Becoming Zero Waste

Author: Adela


Let’s talk about becoming zero waste! 

Have a look at your trash bin! How does it look? Pretty full, right? Could you imagine fitting all the waste that you make in a year, a month or even a week in one jar? Seems impossible, but people are doing it! 

What is Zero Waste

Zero waste could be perceived as the next level of recycling and reusing. It has become a movement with more and more followers.

The whole thing started in 2006 when a women from California, Bea Johnson, decided to implement the concept of Zero Waste lifestyle for herself and her family and shared it to her blog. The rest is history as some might say! She published a book, which was the starting point for other bloggers, eco-activists and business owners to adhere to the same beliefs and move this concept forward.
The Zero Waste movement started as a necessity to reduce waste in order to support sustainability, save money and innovate production processes.

Can you save money by becoming Zero Waste?

First of all, think about all the products that you buy and their packaging. A substantial amount of what you spend on a product goes into packaging production and design, only to be thrown away as soon as it gets in to your home. Take a box of cereals for example. You get a colourful cardboard box which has a plastic bag inside that contains the product. According to Liberty Packaging , 9% of what you pay on a product is probably the cost of packaging.

Moving forward, all that waste that we make needs to be processed and taken somewhere. And that costs money as well. And lots of it!

Zero Waste grocery stores

A handy answer to a good start in becoming Zero Waste are the Zero Waste grocery stores. The first one ever was opened in Germany 7 years ago and more and more followed. Now every country and major city in the world has them and their popularity keeps increasing.

zero waste grocery store

In 2018 Greenpeace started a campaign meant to convince supermarkets to reduce plastic packaging and move to packaging free and reusable alternatives. I can remember I used to receive emails from them asking people to kindly return the packaging in order to raise supermarkets awareness on their impact. And I guess it worked, because at the time I was working in a shop and all of a sudden more and more people were refusing to buy plastic made items. And that did not make it easy for them or for me in a stationery shop!

Although the big retailers made public commitments, there has been little progress and supermarket plastic has risen to more than 900 000 tones.

Becoming Zero Waste

Let me tell you first that becoming zero waste is not easy! Adopting a zero waste lifestyle is big change in your life and it will affect anything you do. It can be frustrating at times and overwhelming but it will become a habit in the end. 

How to prepare

In her list of 100 tips, Bea Johnson says there are 5Rs to keep in mind and simplify the process: 


Refuse anything you don’t really need by asking yourself one simple question every time you want to buy something: “Do I really need it? Or “Can I live without it?” “will I be using it more than once” Start with a bag at the grocery store, a leaflet given to you on the high street, a free newspaper, a straw at the bar, a business card at a conference, a receipt. The list can go on. 


As for the things you do need, try to reduce them by using less of everything. Water, for example can be a good start. You can try and switch off the shower tap while putting shampoo in your hair, or while you brush your teeth. As for products you normally use, most of them are designed to make you buy and use more. 


With some creativity in mind, anything can be reused. From containers of all kinds to clothes, rugs and even furniture. 


Recycling benefits you and the environment and you should already be doing this. Plastic is widely recyclable, however most recycling centres don’t accept plastic bags. Same goes for glass , which is recyclable except for mirrors or bulbs. Cardboard and paper needs to be clean in order to be accepted at a recycling station. You can take your batteries to be recycled to almost any hardware store or supermarket. Most stores that sell tech equipment have a policy of accepting one for one items to be recycled. If for example you want to buy a new phone, you could give them your old one to be recycled. Some stores even incentivise recycling by offering discounts when you bring your old stuff and buy a new one. 


Rot reffers to composting your food. Start with a container that has a lid and put all the compostable waste in there. Seeds, peals, leftovers, even paper and some cardboard can go in. You can use the compost for growing vegetables at home. Make sure you don’t put bones or meat because it will attract maggots and the smell will be unbearable. 

Start with food!

vegetable zero waste

The easiest way to start a Zero Waste lifestyle is to be aware of what type of food you’re going to buy from now on.

If you can’t find a zero waste grocery store near you, most supermarkets have plenty of vegetables and fruits that are sold loose. For eggs, milk or flower there are local farmers who can deliver weekly to you and you can negotiate to use your own packaging. For example, you get eggs in a carton and you give it back to them so they can use it next time they deliver to you. Or have one saved and ready to trade it every time.
You’ll notice in time that not only you are eating healthier food this way, but also saving money!

Learn how to regrow vegetables and have your own little garden. Your plants will thank you and you'll love to see them grow right in front of your eyes!

Every week, we like to send our subscribers a SUSTAINABLE CHALLENGE. Are you ready to take real actions into living life sustainably? Sign up or have a look at one example! 

Essentials for becoming Zero Waste

Jars! Lots of jars!

They are good for storage and packing and so much more! When I first moved to London and lived in a shared house, there were no mugs, cups or glasses to drink from. So everyone in the house was using jars for pretty much everything: drinking coffee in the morning, drinking wine or storing food. I guess we were living a zero waste lifestyle before it was cool…

If you don’t normally keep your jars and take them to the recycling bin, you can get some here. 

jars zero-waste

Bags for life

Cotton totes are just the best. My favourite thing is to paint on them! I’ve seen them everywhere, most shops sell them now and the price varies from a few cents to £20. You will also need cotton bags of all sizes for shopping. 

cotton bag

Crates, baskets

Pretty much anything you can find to carry your stuff in. If you’re one of those people who go to the supermarket once a week, you could keep a crate in the car so it’s easier to carry everything.

crate of vegetables

Pieces of Cloth

You will need them to replace tissues and napkins and even to make sachets to keep certain things. Easy to wash them and reuse again and again. 

cloth pieces

Reusable bottle

I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t have at least one. They are good for carrying water, coffee and any liquid. There are options that keep your drinks colder or hotter for a long time. 

reusable bottles

Reusable utensils

This includes metal straws and bamboo cutlery. They can come in a travel set size and they are great to carry with you all the time. 

wooden utensil zero waste

Becoming zero waste takes time and patience. Going out of your comfort zone can become too much at some point. Remember that you don’t have to be a hero and that your every effort counts, no matter how small. You can try it for a week or a month and see how it goes. Even if you don’t go for a strict zero waste lifestyle in the end, it will change the way you think about what you consume, what you use and what your impact on the environment really is.

Have you tried Zero Waste life yet? Let us know in the comments !

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