Beginners Guide To Living More Zero Waste

When learning about the zero waste movement, it can feel a little daunting when trying to figure out where to start. There are so many different influencers and products being advertised these days that it can feel a little overwhelming or that you have to perfect at it straight away.

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To tell you the truth, you’re never going to be perfect at being zero waste (unless you completely self sustain yourself on food, energy, water, and never buy basically anything!). There will always be something that you buy that’s either packaged in single use plastic, some loose produce that has stickers, and days when you just need/want ready made food.

Being zero waste is one of those things where it’s so much better for thousands of people to do it imperfectly, than just having 10-20 people doing it perfectly. Being more conscious of what you purchase and how you deal with your waste is a huge deal so try to remember that although if you’re not doing the best, you’re doing your best, and that’s all that matters.

What is the Zero Waste Movement?

Being zero waste basically means that you try and create as little waste as possible in your day-to-day life. You may be familiar with the trash jar that was really popular between 2010 and 2015 – but this is actually a really unrealistic vision of how much trash is produced to create the things you own and what trash you personally have to deal with. Everyone has so many different variables in their lives to deal with, and so everyone’s personal zero waste journey will be different.

When trying to be more low waste, there are lots of different routes you can take. If you have a compost bin then this can be a great way to deal with food waste, and if you have access to bulk stores than these can help with reducing single use packaging.

How to include being zero waste into your lifestyle

Below I have added a list of some easy ways to start with zero waste as a beginner, just remember that you don’t have to do every one straight away!

Assess what you already own

The most zero waste thing you can do is to use what you already own before buying new. You may realise that a lot of the stuff that people talk about when going zero waste, you already have. If you already own a water bottle that you really love, you probably don’t need to buy an insulated one to look “more sustainable”.

By assessing what you already own, you could even save yourself some money too – reuse your old glass jars rather than buying branded ones, only buying alternatives that you’ll actually use, and appreciating the stuff you own.

Make a budget for upgrades

When you get to a point where you need to buy new alternatives to replace your old products when they break, try and make yourself a budget for it and put money away each month – it doesn’t have to be a lot.

You may think that some alternatives can be a little expensive at first, but putting money away each month to upgrade some things – whether it’s new food containers or a new razor, can be a good way to make sure you only buy the things when needed.

Before you buy your new upgrades, you could also see if you can go without it for a period of time to see if you actually need it, rather than just buying it again for the sake of it.

Donate what you no longer need

At the start of your journey, you may realise that there are things in your home you no longer need or use. Rather than throwing these in the trash straight away, see if you can donate or sell them – just because you don’t need something doesn’t mean someone else might not value it.

Making sure you’re conscious of what you’re removing from your life as well as bringing into it is equally as important when being zero waste. There is so many things out in the world already, so making sure you declutter responsibly is a really big thing to remember.

Take it a step at a time

When you get started, you might feel a little overwhelmed on where to get started, and that’s perfectly okay! Trying to be more conscious of what your purchase is a huge step, so just try and take it slow – you’re not going to be perfect straight away anyways.

A few small things you could do when getting started is: assessing your trash and what you throw away the most frequently, start making your lunch for work, see what plastic-packaged alternatives are available in your grocery store. It doesn’t have to anything major to start off with, but making small steps are better than no steps at all.

Look into different options

There are so many different options for literally every product, but just take a few to begin with and move up from there. You could start with trying to slowly buy more loose fruit and veg or order a veg box, switch out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one, or even buy a biodegradable phone case when your current one breaks.

You don’t have to go over board and replace everything straight away, but when things break or your consumables run out, then finding a more eco-conscious option to have instead can be a good thing to start looking into.

Don’t buy things if you don’t need them

Avoid trends where possible, because otherwise you’re just buying things that you might not need, and so end up throwing them away regardless. When you look into all sorts of different zero waste and sustainable influencers, they’ll have insulated water bottles, reusable coffee cups, straws, and bamboo cutlery – if you don’t already buy the disposable ones of these on a regular basis, then have a think if you need the reusable before you buy it.

There are a lot of resources that go into making all the reusable alternatives, and if you just buy things for the trend rather than because you’ll use it, then not only are you wasting these resources but your money too.

Make meal plans and shopping lists

If you tend to throw away a lot of food because you don’t get a chance to eat it before it goes off, or you buy it just for the sake of it, it might be a good idea to asses how you shop. Making meal plans each week is a great way to asses what you already have in the house that still needs eating, as well as saving money too – as wasting food is basically wasting money too.

Shopping lists basically go hand-in-hand with meal plans, because you might not have everything you need to make a specific meal, but it also means that you’re less likely to be buying food you don’t need. While it is a good idea to have some pantry essentials, try and look at what some of the oldest produce is so that gets eaten before it goes past it’s best.

If you’re interested in learning more about reducing your food waste, make sure you check out my post on that here.

Try and make your own if possible

Now this can go for so may different things, whether that be in the kitchen, bathroom, or just around the house. When it comes to meals, you usually create less waste by making them from scratch than if you buy them either pre-made, as well as it starting to be a lot easier to buy loose ingredients too. The same goes for cleaning products too – you can often make these from old food scraps, rather then buying new bottles each time.

Shop small businesses

More often than not, you’ll find that smaller businesses are more likely to take into consideration of their impacts on the planet than bigger brands. There is so much more waste that you might not usually factor in, because it comes from the brands you buy from.

By shopping small businesses, these brands are more likely to take in consideration where their ingredients come from, what their packaging is made of, and how to dispose of it – some might even have refill schemes too.

Hopefully these tips help you on your journey to be more zero waste, regardless if you’re a beginner or have been around for a while! Do you have any tips for being more sustainable?

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