40 Tips For Starting And Keeping A Zero-Waste LifestyleBy Navkiran K
It may be cliche, but the phrase “every little bit counts” is very much true. And this is especially true when making changes to save the planet, we could all stand to do our part. But let’s face the reality that sometimes it can be hard to know where to start or what kind of impact our individual efforts can really make. Luckily, there are many easy ways we can all help make the world a little bit greener — and some of them might surprise you! All you have to do is make wise choices to reduce your carbon footprint. You won’t even need to compromise comfort! Even the most minor considerate step towards environmentally-friendly living can help. Keep reading for sustainable hacks that will help you on your journey for a more eco-friendly and zero-waste life.
1. Multipurpose drive
Going on a drive is great for the mind’s relaxation. However, mindlessly driving around adds to environmental pollution. And with the rising gas prices, you may not have the luxury to just take a drive whenever you feel like it. Why not use one trip for multiple purposes?
You can enjoy your car ride while running a few errands. Make it an event by carpooling with friends headed to the same destination. This will reduce pollution from your car, and cut down on traffic with fewer vehicles on the road. It’s a win-win-win!
2. Treat leaking taps ASAP
Clean water is a luxury not everyone can afford, so those with unrestricted access should be appreciative of what they have. Part of showing appreciation is not wasting water. If you have leaky taps around the house, it’s time to call your plumber to fix it.
Getting repairs done as soon as possible saves both water and money. For one, your water bill may be increased with leaks. By patching it up, you aren’t paying extra for what you don’t use. And while some issues may seem small at first, if you put it off, it’ll be a more expensive job later on.
3. Sustainable reading
Bookworms may get into the habit of collecting books, accumulating enough to fill several bookshelves over time. Although there is nothing like the feel and smell of a new book, it’s not sustainable to buy new books every time you want to read something.
A lot of energy and resources go into printing books. Instead, buy second-hand books or visit your local library. Borrowing books is free, so you’ll be having trees and money! You can also trade in for a digital bookshelf with an e-reader if that’s more your style.
4. Read natural living blogs
Speaking of reading, why not give your mind something constructive to think about? Reading natural living and sustainability blogs can help us develop a sense of awe and intrigue. Taking inspiration from others may just be the key to sustainable living.
Read blogs and watch video logs of people who are already on the sustainable path. These may include beauty, wellness, fitness, and cooking. You may learn new tips and tricks to be more environmentally friendly; listening to podcasts allows you to learn while doing daily chores.
5. Try recycled toilet paper
One thing every household needs is toilet paper. Even if you’re on your zero waste journey, you’ll still need something in the bathroom. Bidets have been suggested as an eco-friendly alternative, but not everyone is comfortable with them. Instead, try recycled toilet paper.
Before you say anything, of course, it’s not toilet paper that’s been recycled. It’s toilet paper made of recycled consumer trash like textbooks and office paper. According to the reviews, it’s just as soft as the traditional ones. Stack your toilets with these and go green!
6. Turn down the degrees of the water heater
Did you know that you can adjust the temperature of your boiler? You might think it’s too small of a change, but it will actually benefit the environment. By reducing the temperature a little, you’ll be able to avoid mineral deposits and water heater tank corrosion.
Doing this will also increase the lifespan of your water heating unit. You won’t need to replace or repair it within a few years. Another way to save on water heating bills is to not leave it turned on for an extended time.
7. Drink organic coffee
For most people, the go-to beverage is coffee. One cup a day doesn’t seem like much, but when you tally it together, they add up. Like many things in our daily lives, we don’t think about all the steps in between coffee beans and our morning cup of joe. Try switching to organic coffee as part of your daily routine.
Consider how much coffee is consumed on a daily basis. Also, consider how much money and resources could be saved if these tones were replaced with organic coffee. Farmers of organic crops don’t use pesticides, which have untold effects on the environment.
8. Choose reusable bags
Cloth bogs are becoming increasingly popular with consumers, even those not actively seeking a zero-waste lifestyle. However, some people still choose to use disposable bags, despite countries moving to ban them or add an additional fee. Using plastic bags might not seem like a big deal, but plastic pollution is devastating to the environment.
Switching to sustainable cloth, canvas, and jute bags is just one way to prevent plastic pollution. Choose natural materials like cotton or hemp over woven polyethylene bags, which are made of plastic. The production process for plastic materials is a huge polluter; it’s not just the bags themselves.
9. Make your own cleaning solution
Even if you’re not a fan of house chores, we all need to do it at some point. Next time it’s your turn to clean the house, try using a homemade cleaner instead of the traditional cleaning products that are more expensive and contain dangerous chemicals.
It’s not difficult to make, either. All you need is vinegar, water, and orange or lemon peels for a nice scent. It’s mild enough to safely clean most surfaces, and it still gets the job done well. If you have kids or pets, this is a non-toxic alternative to traditional cleaners.
10. Swtich to soap bars
Everyone has a shower regimen and usually a preferred brand of shampoo. But those expensive bottles don’t just take a toll on the environment, but your hair as well. The chemicals in these products strip your hair of natural oils, causing it to lose its natural shine and gloss.
Trade out your plastic bottles for soap dishes. Shampoo, conditioner, and body soap bars are all available. And if you can’t find it at a store near you, try some of the online shops that ship their products with no plastic packaging.
11. Save scrap paper
Paper is necessary at home, in the office, at school, and practically everywhere. Even in the digital age, we still accumulate some scrap paper. Before you toss it in the recycling, set it aside; that paper could still be useful.
If you have kids, you can give them the paper to draw on. Or, you can use it to write your shopping list on, or crumble them up to protect fragile items if you need to pack something up. You can also switch to printing on both sides to reduce your paper use overall.
12. Use cold water for laundry
Washing clothes, unfortunately, releases microfibers into the water that then finds their way to the ocean and even drinking water. There are microfiber filters available, but they are expensive and don’t fit in every home. Use cold water next time you do laundry.
The hot water loosens the fabric of your clothes, causing them to release more microfibers. Cold water is just as capable of cleaning your clothes and getting rid of stains. It’s good for your wallet, too, because cold water saves electricity.
13. Menstrual cups
Switching to menstrual cups is great for that time of the month. They’re available in numerous sizes, so every girl is sure to find one that is the perfect fit for her needs. They are cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and overall healthier for your body.
Menstrual cups are more durable than pads or tampons, which are often colored with chemicals that you risk putting into your body. They are more hygienic than their single-use counterparts and are safe to use for longer periods of time. Wash them in between each use, and you’re sure to have a more confident and comfortable menstrual cycle.
14. Dry clothes on a clothesline
You may have observed your grandmother hanging clothes to dry on the clothesline when you were kids. However, as technology progressed, clothes dryers became a staple in every household. But clothing lines are not outdated and still doable in most places.
Drying clothes on a clothesline encourages energy conservation. It also helps you save money on electric bills. This method is also gentler on clothing, with only a breeze to move them around rather than a harsh metal drum. You’ll also notice that your clothes will last longer!
15. Store rainwater for gardening and houseplants
Collecting rainwater and using it to water houseplants is a fantastic idea. This is environment friendly, and plants love it too! You may build rainwater harvesting tanks to collect the water and use it later. These can be built on roofs and backyards.
Rainwater offers numerous advantages, including that it is gentle and hence safe for plants. It also has the appropriate PH for plant growth. Because rainwater contains no chemicals, salts, or other man-made components, plants receive it as a source of pure hydration.
16. Replace your light bulbs with energy-saving ones
Energy-saving bulbs are slowly taking over the market, replacing the usual incandescent, halogen, and CFL light bulbs. Energy-saving bulbs aid in energy conservation and lower monthly utility expenditures. LED lights are also suited for use in cold and low-temperature environments.
They also have a longer lifespan than others and are more soothing to the eyes as they emit almost no ultraviolet light. Additionally, they help save money and emit less heat. They’re cool to the touch and produce a lot less carbon dioxide. Who wouldn’t want such an alternative?
17. Try doing “Sustainability films and chill”
You’ve undoubtedly heard of “Netflix and chill,” but try doing “sustainability films and chill” to keep up with the go green initiative. Cinema can be influential in saving the planet from man-made disasters. They may not be as amusing as a Rom-Com, but the lessons learned are invaluable.
These movies and documentaries on environmental issues can be eye-opening. Seeing the current situation of our planet may make people more concerned. So set aside a few hours to watch a film about sustainability. This will open up discussions and get you thinking about how you can help in the preservation of your planet.
18. Use cloth diapers instead
Diapers are an essential element of child-rearing. Disposable diapers have unquestionably aided millions of families and made the lives of many parents simpler. However, with all the diapers babies go through, it takes a huge toll on the environment. Cloth diapers are a great eco-friendly alternative.
Cloth diapers are cheaper than disposable diapers. Another perk of cloth diapers is that they are much better for your child’s health. Chemicals in disposable diapers may be bad for your kid. Parents have also stated that this helped them with toilet training.
19. Support farmers’ markets
Shop locally for your produce. Fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets nourish your family and the environment. Because it’s grown locally, there is less pollution when these items are brought from the farm to the market. And it’s less plastic packaging, too!
You can also get rare seasonal produce directly from the farmers at lower costs. Besides the healthier food, smaller carbon footprint, and reduced packaging, going to your local farmers’ market is a great place for social interaction with your community.
20. Do backyard gardening
For those who enjoy gardening, doing so in your own backyard may be a lot of fun while also being environmentally friendly. You can cultivate your own vegetables, which is perfect for those seeking organic produce. You control what goes on and into your food in a backyard garden.
Try planting herbs, too. With a diverse herb garden, you can add fresh flavor to your meals every time you cook. You can also plant seeds from the vegetables you eat. For some extra fun with gardening, put your seeds from cooking into the same pile and be surprised by what grows!
21. Reuse old glass jars as containers
Glass jars come in a variety of shapes and sizes; this means that you can find a jar to perfectly suit your needs no matter what. You can use them for air fresheners, herb sorting, vegetable storage, drink containers, and more.
Glass jars are perfect for storing leftovers. Plastic containers will leach chemicals into your food, and by extension, your body. Free of BPA and other synthetic chemicals, glass is a healthier way to store your food. You can also use them as planters if you want an indoor garden.
22. Use eco-friendly gift wrap paper
Glittering, metallic, and glossy papers contain plastic, which means that they can’t be recycled. This is just one more source of plastic pollution that we can easily get rid of. Switch to wrapping paper made of recycled materials to disguise your gifts.
By using paper that is set to go to the recycling plant anyway, you are giving it at least one more use. It’s also fun and more personalized with recycled wrapping paper. Get creative with origami techniques, dried leaves, flowers, and twine as decoration.
23. Do your home energy assessment
Homeowners can use a home energy audit to determine their domestic usage and energy flow. An energy auditor can determine where your home is wasting the most energy and give recommendations for energy-saving measures that will help you save money on your electricity bills.
This way you’ll be able to save as much energy and money as possible. Moreover, you’ll be able to increase the value of your property. These audits may also help identify issues such as leaks or inefficient appliances that may need fixing to work correctly.
24. Replace old appliances with an energy-saving one
Energy-efficient appliances will help lower energy expenses while also reducing energy waste and greenhouse gas emissions. When you replace obsolete appliances with more environmentally friendly models, you may save up to 20% on your utility expenses. How great is that?
Appliances with the Energy Star designation are the best choice to save up on resources. These government-approved appliances have undergone rigorous testing to ensure that they consume less energy. Make sure your electrical system can tolerate the update before making any adjustments.
25. Unplugging not in use devices
We live in a time where electricity is in continual need. We frequently hear people offering suggestions on how to preserve electricity. It may seem daunting, but you can start with baby steps. The first step is to unplug any gadgets that are not in use.
You can also make use of power strips with on/off switches. This will make it easier to “unplug” devices without yanking at the cord too much. Focus on items that have a standby mode, such as individual AC units. Even when they’re off, they’re still using a little bit of power.
26. Pay your bills online
We all have bills to pay. If it feels like you’re overwhelmed by the amount of paper you have from your own home, imagine how much is used worldwide. Paying bills online saves paper as well as household clutter. You can easily organize your essential documents on your PC rather than crumpled folders.
Another benefit is saving your time and not waiting in extensive lines for your turn. You can easily pay your bill with online banking and apps on your phone. Besides, paying online is safer as it decreases the possibility of identity theft.
27. Turn your kid’s artwork into something creative
It’s no secret that kids like creating art and sharing their work. But is it beginning to take over your home? Don’t worry; you can turn it into something charming as well. All you need is a little imagination and some creativity to get started.
Turn that stack of unique artwork your kids made into a display that both celebrates their labor and complements your decor. Turn them into greeting cards, or frame them and create an art gallery in the halls. Your kids are sure to appreciate it.
28. Visit local restaurants more often
Just like shopping at a farmers’ market, eating at restaurants with locally sourced food cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions normally spent transporting food from the farm to the kitchen. And with fresher ingredients, the food will retain its flavor and nutritional value.
Local foods are often more environmentally friendly than large-scale farms. They require less energy in harvesting and transportation. These restaurants buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, contributing to the preservation of green space. Eating locally is also good for health as the food’s organic and free from pesticides.
29. Purchase a reusable water bottle
Excessive use of plastic and plastic garbage has been one of the top environmental concerns. One way to reduce your impact is to switch to a reusable water bottle. And Mother Nature isn’t the only one who benefits from this switch…
A study published in 2018 tested over 250 water bottles from nine countries and found that 93% of them had detectable amounts of microplastic! These weren’t random products, either. Brands like Nestle and Aquafina, and Dasani were part of the study. Do your body a favor and switch to a glass or steel bottle.
30. Expand your knowledge about other cultures
Not only is it important to understand diverse cultures, but it also encourages peaceful cohabitation. Every country has its own recipe, and the world is a never-ending cookbook. Besides, trying a country’s local cuisine is a great way to learn about its culture.
You’ll notice how exposure to cultural learning possibilities stimulates the mind and encourages you to think in new ways. You may get to learn new sustainable habits from diverse cultures. In addition, you can make it a habit to read literature written by people from many cultures.
31. Use a waste cloth for cleaning
Hundreds of millions of pounds of garbage wind up in landfills each year. On top of that, piles of waste end up in the seas and forests. But no matter where it ends up, the source is the same: household and commercial waste.
Switching to cloth for cleaning isn’t just environmentally friendly but also economical. When compared to paper, they have a longer lifespan and can be washed and used multiple times. Plus, you won’t have to make extra trips to the store to stock up on tissues and paper towels.
32. DIY compost bin
Composting is one of the best ways to reduce landfill clutter and greenhouse gas emissions. Composting provides a healthy place for food to break down, with all of the nutrients and access to oxygen needed for the process. Better yet, the end result is perfect for your home garden!
You can buy or make your own compost. If you’re going to DIY it, make sure you have the right materials and conditions before you start using it. It may take some getting used to, but you’ll find that you need to take out the garbage less often.
33. Thrifting before buying brand new
Buying brand new items has a larger carbon footprint than you might think. Fast fashion is responsible for an estimated 10% of the global carbon emissions; combined with pollution from manufacturing and the clothing industry is a major source of pollution.
Instead, shop at second-hand stores or participate in clothing swaps. Not only is this better for the environment, but you’ll have a lot more fun on your shopping trip. The next time you clear out your closet, take advantage of these resources. Donate clothes to thrift shops; some even offer store credit when you donate.
34. Switch off the lights when not in use
To help save electricity and minimize your utility bills, turn off the lights when you leave your room. Moreover, if you have older lights and appliances in the house, they may be adding up more to the bills due to decreased efficiency. Make sure you use them minimally.
In the daytime, take advantage of natural lighting. Instead of turning on lights, keep drapes and shades open and let the sun stream in. Dimmers, motion detectors, and timers are all fantastic options for lighting controls. Keep these things in mind to cut short on electricity bills.
35. Choose to walk or cycle
Do you have an errand to run? Take your bike or go on foot. These physical workouts have a plethora of benefits. Cars, as we all know, cause pollution and traffic. You don’t have to worry about releasing harmful greenhouse emissions when you can bike or stroll short distances.
Invest in a good bicycle and protective gear so you can use it to its full capacity. Several cities have special paths for the bikers to have a safe riding space. Instead of relying on cars all the time, choosing to cycle will be better for the planet and your health.
36. Enquire about a renewable energy company
The perks of renewable energy have long been recognized, including cleaner air, lower carbon emissions, natural resource conservation, and significant long-term savings. So why not save money on your electricity bill by installing one? You can go and ask your utility company about it.
Renewable energy, whether it’s solar or another green power source like wind or biomass, has been shown to provide significant environmental and health benefits. You may get solar panels installed on your roof and power the house with it while saving money.
37. Try avoiding turning on lights
There are numerous advantages to using natural light. One of the most significant advantages is that it can be used in place of tube lights and other types of lighting during the day. You can open your drapes and curtains to allow the light in.
Getting maximum natural light can help you cope with depression and keep mood swings at bay. Because mental health and sleep are linked, it’s no surprise that natural light has an impact on both. And at last, it helps to save the environment too.
38. Food swaps
The food swap movement is all about trading rather than buying. A food exchange is meant to be a more personal option to the commercial food market. Things that are portable, non-perishable, unique, and delicious are the best swap items.
Not only will participation in a food swap drive you to broaden your culinary horizons, but you’ll also be inspired to attempt new techniques by seeing what the other swappers prepare. You can meet various people who share your enthusiasm for homegrown food.
39. Put an end to unrequested mail
We all know the frustration of receiving advertisements and spam in the mail. All of these things waste a lot of energy in printing and transportation. What if we could stop them while also conserving energy and resources? This can be very well done by unsubscribing to these mailing lists.
You can send an email to companies that send you mail, such as credit card companies or monthly subscription services, requesting that they stop sending you mail or send digital receipts. This will help in decreasing carbon emissions. It also contributes to the decrease in paper consumption.
40. Prefer using cloth napkins over paper
When dirty, cloth napkins can be tossed into the washing machine for effortless cleaning. Paper napkins have to be thrown away, resulting in more waste on the planet. So you can tell which is the superior option — a cloth napkin, of course!
Since trees are cut down to manufacture paper napkins, they have an environmental impact. Cloth napkins may be used in a variety of ways for a long time. You may use cloth napkins to set the table, mop up spills and protect your clothes while eating.