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Most of the tips are pretty easy to put into practice. However, 90 might feel like a lot.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I will share with you the 10 best ones to start with.
Additionally, I made a checklist to help you track your progress. You can grab it at the end of the article.
Top 10 zero waste tips:
The easiest & impactful zero waste tips for beginners are –
- Get a reusable water bottle
- Use a reusable bag or a backpack
- Get produce veggie bags
- Buy in bulk in reusable containers
- Choose metal, glass, or paper packaging
- Eat seasonal, plant-based food
- Shop secondhand
- Compost food scraps
- Get shampoo & conditioner bars
- Ditch paper towels for reusable cloths
Now, let’s explore the rest of the zero waste tips. You can find them divided into 7 categories:
Personal & Wardrobe | Kitchen | Bathroom & Cleaning | Shopping & grocery | Social activities | Traveling | Other
Get a reusable mug for to-go beverages, like coffee, smoothies, or tea. (you can also use a jar from home)
2. Get reusable containers
Invest in a few reusable containers and use them for bulk shopping, ordering food from restaurants & leftovers, etc.
3. Pack 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!
4. Sustainable period
Look into reusable period products, such as cloth pads, menstrual underwear, or menstrual cup. A menstrual cup (like AllMatters menstrual cup) is my favorite option – it is super comfortable, hygienic & easy to use. Find the best menstrual cups for beginners and tips on how to insert & take them out.
5. Buy or make reusable cotton rounds
Instead of using single-use cotton rounds, purchase reusable cotton rounds or DIY! Find an easy tutorial by Shelbizleee:
6. Minimalize personal care routine
Try to figure out which are the essential products you need, and avoid purchasing new things that you don’t use/need daily.
7. Switch to zero waste personal products
You can find sustainable alternatives to almost anything – sunscreens, deodorants, face creams, oils, soaps, makeup, etc. Once you are done with personal care products in plastic packaging, start switching to eco-friendly & plastic-free alternatives.
There are many simple DIY things that you can try making at home – deodorant, tooth powder, mouthwash, dry shampoo, face masks, etc. So find a handful of things that seem manageable, and try making them!
9. Dye your hair color with natural dyes
If you dye your hair, avoid using strong chemicals. Instead, look for better and more natural alternatives, such as henna.
10. Donate or trade
Donate things you no longer use to your local second-hand market or find my list with 20 drop-off donating locations. For trading, there are a few websites that I found:
11. Watch out for greenwashing
Greenwashing is very common. That’s when a company claims to be environmentally friendly by hiding negative outcomes and highlighting just their positive side. Learn how to spot greenwashing here.
12. Learn more with zero waste books
To learn more and get motivated, read some of these zero waste books filled with excellent ideas.
13. Buy fewer (new) books
It’s better to visit your public library and borrow books from there. Also, look for a digital version of the books you want – either Kindle or Audiobook. If you want to own certain books, buy second-hand copies.
14. Recycle properly
Do you know that you can’t recycle containers that are contaminated with food or that most areas refuse to recycle receipts because of their toxic coating?
Recycling is a very gray area, and it can be annoying because each municipality has its regulations. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find how to recycle correctly. Do your best, and look up what are the rules where you live.
15. Sell your clothes online
If you want to declutter and downsize your wardrobe – you can make some money along the way. Go to one of these 23 second-hand clothing platforms, and sell your things.
16. Boycott fast-fashion
Fast fashion has devastating consequences for our planet. Try to avoid fast fashion brands as much as you can. If you want something – make sure you love the item, it is not an impulsive purchase, and you will often wear it.
17. Buy fewer clothes
Buy less, and focus on higher quality, durable clothes and shoes. Try to support ethical brands, and look for certifications like Organic and Fair Trade.
18. Avoid synthetic clothing
Most synthetic materials are often by-products of petroleum. As a result, they are non-biodegradable, and it takes a long time to decompose. Try to avoid clothes made from polyester, nylon, fleece, rayon, organza, taffeta, spandex, lycra, elastane, and acrylic.
19. Support ethical brands
For the times you need to buy new things, consider supporting ethical clothing brands. Find a list of affordable & sustainable clothing brands here.
20. Use a wax wrap
21. Say “No” to trash bags
Instead, find zero waste alternatives to trash bags. You can:
- Make and use a DIY reusable trash bag
- Line your bin with newspaper
- Use reusable bags for different materials
- Go bagless
22. Cook from scratch
Many pre-packed foods are pretty easy to make at home. For example, you can make homemade nut milk, sauces, hummus, spreads, bread, crackers, cookies, cupcakes, etc. This will help you to reduce A LOT of packaging.
23. Meal plan
A meal plan will help you to save money and to avoid food waste. If you are short on time, you can consider investing in a pressure cooker since it halves the cooking time, and you can cook huge baches. I have one, and I’m pleased with it.
24. Store your food properly
Globally, we create a lot of food waste – 1.3 billion tonnes early.
To reduce food waste at home, learn how to store your fruits and veggies properly.
An excellent video that I recently watched shared plenty of helpful tips. You can check it out:
25. Freeze food
This is another way to save food waste. For example, consider freezing overripe bananas and avocados, older bread, cooked legumes, etc.
Canning is another great way to preserve food. The shelf-life is up to a year, and it doesn’t require any refrigeration.
26. Reuse food scraps
There are plenty of ways to reuse things first before throwing them away. For example:
- Roast apple or potato peels for a crunchy snack.
- Use broccoli stems for baking, stir-fries, or raw in salads.
- Use leftover pickle juice to pickle other veggies quickly.
- Make a veggie broth by using onion peels, carrot peels, celery stems, etc.
- Use stale bread to make crunchy croutons for soups and salads. Use some of these tricks to return it to life:
27. 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.
You can start with:
- Meatless Mondays
- Weekday vegetarian
- Explore plant-based alternatives, like vegan burgers, yogurts, etc.
Find more about some of the most exceptional environmental benefits of reducing meat here.
28. Regrow veggies
Carrots, lettuce, basil, green onion, garlic, leek, and celery are some of the veggies you can regrow. Place any of these in a container and cover the roots with water.
Once they start growing, you can transfer some to a pot or your garden. Check this video with plenty of simple ideas to start:
29. Eat seasonally
Eating produce in season is tastier and better for the planet. In addition, fruits and veggies are often from your region, which lowers the carbon footprint from long-distance transportation.
30. Avoid single-use coffee capsules
Instead of buying capsules, make your coffee in a Moka pot, French press, Turkish style, or pour it over with a reusable filter.
31. Ditch the plastic sponges
32. Switch to dish soap bars
Get plastic-free block soap for dishes instead of the liquid soap in plastic bottles. You can also look for a local bulk store that offers bulk liquid detergent.
33. Get a reusable safety razor
34. Recycled or bamboo toilet paper
Get plastic-free 100% bamboo or recycled toilet paper individually wrapped in paper. If you can’t find it locally, check:
- Georgia-Pacific toilet paper
- Scott Essential – 100% recycled toilet paper
- A Good Company – Bamboo toilet paper
35. Get a bidet
A bidet can save you tons of toilet paper, and it is WAY more hygienic. There are a few options that are very affordable and easy to install. For example, you can get a bidet attachment like Tushy or a handheld bidet.
36. Get reusable q-tips
I’ve been using reusable bamboo q-tip for the past 3 years. After using it, I wash it with soap and water, dry it, and keep it in a small box. You can also get Last Swab reusable ear cleaner or single-use, plastic-free ones.
37. Use soap bars
Switch from liquid shampoos and soaps in plastic to solid shampoo and soap bars. You can find many plastic-free options made with a few simple ingredients. Check Ethique, HiBAR, or Plaine Products (in aluminum refillable bottles).
38. Zero waste oral routine
39. Make a DIY cleaner
It is SUPER easy – fill a jar with citrus peels. Then, fill the jar almost until the top, with white vinegar. Fill until the end with water. Keep in a dark place for at least 2-3 weeks. Then, strain the liquid and use it for most surfaces.
Furthermore, you can use baking soda as an abrasive scrubber or mix it with a bit of water as an all-purpose surface cleaner.
40. DIY laundry detergent or buy an eco-friendly one
Laundry detergents are commonly derived from petrochemicals and have synthetic fragrances. Check out environmentally-friendly Meliora, soap nuts, or DIY – Fairyland Cottage shares amazing 2-ingredient recipe here:
41. Dryline your clothes
Dryers are using a lot of energy, so by air-drying everything, you will save up energy. And money, too.
42. Use a microplastic filter
Every time you do your laundry, your clothes release hundreds of thousands of microfibers – a.k.a tiny plastics. They eventually end up in our waterways, then in our food, water, etc.
This microplastic filter is made from 100% recycled plastic, and it can catch these microfibers.
Shopping & Grocery:
43. Avoid unsustainable companies
Some products and companies are destroying our planet and creating tons of waste on the way. Support local small businesses and consider avoiding:
- fast fashion brands, like H&M, Zara, etc.
- giant corporations like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, etc.
- personal care products, cleaning products, and foods with palm oil
44. Email before ordering online
Before you order something online, write an email to the company to ask if they can ship the item you want plastic-free. I recommend doing that for “sustainable” companies, too, since they sometimes use plastic packaging.
45. Support local farmers & businesses
From clothing, food, coffee shops, etc. In that way, you can support the local economy and avoid plastic and emissions from transportation.
46. Write a list before you go grocery shopping
This will help you to buy just what you need & to save money.
47. If you forgot a reusable bag, ask for a box
Sometimes you might forget reusable bags. Luckily, you can still avoid a plastic bag by getting an empty box from the store.
Find more ideas on how to reduce plastic bags here.
48. Buy loose produce
Most supermarkets sell a lot of plastic-free fruits and veggies. Always choose the loose produce!
49. Get reusable veggie bags
It will be way easier to get your loose veggies and fruits in reusable produce bags. Most supermarkets sell reusable bags in their veggies & fruits section.
50. Get the single bananas
Often, the single bananas that are not in a bunch are thrown out because they are left out. Pick the single bananas, and save them from the trash!
51. Buy ugly veggies
Unfortunately, the “imperfect produce” often goes to waste first, even though the imperfections are just external. Embracing funny-looking & deformed fruits and veggies is a great way to reduce food waste.
52. Don’t buy single servings
If you can’t find something plastic-free, get the biggest size available, even if it’s plastic. This will reduce the overall waste.
53. Order plastic-free staples online
If you don’t have a bulk store, you can find online bulk shops that ship dried goods, usually in paper bags. You can reuse the paper bags afterward or compost them.
54. Visit local food markets
When traveling, visit local food markets to try foreign foods, which will often be package-free. In that way, you will also support small and local businesses.
55. Walk, bike, or use public transport
Biking is an excellent eco-friendly way to explore more of your travel destination for a shorter period. For far distances, use public transportation, instead of getting a taxi.
56. Stop short distance flying
Flying is convenient, but it is terrible for our planet. So, whenever possible, try to find an alternative way to travel, such as – car-sharing, a bus, or a train.
57. Pack your food for air travel
Airplane food is not the best, and it mostly comes in single-use packaging. So it is best to prepare some delicious food in reusable containers or to get some plastic-free snacks.
58. 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.
59. Carbon offsets/Support environmental projects
You can “offset” your carbon emissions from flying with an airplane. The idea is to support sustainable projects or organizations planting trees, funding alternative energy sources, etc.
To learn more about carbon offsets, watch this informative & short video by Our Changing Climate:
60. Don’t buy plastic bottles when traveling with an airplane
Usually, many international airports have free water dispensers, where you can refill your reusable water bottle. If you are traveling to a location with poor water quality, get yourself a purifying water bottle such as GRAYL or Brita.
If you’re looking for a specific item you need a few times, borrow it instead of buying it. For example, I needed ski gear, so since I am skiing rarely, I borrowed the ski pants from a friend, the rest from a ski rental shop.
62. Take additional reusables
63. Give experience gifts
Instead of giving materialistic gifts to your friends and family, consider surprising them with experiences! For some inspiration, find 36 experience gifts, under $30, $50, and $100.
64. 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 you can even bring your reusable ones, just in case.
65. Reduce takeout
Ordering food means a lot of single-use plastic. To reduce plastic waste, try to find a place that uses paper containers. If you can, write a note to your order and ask for plastic-free delivery. Also, say that you don’t need any plastic cutleries or tissues.
66. DIY gift wraps
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:
67. Find like-minded people
Connect (online or offline) with other people who share the same goals. This can be very motivating; you can share tips, struggles, and experiences with each other.
68. 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!
69. Stop buying balloons
Or similar pointless items. Ballons often find their way to open water and harm marine animals. Plus, they are polluting the Earth. Find my favorite eco-friendly alternatives to balloons here.
70. Avoid receipts
71. Use Ecosia
An incredible search engine, which supports the planting of trees around the world! If it sounds too good to be true, learn more about how it works.
72. Buy less new electronics
E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream. For 2019, worldwide, we generated 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste.
Second-hand items have already been produced and are in circulation. Shopping second-hand saves resources & items going to landfills and reduces the demand for new things.
Consider buying gently-used things like bikes, smartphones, laptops, TVs, etc. This tip will save you a lot of money, too.
73. Reduce your paper usage
Paper production creates a lot of waste; it causes deforestation, air pollution and uses enormous amounts of energy & water. What’s worse, we treat many paper items as single-use items. A few paper-saving tips include:
- Pay your bills online
- Use digital tickets and passes
- Avoid paper bags
- Avoid unnecessary printing
- Try to stop junk mail
- Use the back of the envelope/scrap paper to write lists
- Choose paper items made with recycled materials
74. Minimize purchases
Be more mindful when buying things, and reduce impulsive shopping, food, clothes, and anything in between.
75. One in one out rule
A fantastic 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.
76. Repurpose, reuse, and repair things
Find creative ways to repurpose, reuse, and repair (almost) everything! Instead of tossing older or broken things, find ways to fix them & extend their life! There are so many things you can do with old stuff; the list is endless! For example:
- Reuse and upcycle various food/drink containers
- Turn old sheets and towels into cleaning cloths, or produce bags
- Upcycle current furniture, save window hardware and screens, repurpose carpeting, etc. when renovating your home
- Upcycle old shirts into cute tops, long old jeans into shorts, etc. Find simple ideas on how to transform your clothes from Haley’s Corner:
77. Refuse freebies
Refuse free promotional items – most times, we don’t need these things, and they are often cheap stuff that breaks quickly.
78. Dog poo bags
There are pretty cool compostable poo bags, in case you have a doggo. You can purchase affordable ones like these or simply use a newspaper.
79. Switch to LED lighting
LED bulbs use roughly 15 times less electricity than halogen lighting. As a result, they are one of the most energy-efficient forms of light.
80. 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.
The 90 zero waste tips checklist:
The checklist will help you keep track of your progress. Download it and mark the zero waste tips you are already doing. Then, 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.
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If you have questions about the checklist, or any of the tips, drop a comment below, or feel free to join the Almost Zero Waste Facebook group!