From nixing snail mail to braving the bulk section of the supermarket, there are tons of ways to embrace a zero waste lifestyle throughout the day. In this post, we’ll explore some of our favorite zero waste tips for everyday life and shine a spotlight on zero waste brands that are moving the needle on sustainable living.
Adopting a zero waste lifestyle is a bit like landing on Mars or creating cold fusion. It’s incredible to imagine but feels impossible to execute.
Except it isn’t. Plenty of ordinary people have made the leap to zero waste. And they’re not only living the dream—they’re loving it. Like the Johnsons of Zero Waste Home, a family of four living in downtown San Francisco who can fit a year’s worth of their household waste into a mason jar. Or Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life, who got her plastic consumption down to just two percent of the national average. She also compiles a list of plastic trash art that serves as a warning and a call to action about the urgent need for sustainability.
If there’s anything we can learn from these zero waste superstars, it’s that a more eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t require a master plan or major sacrifices. What it really comes down to is a series of small changes (and some big ones) that begin to add up over time. And if you’re worried about having to give up everything that makes life worth living in the name of sustainability, don’t be. The truth is that a zero waste lifestyle leads to better well-being and more abundance of the things that truly matter, not less.
It’s okay to start small. Pick one area of your life for implementing these zero waste tips, like your makeup routine. Use our waste calculator to find out how much waste your beauty regime has created over the course of your lifetime. It'll help you better understand the impact of a few simple swaps.
A more eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t require a master plan or major sacrifices.
Opt Out of Paper Mail
Like plastic bottles washing up on the seashore, our mailboxes are subject to a never-ending flow of bills, flyers, notices, and junk mail. Most of it ends up in the trash bin without ever being opened. You can stop the influx by going paperless for your bills, statements and subscriptions. It’s also worth the effort to get your name taken off junk mail lists.
Use Microfiber Cloths Instead of Household Paper Products
Toilet paper. Facial tissues. Paper towels. Napkins. Our homes are filled with single-use paper products that are incredibly wasteful. The good news is that each and every one of them can easily be replaced with microfiber cloths that can be washed and reused again and again. The earth and your wallet will thank you.
Don’t Buy Anything that Comes in Packaging
Packaging is a huge source of household waste. Just consider your breakfast cereal. It comes packaged in a plastic bag, which is then packaged in a cardboard box. Two layers of packaging, all to hold a few servings of cereal.
An easy way to cut down on packaging is to shop at places where you can carry the products you buy out of the store in your own reusable cloth or mesh bags. And we’re not just talking about the bulk bin section at the health food store (although that’s a great place to start!). Farmer’s markets, bakeries and local fruit and veggie stands are all places where you can skip the packaging and practice zero waste shopping.
Bring Your Own Containers for Takeout
Ditching takeout food containers (especially those black plastic containers that can't be recycled) is another easy win when it comes to a zero waste lifestyle. Simply bring your own reusable containers to the restaurant and ask the staff to use them for your takeout order. It’s just like bringing a reusable tumbler or travel mug to the coffee shop, and it works for all kinds of food vendors—from upscale restaurants to corner cafes to deli counters.
Give Up Shopping as a Hobby
Another way that waste finds its way into our lives is through impulse purchases. It’s easy for a casual trip to the mall (or some idle browsing on Amazon) to turn into an unplanned buying frenzy, so the best strategy is to nip it in the bud and remove window shopping and online shopping from your list of downtime activities.
If you feel tempted to backslide, remember that every new item you bring into your home becomes your responsibility—both to care for and, ultimately, dispose of. Keeping this in mind makes it easier to discern purchases that will improve your life from ones that will become a burden.
Treat Water like a Precious Resource
Zero waste is about more than buying less—it’s also about making better use of the resources we have, like water. The average American uses 82 gallons of water every single day, and most of us have no idea our consumption is that high. But there are plenty of ways to significantly reduce our water usage that won’t impact our cleanliness or comfort one bit. The water you use for rinsing your fruits and veggies? Save it and water your plants with it. The water you waste waiting for your shower to get warm? Try collecting it in a bucket and using it for housecleaning.
Buy from Zero Waste Brands
The fact that so many businesses are prioritizing sustainability just goes to show that zero waste isn’t a passing fad. It’s part of a wider social movement to protect the planet and live better, simpler and more ethical lives. And we can join that movement by voting with our dollars and choosing brands that offer zero waste alternatives to the status quo.
Izzy Zero Waste Beauty is a zero waste makeup brand offering clean, cruelty-free products in endlessly refillable containers. Izzy’s gorgeous, high-performance mascaras, glosses and brow gels are eco-friendly and an awesome example of how zero waste doesn’t have to mean zero fun. Click here to learn how Izzy manufactures and distributes its zero waste makeup without harming the planet.