will help you to keep clutter under control.
The idea is that every time a new item comes into your home, a similar item must leave.
100. Pay your bills online
Sign up for paperless billing.
101. Repurpose things
Turn old sheets and towels into cleaning cloths, handkerchiefs, or fabric produce bags. Upcycle old or loose shirts, into cute tops, long old jeans into shorts, etc. Find some simple ideas from Haley’s Corner:
102. Refuse freebies
Say no to things, like free promotional items. Most times, we don’t need these freebies, and they are often cheap things that break quickly.
103. Dog poo bags
There are pretty cool compostable poo bags, in case you have a doggo. You can purchase some like these, or simply use a newspaper.
104. Switch to LED lighting
LED bulbs use roughly 15 times less electricity than halogen lighting. They are one of the most energy-efficient forms of light.
105. Support local businesses
From clothing, food, coffee shops, etc. Think globally, act locally.
106. Waste “wisely”
As a beginner, you will produce some waste. I’ve been living this lifestyle for some time, and I still produce trash.
The point is to try to be mindful about it and to waste “wisely”. Try to do as much as you can, and even if sometimes you ”fail,” don’t be too harsh on yourself.
107. Rethink what you truly need
Before making an unthoughtful purchase, try to stop yourself before it’s too late. Set a week or at least a few days before you buy the thing.
You may realize that you can live without this product, or you have an alternative at home.
108. Rechargeable batteries over disposable
Anything that has a reusable alternative over single-use is worth looking into. If you tend to use batteries for various things, consider getting rechargeable ones.
109. Avoid paper bags at groceries stores or other single-use paper items
You may think that paper is an eco-friendly option, but it’s not the best at all. A plastic bag causes fewer greenhouse emissions than a paper one. I don’t mean that getting a plastic bag is better, but simply that paper bags are not as environment-friendly as they are perceived.
The best thing that you can do is it you end up with a paper bag, try to pick one that’s recycled, and don’t treat is as a single-use item. Try to reuse it, and consider lowering the amount of paper bags you use.
Grab the zero waste checklist below!
The checklist includes all of the tips above, so it will help you to keep track of your progress!
Just download it and mark the zero waste tips you are already doing. You can see what’s left and work on it!
You can use the checklist directly on the computer (it’s interactive!), or if you have some old paper, you can print it out.
By writing your email below, you will get the checklist, and you will also subscribe to my newsletter!