4 Easy Zero Waste for Beginners Tips
First things first, I’m not “zero waste”, far from it to be honest. I do, however, try to reduce the waste I produce as much as possible. I guess you could say I’m “low waste.” But let’s face it, “Zero Waste for Beginners” just sounds more catchy than “Low Waste for Beginners”. So because I’m not a hardcore zero waste person, I do understand the struggle and in this article, I’m gonna try to give practical first tips. This article is for all those who are new to the zero waste lifestyle and want some easy steps to reduce their waste.
Reusable Water Bottle
You might have heard, plastic bottles are bad – like… really bad. And if you think, “They’re not that bad since they can be recycled”, unfortunately, you’re wrong. In the United States, for example, 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown out every hour and only about 27% end up being recycled. That means about 1.8 million plastic bottles every hour are not recycled and could end up in landfills or the ocean.
So that’s why my number 1 tip for your zero waste beginner journey is: Get a reusable drinking bottle, and more importantly, use it. Get a bottle that you find pretty, so you actually want to take it with you wherever you go (even on holiday). I’ve had my bottle for years now and it travels with me wherever I go.
Don’t forget to check functionality too though. I have a non-thermal stainless steel bottle, which means it doesn’t keep my drinks cold or hot, but it’s lighter. What’s more important to you? That your drink stays cold in summer or that you don’t have to carry so much weight?
Reusable Shopping Bag
The statistics for single-use plastic bags look even grimmer than the ones for plastic bottles. Every hour 576 million plastic bags are used, for about 12 minutes on average and then thrown out. And only less than 1% ends up being recycled!
So for my second tip on the beginners zero waste guide: Bring your own cotton bag when you’re going shopping. This tip seems pretty obvious, and it is. The tricky part is to not forget the bag. You can place it next to the door or get one of those super tiny foldable ones and always keep it in your handbag/backpack.
The picture of my bag is from my time in Portugal when my shopping bag double-functioned as a beach bag.
Think Before You Shop
Think before you shop! This goes for all purchasable items. Are you really gonna use/wear/eat that?
In 2018, every American bought 68 pieces of clothing on average. Most of those clothes are being tossed out after being worn an average amount of seven times! This leads to 37kg of clothes being tossed, on average, every year by every American. Only about 14.7% of all textiles are recycled. So before you buy your next piece of clothing, ask yourself: Am I really gonna wear that? You can also consider buying clothes from a second-hand shop instead. Another good option is to organise a clothes exchange party with your friends (if your friends have roughly the same clothes size as you). Everybody can bring items they don’t wear and maybe they’re the perfect fit for someone else.
An unbelievable third of all the food Americans buy on average is wasted. To counteract that, check what you still have at home before going shopping. And check how to store food properly, especially fresh produce, so it lasts longer.
Check out Zero Waste Shops
Check online if there’s a zero waste shop near you. You can usually get all sorts of dry food products and different toiletries there as well. Generally, you can bring your own containers to a zero waste shop to fill them up. Just don’t forget to weigh the empty container in the shop first though. In case you forget to bring your own container, most zero waste shops offer paper bags. If there’s no zero waste shop where you live, there might be an organic shop or normal supermarket with a small zero waste counter to fill up on oats, pasta, etc.
Final Thoughts on Zero Waste for Beginners
The most important thing is, you don’t need to be perfect. Try not to get overwhelmed. Just start with a few small steps to reduce your waste. Hopefully, these four steps are easy enough to implement, so you can stick with them because consistency is important. If enough people do just that, together we can make a change.
Do you have any other tips for beginners in zero waste?
If you already incorporated the first basic steps towards a zero waste lifestyle, check out how you can make your bathroom more zero waste friendly.
I want to finish with an old quote, which may or may not have been said by Mahatma Gandhi. Either way, I think it’s very applicable to the zero waste lifestyle: Be the change you want to see in the world!
Thank you so much for sharing! My husband and I are downsizing & moving into a tiny home. My goal is to be more intentional with our waste. This is an excellent starting point. Thanks for sharing!
I’m glad you liked it. Moving into a tiny house sounds amazing!
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Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that 🙂
I absolutely love wasteless pantry it’s saved me so much on receipes and zero waste. That’s such a shocking statistic on plastic bags and had no idea. Super conscious of going more low waste so thank you 🙏 I learnt something new
To be honest I was quite shocked about those statistics as well. I didn’t know the exact numbers before researching for this article.