“Every little bit helps and with a few small changes in your day to day life, you’ll be living zero waste and reducing your impact on the environment in no time”
It’s always great to have a handy reference guide when starting out as a new zero waster so I thought I would put together a bunch of quick tips. But even a seasoned zero waster can benefit from these tips too!
Since going zero waste I have found that not only am I helping the environment by lowering my personal impact but I am also helping my health. Since they come in nasty packaging, I now eat less processed foods and drink less soft drinks and juices. Commercial body care products like shampoos, conditioners and moisturisers not only come in packaging but also contain A LOT of toxic chemicals. I now make my own all-natural products and store them in reusable containers.
Since giving up these destructive products, I have not fallen sick and I always feel great and I really believe it’s because I no longer apply chemicals to my skin and having greatly reduced the bad stuff in my diet. I honestly can’t remember the last time I took an ibuprofen or any kind of pain reliever. In fact, I don’t even carry them with me when I travel anymore as I’m confident my new lifestyle benefits my health immensely.
It just goes to show that the zero waste lifestyle is beneficial in more ways than one!
Zero Waste 101
Let’s get started –
1. Ditch the single-use plastic bottle for a reusable one.
2. Carry your own reusable takeaway coffee or tea cup.
3. Say no to plastic bags in any shops by providing your own reusable shopping bags.
4. Replace plastic fresh produce bags with reusable ones you’ve purchased or hand-made.
5. Carry a reusable takeaway container with you when going out for a meal to put any leftovers in.
6. Leave reusable cutlery in your day bag. Very light weight ones can be purchased at your local camping store.
7. If you like to use straws then easily swap them out with a reusable stainless steel straw.
8. Start using a handkerchief instead of tissues or serviettes
9. Make your own handy ‘Zero Waste Toolkit’ and keep it in your day bag or your car.
10. Start buying as much as you can in bulk; food, toiletries, cleaning products etc.
11. Store your bulk goods in glass or aluminium containers.
12. Shop at local farmer’s markets and get to know your local producers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their farming practices. Shopping local helps the community and the economy as well as your health.
13. Use washable cloths or rags to clean your house and your dishes instead of disposable sponges.
14. Make those washable cloths or rags out of old towels or t-shirts you no longer use.
15. Use the same method to make wash cloths for your face and in place of commercial brand make-up removers.
16. Swap out your regular body wash with a natural bar of soap that will wash your face, body and even your hair.
17. Replace your plastic toothbrush with a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush.
18. Trade off your plastic razor with a metal safety razor or straight blade.
19. Start using biodegradable (and preferably organic) bamboo cotton buds to fix your make-up or clean your ears.
20. Reduce packaging by combining several products in one – coconut oil can condition your hair, moisturise your body, remove make-up and it can be stored in a reusable container.
21. Girls, get yourself a menstrual cup and/or resuable sanitary pads and ditch tampons and pads for good.
22. If you like reading, get a library card and start hiring books instead of buying them new.
23. Shop for clothing and other items in thrift stores to reuse, recycle and upcycle instead of buying new.
24. Repair any faulty items of clothing you may have instead of throwing them out.
25. Always give your unwanted posessions, clothing, cookware, books etc to the goodwill or see if your friends and family will want them.
26. Repair faulty electronics instead of just replacing them.
27. Replace your old energy consuming light bulbs with LED’s. They are more expensive to buy but they will last so much longer and will greatly reduce energy usage and emissions.
28. Reduce your paper waste by saying no to junk mail and switching to paperless billing.
29. Say no to receipts. They should not be put in the recycling bin as they are coated with toxic BPA and contaminate the newly made paper as well as your body.
30. Start making your own cosmetics, toiletries, cleaning products and just about anything you need. It’s completely possible to do this zero waste by buying ingredients in bulk.
31. Don’t be afraid to pick up litter when you see it. Who cares if you look a little silly, it’s better than it ending up in waterways.
32. Wherever possible, stop using your car and walk or cycle instead, the environment and your waistline will thank you.
33. Take shorter showers and turn the water off whilst brushing your teeth.
34. Don’t let the water run when you are washing dishes.
35. Use bulk purchased coffee and a french press to make a cuppa at home.
36. Replace tea bags (some contain toxic plastic as well!) with a tea infusor. Loose tea always tastes better and you don’t need as much.
37. Make your own wrapping paper from upcycled newspaper or cloth and use a flower from your garden to decorate your gifts.
38. Wear your clothes more and wash them less. You can wear an item of clothing a few times before you have to wash it. It’s actually bad for your clothes and wastes water.
39. Use a natural, biodegradable product to wash your clothes instead of a store bought detergent. Try soap nuts or naturally made soap bar.
40. Use cold water to wash your clothes. Hot water uses so much more energy.
41. Line dry your clothes whenever possible.
42. Think before you buy! Do you really need that new gadget or dress or chocolate bar?
43. Simplify your daily routines and and exclude any products that aren’t necessary.
44. If you haven’t already, start composting. It’s surprising how much waste can be composted, it’s not just about your food scraps.
45. Ditch bin liners. You won’t need them once you start composting as there won’t be any wet waste in your bin.
46. Recycle as much as possible. A quick internet search will tell you which of your household waste items are recyclable.
47. When purchasing new products, don’t be afraid to contact the company to find out what the product is made of and how it is made. I have contacted countless biodegradable toothbrush companies looking for information!
48. Eat less meat. You will be helping the environment by reducing global warming and you’ll be helping your health by reducing your chance of heart attack.
49. Say no to that free pen and any other items companies throw at people to advertise their product. You don’t really need them and most of the time they end up in the bin.
50. Remember the 5 R’s. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost). And remeber to practise them in that order.
I feel like I could go on with so many more but let’s cap it at 50 for now. Remember, this transition won’t happen overnight but every little bit helps and with a few small changes in your day to day life, you’ll be living zero waste and reducing your impact on the environment in no time.
Love Kat xx