How To Get Started on Going Zero Waste

Happy February! You may recall back in December that I announced I would be sharing a new simple and sustainable living topic each month. This month is all about zero waste – something I’ve been working towards for quite sometime. I’m excited to start the month off with a guest post from Celia, author of the inspiring blog litterless.co, who will share a few of her tips on going zero waste. How To Get Started on Going Zero Waste | the beauty in simple

Some sweet friends of mine recently found out that I live a zero waste lifestyle – over the course of a few years, I’ve whittled down the amount of trash I make down to almost nothing. A month’s worth of trash can now fit in the palm of my hand; a month’s recycling can fit in the crook of my elbow. My friends were agog and promptly started quizzing me on how I do it. So, when Julie kindly asked me to share a post, I thought I’d give a few tips to get you started on something that may seem impossible at first glance – but is actually way, way easier than you’d think. So, if you want to go zero waste (or even make small steps in that direction!), here are three simple ways to get started:

  1. Compost. Food waste isn’t garbage – given the chance to decompose, it will become rich soil that we can use to grow even more food. In a landfill, it won’t decompose, so composting is the clear winner here. Once you start composting, you’ll notice the amount of trash you make dropping rapidly. Food scraps, wood, cotton, linen, and lots of other materials can go straight into the compost. If you’re able to, you can set up a simple backyard composting system. Or, check to see if there’s a compost pickup service in your area using my national composting resource guide, here.
  1. Shop smarter. By bringing your own cotton bags to the grocery store or farmers’ market to use instead of those clingy plastic produce bags, you’ll be able to buy fruits and veggies without making waste. Many stores also offer a bulk foods aisle, where you can decant unpackaged pantry staples (such as whole grains, snacks, and spices) into jars and bags you’ve brought from home. If you’re new to the bulk aisle, I’ve put together a how-to guide to get you started (it’s easy!). And, to find a store near you that offers bulk, unpackaged food that you can purchase in your own containers, click here.
  1. Think twice. Part of living more simply and sustainably is figuring out what we need to live and thrive, and what we don’t. Though my instinct used to be that “more is better,” I’ve slowly been retraining myself to say no to the things I don’t need. The grocery store sample in a plastic cup, the free pen, the item on sale. Simply put, the less I bring in to my house, the less that needs to go out as trash.

Have you thought about going zero waste? What do you do around the home to live more simply and sustainably?

If you’re interested, you can read more about all things zero waste and simple home at my blog, litterless.co. Thank you for having me, Julie!

3 thoughts on “How To Get Started on Going Zero Waste

  1. I just discovered your blog, it’s fascinating. I was wondering, I can’t shop every week at a store that has everything in bulk (for example, I buy berries out of season for the kids and they are packaged in plastic containers), what would you in that case?

    1. I’m so glad you found my blog. Thanks for reading! My suggestion won’t help now, but during the summer months I might recommend buying berries when they are in season and freezing them initially on trays (so they don’t stick together); once flash frozen, the berries can be stored in jars in the freezer. Unfortunately it does take a large amount of freezer space, so if that’s not an option, you could also dry the fresh berries for enjoyment later in the year. Eating fruit in season is often the easiest and most sustainable choice. I also wanted to add that a great way to avoid the plastic baskets and clam shell containers that berries come packed in, is to go to a pick-your-own farm and bring your own berry basket or other reusable container. I hope that gives you some ideas. By the way, I typically do my bulk shopping every other week. I’m planning on sharing my bulk shopping process on the blog later this month. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Hi, Zhenya – Celia here, wanted to chime in! Thanks for reading. Part of being zero waste for me means choosing things based on whether or not they come in packaging, so berries are out for most of the year (unless they’re frozen in season or dried). Bummer, I know. Here are a few posts that could be helpful when you think about freezing your own food:

    Berries: http://www.litterless.co/journal/frozen-blueberries

    Other food: http://www.litterless.co/journal/freezermeals

    Warmly,
    Celia

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