A Simple Guide to Help You Transition to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

The idea of a zero-waste lifestyle has become increasingly popular in recent years. It entails aiming to generate no more waste to save the planet. How does this work? Well, all the trash that humans generate ends up in landfills. These huge dumpsites are incredibly harmful to the environment. On the one hand, they contaminate the soil. On the other hand, they significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions. That, in turn, contributes to global warming. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to reverse the damage already caused. Nevertheless, we can try to minimize future damage by following zero-waste trends and incorporating them into our lives. Here’s a simple guide to help you transition to a zero-waste lifestyle.

Protester promoting the transition to a zero-waste lifestyle

1. Inspecting your waste

That might sound a bit gross, but you need to inspect your trash to identify your waste habits. That enables you to determine where most of your waste comes from. For example, if you mainly generate food waste, then it’s time to make a change in this department. Specifically, you should find ways to shop smart and not buy too much. A good solution here would be to plan your meals for the entire week and buy only the ingredients you need to prepare them.

2. Make compost

A great way to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle is to make compost. Composting is a natural process through which you recycle food waste and other organic materials and turn it into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Firstly, this enables you to minimize and eliminate food waste. Secondly, it’s a great way to eliminate other types of waste, such as sawdust, wood chips, grass trimmings, and even small pieces of paper and cardboard.

compost box and some food waste on a table

Composting is a great way to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle

3. Buy less processed foods

Apart from shopping smart to avoid food waste, you should also aim to buy less processed foods. That is beneficial not only for your health but the environment as well. Specifically, it helps you generate less plastic waste. This is because most processed foods come in plastic packaging, while fresh food doesn’t.

Of course, grocery stores usually provide plastic bags for these products. But you can easily avoid using them by bringing reusable grocery bags and containers. At the same time, if you need to buy processed foods, look for those that come in glass or aluminum containers. As opposed to plastic, these materials are entirely recyclable.

To generate less plastic waste, you should buy more fresh food and use reusable bags and containers when shopping

4. Always recycle

Recycling is the process of turning waste into reusable materials and products. As a result, recycling saves energy and natural resources,  reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and shrinks landfills. One way to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle is to correctly sort your trash and use recycling bins. However, you should do some research first. Because if you don’t do it right, you’ll make it much harder for recycling facilities to do their job.

Four recycle bins of different colors

To transition to a zero-waste lifestyle, you should always recycle.

5. Avoid single-use items

Single-use items generate a tremendous amount of waste and pollute the environment. Thus, you should do your best to avoid or minimize their use. These items include everything from paper towels and tissues to plastic bottles. You might view these as essentials, but you can easily replace them with reusable items. For example, you can use washable kitchen towels and handkerchiefs. And you can opt for a thermos or sports bottle instead of a single-use water bottle. That is not only eco-friendly but will also help you save money.

6. Reuse packing materials

Most of the household items you buy come in cardboard boxes. Your first instinct is to throw them away to eliminate the clutter. Nevertheless, you should resist this urge because old packing materials can be beneficial. For instance, let’s say you want to go green in your storage unit. In this case, reusing packing materials is one of the most efficient ways to make them sustainable; specifically, you can use old cardboard boxes to organize your belongings instead of investing in plastic containers.

7. Buy second-hand and donate

Whether you need to update your wardrobe or redecorate your home, you should consider shopping in a thrift store. You’ll find everything from clothes to furniture at a meager cost here. That is not only good for your finances but also the environment. More precisely, it reduces waste by reusing old items and materials. As for the items you want to get rid of, you can either sell or donate them to avoid generating waste. That mostly depends on their current condition and value.

8. Go digital

Everything you receive by mail generates paper waste. That includes utility bills, various invoices, newspapers, magazines, etc. So, it’s time to go digital if you want to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle. You only have to contact your providers and tell them you wish to receive all correspondence via email. The same goes for newspapers and magazines that are now available online.

9. Look for a zero-waste community

The zero-waste movement is becoming more and more popular by the day. As a result, you’ll find zero-waste communities all around the globe. These groups can provide you with precious information and valuable suggestions to make the transition easier. Therefore, you should look for and join a local or online zero-waste community.

In conclusion

Given how harmful landfills are to the environment, reducing waste should become a priority worldwide because landfills are harmful to the environment. Unfortunately, as individuals, we don’t have the power to change international environmental laws. However, we can help protect the environment by changing our lifestyle. Going zero waste is a great solution, but it can be hard to achieve. So, use this simple guide to help you transition to a zero-waste lifestyle and go from there. Once you get used to it, you’ll realize it’s not that hard.

Zero Waste Trends to Watch

Most people have heard about concepts such as single-stream recycling, but there’s another approach known as zero waste. People who support the concept of zero waste agree that, in a broader sense, it means reducing dependence on landfills and increasing reliance on material recovery facilities. But, after that, the definition varies primarily based on industries, manufacturers and even entire countries.

Even so, there are inspiring trends that show how people and companies are working hard to reduce the amount of waste produced, thereby getting ever closer to that desirable zero benchmark. Below are some of the major trends taking place across the world in the field of zero waste:


More Reusable Packaging

We live in a world where it’s possible to order almost anything online and have it quickly arrive on a doorstep — sometimes the same day a person placed the order. And, society loves the convenience, but the dependence on delivered products causes an increase in packaging materials.

It is often astounding how many packing peanuts, layers of bubble wrap and cardboard cartons come with the things we buy. And, the manufacturers and shipping companies consistently bring up how boxes get dropped or otherwise mishandled during transit, making the extraordinary amounts of protective packaging products necessary.


Packaging that adorns your product can have serious environmental impact.

On a positive note, a company called Limeloop makes a shipping envelope designed from recycled billboard wrapping people can reuse thousands of times. Another company called Returnity communicates with distributors to urge them to use the establishment’s boxes and envelopes, both of which people can rely on dozens of times instead of throwing them away after single uses.

If you are a business looking to adopt eco-friendly practices, you should read this article on green packaging methods.

Ceramic Mugs in British Coffee Shops

In some regions of the world, customers who visit coffee shops don’t get asked whether they’ll be drinking their coffee on site or taking it with them to go. However, many leading coffee shops in the United Kingdom find out that detail from customers who order drinks, then serve the beverages in non-disposable mugs to people who’ll enjoy their purchases on the spot.

Also, all 950 Starbucks locations in Great Britain recently began charging customers five cents for getting their drinks in disposable cups. Conversely, it rewards them by taking 25 cents off the costs of their orders when they bring reusable cups into the stores.

Creative Ways to Cut Down on Farm Waste

Manure (or fertilizer) is a reality on farms around the world. And, the commercially bought versions of it contribute to excessive waste and inflated costs. Some even harm future growth when farmers apply manure too heavily and negatively affect the soil’s balance.

But, besides avoiding commercially-sold manure and not applying it excessively if used, what else can people in the agriculture sector do to make farm waste more manageable? They can look for unique outlets that may want to buy it.


One startup uses a detailed manure-refining process to extract the cellulose from cow dung. Business representatives then use the cellulose — a byproduct from the grass and corn cows eat — for a new kind of fabric.

What about using animal waste for energy? A forward-thinking farmer did that with his manure lagoons, making them produce biogas that powers homes.

These unusual solutions highlight unconventional use cases for animal droppings, such as poultry litter, that support zero-waste goals, provided farmers want to explore them.

An Uptick in Reusable Food Containers

People often pack their lunches in plastic containers before heading off to work, but when they get food delivered or pick it up from a provider to eat at home later, the associated containers usually fill up garbage cans after people chow down.

Some facilities are trying to change that. At The University of California Merced campus, a pilot program occurred where students who stopped by dining halls for meals to take away brought reusable containers with them. After people ate the food from them, they could return them to get washed and ready for future meals.

Moreover, a pizza restaurant in Wales provides an aluminum box for people to use again and again when taking their pies home. One of the problems with cardboard pizza containers is they can’t be recycled when contaminated with grease. However, people can buy the metal ones for a small, one-time fee.

Opt for reusable containers for food and beverages

Then, by using them, they get 50-cent discounts on their pizza. The restaurant also backs the boxes with a lifetime guarantee and will replace them for no charge if necessary due to breakage or damage. Also, because metal conducts heat, the material helps pizza stay hotter for longer than it would in cardboard boxes.

Innovations to Complement Commitment

Adhering to a zero waste lifestyle undoubtedly requires dedication and a willingness to look beyond old habits. However, for people who show those characteristics, numerous inventions and improvements make it easier to do away with the throw-away culture.