If the thought of going low-waste — let alone zero-waste — seems overwhelming to you, you’re not alone.
Where do you even start? How do you manage to get all your grocery items without plastic packaging? What if you’re at a coffee shop and forgot your reusable mug at home?
While the thought of going low-waste may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be hard. By making small, mindful changes, you can begin to reduce plastic use in your daily life ( and during the holidays!).
(Re)Use What You Already Have
One of the biggest mistakes people make when going low-waste is that they over-consume and go on shopping sprees for loads of new items. Or worse, they throw out what they already have even though it’s perfectly usable.
Don’t go on a zero-waste shopping spree and buy a heap of brand new glass jars if you already have containers at home you can use to store your food.
Buy mindfully, and intentionally. (Re)Use what you have, and only buy new zero-waste items if you truly need them.
While everyone loves takeout and sometimes you just don’t have the energy to meal prep, it’s great to cook at home using fresh produce and other mindfully chosen goods if you have the time.
When possible, you can grab fresh produce at your local farmers market. It usually comes without single-use plastic packaging that’s meant to be tossed away — helping reduce waste. For items that come pre-packed, choose bulk items when possible. This reduces the amount of waste compared to buying multiple smaller packages.
Cooking fresh at home gives you more nutrients, helps reduce waste over time — and what’s more, you can toss your food scraps in the compost bin!
Choose Recycled and Environmentally Mindful Options
Opt for recycled options when possible. This isn’t just limited to paper, however — lean for recycled:
- Fibers in clothing items
- And other available options when possible
If you can’t find recycled options, look for ones that are more environmentally friendly. Bamboo, for example, is fast-growing, creates more oxygen than trees, and is an incredible renewable resource. It can be used to make everything including toilet paper ( we love the brand "Who Gives a Crap" as they give 50% of their profit to charities that provide toilets to communities in need world wide, they are amazing!), bed sheets, jewelry, and more.
Food scraps and yard waste account for over 30% of what we toss in the trash, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Those are valuable sources of nutrients that can be returned to the earth — they can fertilize land, help beneficial bacteria and fungi bloom, and lower carbon emissions. If you have the opportunity to compost, we strongly encourage it!
Compost items that you can, and recycle other items like aluminum, cardboard, plastic, and glass when possible.
Say “No” To Single Use Plastic
It seems like no matter where you go, you’re always being given plastic bags, silverware, and more single-use items that are meant to be quickly tossed away.
Say no to cheaply made, single-use products — and choose sustainable, reusable options instead.
One simple low-waste swap you can make is to carry a reusable tote and produce bags. Or start asking for your morning coffee in a reusable mug instead of getting a branded paper cup from the shop each day.
If you get takeout, pass on the plastic cutlery and use the silverware you already have at home.
Celebrate Small Wins
Remember: low-waste isn’t a race. It’s all about making small, mindful changes when you can.
When you’re empowered by little changes — like bringing your reusable tote to the grocery store and dropping off your first batch of home compost at a community garden site — it helps paint the bigger picture of a more beautiful planet.
Be patient with the transition, and celebrate each win — no matter how big or small!