The Easy Ways to Living a Zero Waste Lifestyle

living a zero waste lifestyle

Last year was a 6 on 10 for me, when it came to living a zero waste lifestyle. And I’m being generous here; if I had to be super strict, I’d be able to give myself maybe a 4 out of 10. What went wrong? Just the difficulty of living in this world, with its rampant plastic packaging and scarce recycling possibilities. What went right? My attempt to be as minimalist as possible: If you buy less, you end up wasting less. I did the bare minimum purchasing of new items, bought only secondhand electronics, and my new job allows me to take the bus to work everyday – which I count as a win (it was an unexpected part of my new job, but a win nonetheless). 

But I could have still done a lot more. Hence the 5 out of 10 (I’ve averaged out the 6 and 4 to arrive at 5!). I have decided to be more intentional about it than I was last year, and make a rough zero waste guide for 2020. This is meant to help me, but if it helps others also, then that’s awesome:)

Note: As I’ve mentioned before, a “zero waste” lifestyle isn’t literally zero waste; it cannot be. This is a disclaimer for the pedants here – of which I happen to be one. This is better described as a low waste lifestyle, and basically involves reducing your waste as well as your carbon footprint (reducing use of the planet’s resources) as much as possible.

Just do your best, and be mindful of your impact on the planet (and your local environment). Pro tip: spending less money is the easiest way to control the major wastages, since money usually translates into material items – which have been made using the Earth’s resources. Buying less = wasting less. So keeping a close eye on your budget is essential. 

Ok now, let’s get into the details of living a zero waste lifestyle in 2020.



Living a Zero Waste Lifestyle


Reduce food waste

Buy what you need, and make sure you use whatever you’ve bought. The average American wastes up to a pound of food a day. The environmental costs of that adds up to a lot of extremely damaging waste. And, remember, “wasted food, like all food production, also contributes to the warming of the planet, because agriculture is a key source of the fast-warming gases methane and nitrous oxide.”

Also to remember, apart from the environmental consequences, is that there are still many people around the world who don’t have enough to eat. Us eating less will not necessarily translate into more food for them, but do keep in mind the value of the thing we’re so casually wasting; it’s a matter of life or death for someone else. Unlike wasting, say, paper or plastic.

Reduce consumption of meat 

Eat less meat – that’s always a good piece of advice. Not all of us can manage on a vegan or vegetarian diet, but our agricultural system is currently set up such that the meat industry contributes a very high amount to global warming. A 2013 study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that total annual emissions from animal agriculture (production emissions and land-use change) were about 14.5 percent of all human emissions, of which beef contributed 41 percent. So less of that would do some good to us all.

Not to say plant agriculture is blameless, but hey, we gotta eat something, right?

Switch from paper towels to cloth

Replace your kitchen paper towels with some old rags. It’s so cheap even: just use your old t-shirts, cotton tops and stuff to clean up spills in your kitchen. Here’s the key difference: you can wash the cloth and reuse them. Instead of the use-and-throw paper napkins.

Avoid single-use products

Speaking of use-and-throw, stop using single use products! Plastic straws, spoons and forks, plastic bags, anything that’s designed for single use…just stop using them. Enough already.

Switch to reusable items

If not single use items, then what? Exactly what people were using before plastic was invented: ceramic, glass, wooden, steel. 

Like this steel water bottle.

They’re not made to be disposable, and good quality items will even last you a lifetime! And the best part? You can stock up of these items at the thrift store. Hmmm…vintage;)

Buy in bulk

Buy in the bulk items section of the department store. Now, not everyone has access to such stores, and I understand that. But, if you do have that option, please exercise it. Take your own jars and containers for your grocery shopping and fill them up minus any plastic use (well, except the plastic sanitary gloves, but…). Support local artisans who made soap by hand by buying and using soap made by them. Maybe you can learn how to make your own soap, so you know exactly what goes into it. Make your own snacks in bulk, and swap with friends. The possibilities are endless. 




Living a Zero Waste Lifestyle

Conserve water

Try rainwater harvesting if that’s a thing in your area, take shorter showers (or fill up water in a bucket and use that to bathe), recycle water at home (collect runoff water from your AC and water your plants with it). Reduce water use as much as possible in your home.

Switch to non-toxic household products

Make (or buy) non-toxic cleaning products. And even non-toxic personal care products. Conventional chemical cleaners have been linked to cancers and respiratory issues, so it’s best to not opt for them. Make your own products (Dr. Bronner’s is a popular ingredient in most recipes), save yourself some money, and give yourself some peace of mind – cos your family isn’t being poisoned!:P

Read more tips for a zero waste home.




Living a Zero Waste Lifestyle

Stop buying fast fashion

Shop at thrift stores for some excellent thrift store fashion finds. But organic denim and cotton clothing. Fast fashion exploits workers along the supply chain and has a huge negative impact on the environment thanks to their basic business model. Let’s stop supporting fast fashion brands.

Buy secondhand electronics

Buy refurbished electronics. I say this as someone who has been using secondhand/refurbished electronic gadgets for years. 

Or support fairtrade companies such as Fairphone. 

Expand your skill set

Cooking, gardening, sewing, woodwork – these are all such excellent past times, apart from being vital skills. Building your skills will take time, but it’s so worth it, for your mental, physical and emotional health (apart from being practical AF). Imagine if you could build your own stylish desk with locally sourced wood, instead of having one shipped from Thailand or Sweden. Imagine cooking your own healthy meals every day, and spending less time, money and medical fees on outside food. Imagine the sense of accomplishment – and the limited waste that you would be contributing to.

Rediscover the library

Borrow books, instead of buying. This is a hard one for me, because I love books. But I’m not giving up books; I’m just borrowing instead of buying. Saves me money and saves the planet some trees…

I also buy secondhand books. I think of it as investing in art – where the old, worn, yellowing book is a work of art…and I am saving it. Hehe.

Go digital

This may not be ideal, and still uses up a lot of energy, but you can save some trees by using tech instead of paper. Take school and work notes on your computer, use a digital planner instead of a Moleskine (digital planners are awesome!), and buy an e-book or audiobook instead of a paperback (this breaks my book-loving heart, but we need to be strong).


Volunteer for clean-up activities

Check your local listings for beach cleanups, trail cleanups, river cleanups. There’s more than enough to clean up these days. Roll your sleeves up and help out whenever you can.

Be the example

Be a good role model, and be the change you wish to see in the world. Not being cheesy here, but there’s never been a more important time to set a positive example. Everyone is watching the weather news, and regardless of whether they believe in climate change or not, and whether they believe they can do something or not, they will be positively affected by seeing someone who is consciously, deliberately doing his/her best to reduce our impact on the planet. It can be pretty powerful.


Read More

Zero Waste Bathroom: Plastic-free Period

Zero Waste Bathroom: Sustainable Toilet Paper

5 Weeks to a Zero Waste Kitchen

Style Your Home with Zero Waste, Thrifted Furniture

Minimalism for the Environment


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living a zero waste lifestyle


2 Comment

  1. You can reduce the wastage by buying multipurpose product instead of so many products for different but related functions.

    1. Yes! That’s the best option, of course:)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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