7 Experts on Sustainable Living share their Unconventional Zero Waste Tips for Beginners.
Updated: May 26
Want to live more sustainably but it can often be overwhelming. When you take a closer look at what is going on in and around your house, you may notice that there is just so much that could have been more sustainable. Here are 7 experts in the sustainable living community that share their non-conventional tips with you.
Lindsay from TreadingMyOwnPath
Use what you have, make it last, fix/repair it if you need to, and only replace things as a last resort. It might not be the popular opinion, and it's tempting to want to buy 'eco-friendly' products made from natural materials, but globally our waste problem doesn't stem from a recycling crisis, it stems from an overconsumption crisis. Every time you don't buy something and make what you have last, you're having a more positive impact on the planet than you are when you buy more stuff, even when that stuff is ‘sustainable'.
Shannon from Mama Eco
1) Use your cling wrap and ziplock bags!!
Plastic has gotten such a bad wrap in the zero waste world (rightfully so); however, if you already have an inventory of cling wrap, ziplock bags, and plastic Tupperware, the most sustainable thing you can do is use those supplies first. Then, once your stock has been used, you can swap to more sustainable and reusable options. Most people think they need a clean slate and while that option is tempting, especially if you're now getting into your sustainable journey, it's important to use what you have first. Then, go for a more sustainable option.
2) Join/start a local Buy Nothing group! (it's a gold mine)
BuyNothing.org is a non-profit organization that connects people to their local community where they can participate in the gifting economy. Through local buy nothing groups, people share things that they are in need of or things that they want to give away, and their fellow members respond. The secret of the buy nothing group is that there can be no exchange of money, so it's an affordable way to get furniture, kitchen supplies, cat food, plant pots, you name it! And it's probably the greatest zero waste, sustainable and affordable resource out there.
Kira from TheGreenHubOnline
My zero-waste tip for anyone just starting out is to not strive for a zero-waste lifestyle, it doesn't exist. Living more sustainably is not about being perfect, it’s about doing what you can with what you have available to you. And know that living a zero-waste or low-waste lifestyle is actually about the mindset shift more than the individual actions we take. Because once you’re aware of the issues like plastic pollution and Climate Change, you begin to understand the importance of collective action and system change and how your actions can inspire and influence the people around you to change as well.
Wendy from Moral Fibers
My non-conventional tip for beginners is to avoid the temptation to go out and buy a load of zero-waste products. A bamboo cutlery set for your bag might look nice, but wouldn't some cutlery from your kitchen do the same job? Likewise, some matching jars for bulk produce might look nice but a cheaper and more eco-friendly option would be to reuse the jars you already have. Getting into the habit of making do with what you have, and creatively reusing it is the cheapest, more accessible way into living a greener life.
Natalie from Sustainably Chic
I'm not sure how non-conventional this is, but don't ever feel like you have to make a ton of changes at once. Start with one thing at the beginning of the month, and devote your extra time to the new change. If you take on several zero-waste ideas at once, you will easily become overwhelmed and not want to follow through.
Elizabeth from ConsciousLifeandStyle
1. Installing a bidet attachment has been one of my favorite low waste swaps to date! Bidets not only reduce toilet paper use (potentially could eliminate toilet paper if you feel comfortable patting dry with reusable cloths, though I must admit I haven’t gotten comfortable with that yet) but they’re also more hygienic and healthier, minimizing the risks of irritation and damage down there. TUSHY creates affordable, relatively easy-to-install bidets. I personally have the TUSHY Classic Bidet but if your toilet is near a sink with a hot water connection, I recommend spending the extra $20 or so for the TUSHY Spa, which comes with a temperature control option! [Here is my full guide on zero waste toilet paper alternatives and eco-friendly toilet paper.]
2. When we think about zero waste, we often focus on the tangible things we can see, but electricity is an expensive resource (for your wallet and the planet) that gets wasted a TON! There are the obvious switches like opting for natural light and turning off the light switches whenever possible, unplugging electronics, and taking shorter showers. But one area that isn’t talked about enough, in my opinion, is how we care for our clothes. First off, you can probably wash your clothes less than you think (I have some tips on getting smells out without washing them here), and then when you do wash them, opt for the cold option on the washing machine. According to energystar.gov, almost all (90%) of the energy a washing machine uses goes to heating the water. And, of course, line-drying whenever possible is a huge way to save on energy from a drying machine.
Zoe from EcoThriftyLiving
Don't use going zero waste as a reason to hold onto things that you don't need, or eat leftovers that you aren't hungry for. Although they aren't being thrown away, they are still going to waste. Eating more food than you need is a waste and holding onto things you don't have a use for is a waste. So what can you do? Either find a new home for the items where they will get used, or accept that you can't rescue these items by eating them/ holding on to them. Learn lessons for next time and try to avoid similar waste occurring in the future e.g. by learning how to keep food waste low.
I hope these tips gave you new insights on how to live more sustainably beyond the ones you already knew and will help you make our planet a little bit greener.