12 Easy Ways to Start Your Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Living a zero-waste lifestyle isn't as hard as it sounds. Dip your toes into the sustainable movement with these easy zero-waste options.

Published February 6, 2024

Heading to the gym and eating healthier are always at the top of people’s New Year’s resolutions lists. But trying a zero-waste lifestyle hardly makes the cut, despite how much easier it is than starting a brand new habit from scratch. After all, going zero waste doesn’t mean you have to revamp your entire life! Starting small with easy zero-waste swaps is a great way to dip your toes into the practice.

Make Your Own Paper Out of Scraps


If you’re a shredding machine and you’re throwing tons of junk paper in the trash every week, why not make something usable out of it? With a paper screen, some water, a blender, and scrap paper you can make your own recycled pieces of paper. The process is pretty simple, and heathersteckler on TikTok has a great tutorial you should try.

Use Bar Shampoos & Conditioners


By now, we all know the dangers of single-use plastic, and it's one area you can focus on reducing in your home to reach that zero waste goal. There are several beauty brands you can use that sell shampoo, conditioner, soaps, moisturizers, and more in bar form. So long as the packaging is recyclable, these products are extremely low-waste when compared to the plastic bottled ones.

Swap Out Disposable Razors for a Reusable One


We all love a little convenience, and disposable razors are highly convenient if not a bad environmental decision. Make a better one by swapping out your disposable razor for a safety razor instead. Safety razors are usually made of a metal handle and a razor head you can unscrew to fit a new razor blade inside.

While you will need to dispose of the blades, you can go through far less waste with a safety razor than with a disposable one.

Buy Bulk Bin Ingredients at the Grocery Store


Unfortunately, we still haven’t reached a point where every grocery store has bulk bin ingredients. Step out of the big box mindset and investigate your area for smaller shops that might offer these alternatives. Buying loose ingredients instead of pre-packaged ones can help you cut down on excess waste. You shouldn’t have too many leftovers that get thrown away and there’s no packaging that you have to dispose of.

Compost Your Food Scraps


Composting has been a zero-waste alternative for centuries. Help cultivate a thriving garden by putting your scraps back into it. With just a few scraps and the right know-how, you can create a symbiotic cycle where your plants feed themselves off the harvest they produce.

Make Onion Powder Out of Onion Peels


Onions are an integral part of many recipes. And no matter how much you need for the dish, there’s always some papery peelings left over. Put them to good use by making your own onion powder out of them.

Carleigh Bodrug’s TikTok account is full of interesting kitchen hacks like this one. Watch her break down how you can dehydrate and grind those onion peels into homemade onion powder.

Related: 10 Sustainable Living Ideas: Small Changes With Big Impact

Switch to Menstrual Cups


Menstrual cups aren’t as new of a technology as people think. Our ancestors used rudimentary plugging devices for both menstruation and birth control, and the modern menstrual cup has revamped this trend among zero-waste communities.

Stay low-waste while you menstruate with these washable, reusable menstrual cups in place of single-use tampons or pads.

Use Fabric Scraps to Wrap Presents


If you’re a crafter, then you probably end up with loads of fabric scraps at the end of your finished projects. Instead of tossing them into a bottomless bin to deal with at some point in the future, use them to wrap your gifts.

There are so many uniquely decorative ways you can wrap gifts using fabric. Why not make your holiday giving more sustainable? You’ve got nothing to lose.

Save & Press Old Tissue Paper for Future Gifts


Take a page out of your Depression-era family member’s rule book and save any tissue paper you get. Each crinkled sheet can be used multiple times when you take care of it correctly. The best way to make your tissue paper last long term is by storing it pressed flat. This will help smooth it out so you can manipulate it in any future presents without risking it tearing.

Use Reusable Cotton Rounds to Remove Makeup


There’s only one rule for makeup wearers, and that’s to wash your face before you go to bed. This nightly routine often involves single-use makeup remover wipes, which are terrible for the environment. Part ways with these eco-unfriendly products and switch to reusable cotton rounds instead.

Find a micellar water or facial cleanser that works with your skin and use these cotton rounds just like you would a makeup wipe. Toss them in your weekly wash, and you’ll save a ton of money and future waste.

Save Glass Sauce Jars for Drinkware


Glass sauce jars are zero-waste products just waiting to be tagged in. When you’ve thoroughly cleaned them, you can use them as aesthetic drinking glasses, to store stock and other leftovers, for canning purposes, or even to organize some of your household items.

Sure, you can recycle them, but reusing them instead is an even more zero-waste option.

Thrift Furniture Whenever Possible


Furniture is massively expensive and a big waste product when you want to part with it. Instead of buying cheap Ikea furniture left and right, invest in high-quality thrifted stuff instead. Furniture from a hundred years ago was built much more sturdily than anything on the market today, so you’ll get the best bang for your buck in the end anyway.

Look to swap meets or local marketplaces when you’re trying to get rid of something to make space for your new (old) stuff. This keeps the spirit of zero waste living alive.

Zero Waste Living Isn't as Difficult as It Sounds


Living a zero-waste lifestyle sounds scary. When you start quantifying just how many packages and single-use stuff you throw away, you may feel that guilt demon crawling up your spine and taking hold. Don’t let shame for your past behaviors stop you from giving zero-waste living a try. Remember that no one’s perfect and even one low-waste change can make a difference.

12 Easy Ways to Start Your Zero-Waste Lifestyle