Five Beginner’s Tips to Start Going Zero Waste

On my journey to become a minimalist, I am now concluding phase one with finishing cleaning out my house, simplifying my daily routines, and the beginning of my awareness of all the junk I buy. This organically came about when I was decluttering the house, because I became more and more aware every time I purchased something. With all my research, something that ended up coming hand-in-hand a lot of the time was a “no-waste” journey.

Almost four years ago, I was listening to a podcast about a no-waste lifestyle, and I got the idea to have only one plastic bag of trash for the month. Within a week, I needed a third plastic bag. All this to say, without proper research, I had attempted it all wrong. Because I hadn’t considered that a zero waste lifestyle was about using less, making better choices, and planning – not just about producing less trash. So as I transition into more of a zero waste lifestyle (sad to say I doubt I’ll ever be “zero” waste unless I take up organic farming), I’ve come up with some helpful tips to keep me going. Maybe you can implement one or two as well!

  1. Stop Buying & Bringing In Junk
    Junk is kind of my catchall word for stuff – but I think a lot of the stuff we buy ends up as junk. Even if you’re mindful about shopping, buying only items you really need, a lot of times those items are covered in layers of plastic packaging. Besides making sure I absolutely need what I’m about to buy, I’m also trying to buy less plastic. Even though I’ve been good at recycling for years, a lot of that is just trash, and therefore takes time and resources to break down. Mainly, I’ve stopped by last-minute treats and snacks in cafes and and (I’ll admit) gas stations. Bye packaged muffins, I’ll miss you.
  2. Use Up What You Already Have
    This means not just throwing away everything you have in excess or anything that’s in plastic bottles. It can be easy to want to “start fresh,” or get rid of anything that doesn’t immediately fit into a plastic-free, zero waste lifestyle. This is the opposite of what you wanna do! Try to use it all up, combine like items, or find new purposes. For me, that meant keeping a shampoo/conditioner set that I’m slowly getting through since it’s not my everyday favorite. But having a backup (that you already purchased) isn’t a terrible thing compared to sending it to a landfill.
  3. Shop Eco-Friendly Companies
    I love shopping locally, and this is a great way to already do more of finding an “eco-friendly” company because there’s no shipping (materials or transportation fuels). But you can also research and figure out which companies go out of their way to try and be more sustainable, practice environmentally friendly production, or even use recyclable materials. For me, that meant when I needed a new phone case because mine was falling apart, I found Pela, a company that makes 100% compostable cases. I also got their zero-waste screen protector, which was a liquid emulsifier I poured on my screen! I hope it works, but my boyfriend thinks I just poured fancy water on it.
  4. Thrift & Secondhand
    This you’ve heard about from me before, so I won’t go into too much more detail. Here’s some previous posts about why I love to thrift: Wear With Alicia. But 2019 is the year I’ve also decided to completely stop buying “fast fashion.” This means any clothing company that pushes out new clothing lines every week, aren’t held accountable for their factory practices or fair wages, or are just helping push overproduction clothing into the landfill – I will no longer support. It’ll be hard. I love TJ Maxx and Zara. But I (probably) love the earth more.
  5. Mindfulness = Preparation
    Going zero waste takes a lot of fore-thought. You have to be ready at all times, sometimes bringing along your own utensils, reusable bags, and travel mugs. I’ve been an avid fan of reusable bags since living in Austin, even got really excited when Dallas passed the no-plastic bag law (which lasted all of two months). Carrying around the other stuff is much harder – I just don’t have the purse space to carry around a picnic set at all times. I’m still working on setting up these “tools for success” as they say, so it’s all a learning process!

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