Today we finally talk about low waste tips for beginners, but really, anyone can implement these eco-living tips! It took me so long to make this post because really the whole premise of my whole channel is to prove that zero waste is easy, zero waste is free, and it can be for ANYONE!
Let's just jump right in!
Tips/Things to Remember
Don’t stress the aesthetics
Zero waste can be ugly and that’s okay. It’s about what is easy and accessible to you. If that’s a perfectly curated glass bulk jar collection, cool. If that’s upcycled jars and plastic totes that still have labels on them, cool!
It’s not really about ZERO waste
It’s about doing your best. This term was coined for corporations, not individuals. It’s impossible for us to produce zero waste as we have to consume things to survive
Do what you can
Progress over perfection! If you can give up meat but you can’t give up bottled water, that’s amazing. If you can start riding your bike to work but still have to fly sometimes, good for you, that’s okay. Don’t stress not being able to meet every internet expectation. Doing your best is what matters
Don’t focus on others
I have to admit, I get caught up in this too. I see others giving up flying and I can’t it is easy to get discouraged. But, it’s important to know that we are all on our own journeys, living in different places in the world with different schedules and different financial means. Do what you can!
Your small changes really do make a big impact
Our voices and actions matter. It might seem meaningless to give up meat or plastic once or twice, but think about how if you quit eating red meat that adds up over your entire life. Imagine if you encourage others to change too. These actions add up and have a big impact even on the individual level
But, we’re not the only problem
Companies over the past several decades have gotten really good at blaming us. Yes, what we purchase does drive what they make and sell, but they aren’t offering us alternatives. We get what we get on the shelves. We need to pressure them into using better ingredients, better packing materials, better means of manufacturing and shipping. If we had greener options on the shelves, going zero waste would be so much easier for us and that starts with production
It’s about baby steps on a journey, not an immediate dive into this lifestyle
If today you can only remember to turn lights off when you leave the room, that’s a great first step. You don’t have to drop everything, go vegan, quit flying, and buy all the zero waste swaps to be a conscious consumer and conscious resident of the earth. Baby steps are great and help one not to get burnt out and frustrated at this lifestyle
It can be free!
I have a full playlist of free ways to live low waste as well as a lot of free resources on my website to include a list of other YouTubers, bloggers, podcasts, and movies to watch and a free guide on how to live zero waste at home. You don’t have to buy all the swaps or buy anything. It can be free!
You don’t need a label
You don’t have to go around saying “I’m a zero waster” or anything like that. I only use the term because that is what people are searching or else I wouldn’t use it either. You can just live your happy eco life without using any labels
Don’t give up on things you love!
Sustainable doesn’t just mean for the planet, it has to be sustainable for you too. What I mean is, if you love frozen berries in plastic for smoothies and you love to paint and you love crocheting, don’t give that stuff up just because it’s wasteful. If it brings you joy, it’s not a waste. If it’s something you use and cherish, it’s not waste. If you give up everything you love you’re going to hate this lifestyle
Zero Waste Swaps and Habits for Beginners
Reduce your meat consumption. You don’t have to go vegan but one vegan day a week one vegan meal a day really has a huge impact. Reducing our meat intake is one of the easiest things we can do as individuals that make one of the biggest impacts
Buy second hand. If you don’t have a thrift store in your area, there are so many online thrift stores these days. You can even buy and donate your old goods too. What good does this do? It creates a circular economy by keeping things out of the landfill and preventing new materials from being extracted and created into new things by consuming things that have already been made
Learn how to recycle properly! Wishcycling is the act of recycling anything and everything so you don’t feel guilty about throwing it away instead. It might also be putting things in the wrong bins or recycling dirty things. Basically, it’s bad and one reason our recycling rate is so low. So, instead, recycle properly by cleaning out your recycling and sometimes putting stuff in the trash instead so that it doesn’t mess up the whole batch. I have two videos now about what not to recycle, a video about surprising things you can recycle, and other recycling videos as well
Don’t buy jars, just upcycle the ones you already have. I’m sure we all purchase things in glass such as peanut butter, jelly, pickles, bbq sauce, or whatever else. Clean these jars and reuse them. Now, you have free storage and these items get more life out of them.
Swap the big four: plastic bags, utensils, water bottles, and coffee cups. These are the four most commonly used single-use items so this is where I always tell beginners to start. Get some reusable bags (you can find these second-hand as well or make them), reusable cutlery (thrift an extra pair to save some money), a water bottle, and a coffee cup. For these cups, I recommend double-walled stainless steel as they will last a longggg time and keep your drinks hot and cold.
Bamboo toothbrush. This is easily one of the cheapest and easiest swaps. Other swaps like hankies or bidets are a bit weird and take some getting used to. Bamboo toothbrushes are essentially the same as your plastic ones but these ones are made out of a sustainable plant and will actually break down at the end of their lives
Download Ecosia, the eco browser. This is a completely free phone app or computer extension. When you use it, it works like Google but with a positive catch: a tree is planted for every search! Why not use this absolutely free swap to live more eco-friendly and help the planet?
Try to shop less plastic during your next grocery trip. It might be easier than you think. Instead of getting prepackaged oranges or apples, get unpackaged ones. Instead of rice or noodles in a bag, try a box. This small habit/swap is very easy, usually little to no cost difference (maybe even cheaper), and will save so much unrecyclable waste over time.
Shampoo bars! They might seem pricey upfront but they generally last as long as 2-4 bottles. So, you’re saving money, saving so much plastic, and bottles are heavy since shampoo is mostly water anyway.
Homemade all-purpose cleaner. This swap is super simple. I have a full recipe linked here, but in short, you are going to repurpose orange peels by soaking them in white vinegar for a few weeks and then diluting them with a little water. This works on all surfaces. I use it in the bathroom, on tough stove grime, and even for mopping and it’s completely free!
I hope these tips, swaps, and habits were helpful and encourage you to start your low waste journey or even offered you new tips for your already established journey. Thank you so much for reading along, be sure to subscribe for more tips!
As always, remember that your small changes have a big impact in the long run :)