6 Steps to Take Before Trying a Zero Waste Lifestyle


We have a problem, and it’s a problem with trash.  On average, people in the U.S. produce about 4.5 pounds of trash per person per day. Given the seven billion people on the planet, that’s simply too much. Our planet can’t sustain this kind of waste.

Each individual has to take responsibility. It is not only possible to reduce the amount you and your family throw away, it’s easy! Plenty of options will help you live less wastefully, and most of them require little effort.

Avoid Single-Use Items

People use many items once and then toss them: Grocery bags, disinfectant wipes, diapers, straws, plastic utensils, paper towels and more. These items are incredibly wasteful, but very profitable. Things like straws can be manufactured in another country, packed onto a ship, moved to another county, packed onto a truck and driven to their final destination.

Just making and transporting the materials uses up an incredible amount of resources, and their lifespan is maybe 30 minutes for a meal! There’s no reason to pay money for something like that.

Get Re-Useable Items

Single-use items are extremely useful, but getting rid of them doesn’t mean you have to give them up entirely. Plenty of options are available for reusable products, like cloth diapers, glass straws and non-paper towels. You can even make your own disinfecting solution to use on cloth wipes. These items are no more trouble than washcloths, and they end up saving you money in the long term.

Try Composting

If you really can’t eat all of your food, you don’t have to toss it. The problem with throwing food into the garbage isn’t that it’s food. It’s that it might not decompose at the landfill. In order for decomposition to happen, oxygen has to be able to get to the item. Once food gets covered by enough other stuff, oxygen can’t get to it anymore, so it can’t break down.

Plus, since a lot of that “stuff” in landfills is plastic, there’s a good chance it may never break down! Toss that leftover rice in a pile in your yard, or try an indoor composter. Even if you don’t have a garden, you probably have a local community garden that would be happy to make use of it!

Buy Secondhand Clothes

Thrift stores are trendy, which is actually amazing! Americans have something of a clothing obsession. In 2014, Americans spent about $1,700 a piece on clothes alone. With people continually donating their old clothes in favor of the latest fashions, you can easily find things that have never been worn, or have only been worn once or twice.

Every item you can buy used not only saves you money, but also cuts down on the materials needed to make and transport clothes. If you’re buying from secondhand stores, make sure you’re donating to them as well. After all, what goes around, comes around!

Try DIY Cleaners

You’ll need to make a purchase for some things, but you’d be amazed how much of your home you can clean with food items. Vinegar is incredibly useful, and can clean and sanitize everything from windows and kitchen counters to your floors.

Olive oil makes for an amazing wood polish, and baking soda works wonders on stained clothes. These are items that you’re buying for cooking anyway, so it makes sense to use them for cleaning as well.

Break Bad Habits

Bad habits make trash. Takeout food tends to come in Styrofoam, and just think about how many cigarette butts are left lying around everywhere! Takeout food is a pretty simple habit to break, so long as you make a dedication to practice cooking.

A habit like smoking, however, is likely to be a little harder. You can talk to your doctor about quitting, but there are over-the-counter products. E-cigarettes can be a great tool in quitting. They even come in different strengths, in order to help people who smoke more or less. This habit is something you can beat!

We’ve gotten ourselves into a bad situation on this planet, but it’s not hopeless. If everyone can pitch in and do their part, plenty of Earth remains to be saved. Some of these changes might be harder to make than others, but they’re all worth it. Our planet is worth it.