Zero Waste 101

Guide to Living a Low Waste Life

A Beginner’s Guide to Living a Low Waste Life

Zero waste is a movement started in the late 1990s and early 2000s that is now sparking change across the globe. Zero waste is a lifestyle free of as much trash as possible. Many boast only having a mason jar full of trash after one full year. While this is very unobtainable for some, there are steps that everyone can take to produce less trash in their day to day lives.

Take a look into your garbage can. What do you see?

Do you see food waste? Paper towels? Plastic cups? How many single-use items do you see? By reducing your usage of single-waste items, you can make a big difference in climate change and our global plastic crisis. You don’t need to be perfect, as making zero trash is impossible for some, but every small effort counts. These six items below are perfect switches you can make as a beginner to a low waste lifestyle

1. Reusable Water Bottle/Mug

How often do you pick up a plastic water bottle or coffee cup at the coffee shop? Eliminate these toxic plastic cups and switch to an all-purpose reusable bottle or mug. Most coffee shops welcome reusable cups and will even give you a discount for using one. Starbucks offers a 10 cent discount every time you bring your own cup in. Simply take the lid off, hand it to them at the counter and voila! You now have a plastic-free beverage to enjoy.

If you prefer to have separate cups for separate beverages, you can invest in a reusable water bottle and a travel mug for on the go beverages!

2. Dryer Balls

Ditch your single-use dryer sheets and opt for dryer balls instead. Dryer balls, usually made from wool, are designed to reduce static, lower drying time and last up to 5 years. Dryer balls also have no toxic fragrance added; many choose to add specifically designed essential oils as a scent booster instead. Simply throw the balls into your dryer load like you would a dryer sheet and reuse again and again for years.

If you want to save electricity, money and the planet, dry air drying your clothes when possible. Air drying is the best possible way to dry your clothes and it extends the life of them. Double win!

3. Reusable On the Go Cutlery + Straws

Do you go out to eat frequently or always grab food to go? Say no to single-use plastic cutlery and straws. Many restaurants automatically give all of their customers straws and cutlery, but the next time you’re at the register, tell the cashier you won’t need any of those items. Instead, bring your own set of utensils and a straw (if needed). Even drive-thrus will honor your request if you kindly ask for no utensils in your order.

You don’t need to go out and purchase a fancy reusable travel cutlery set, although you can if you would like. The most sustainable option is to grab a fork from your set at home before you leave the house. Once the fork is used, wipe it off, throw it in your bag and wash it when you arrive home. No waste here!

4. Reusable Terra Thread Pouches

Do you frequently use ziplock bags? Ditch that toxic plastic and switch to Terra Thread organic cotton pouches instead. Terra Thread’s pouches are perfect for cosmetics, snacks, pencils and on the go traveling. You can even stick your reusable cutlery in these to keep it safe and germ-free. Terra Thread offers multiple size and color options to suit all of your Fair Trade pouch needs.

Shop Terra Thread pouches here:

5. Reusable Grocery and Produce BagsThe average American uses one plastic bag per day, and these bags never fully biodegrade, often ending up polluting our oceans and wildlife. Switching to reusable grocery bags is the easiest switch you can make, as these bags are sold at almost any big box store as well as many small retailers. Reusable grocery bags are designed to last you for years when taken care of, eliminating the need for thousands of plastic bags. If you’re in a pinch, any reusable bag will do as a grocery bag, it doesn’t need to specifically be a grocery bag.

In addition to reusable grocery bags, ditch the plastic bags in the produce section too. Not only are they unnecessary (you should be washing your produce despite using a bag), but these bags too also don’t ever quite break down. Switch to reusable produce bags or simply opt to put your fruits and veggies in your cart bag free. If you do use reusable produce bags, make it easy for your cashier. Don’t mix a ton of produce in one bag and don’t close them until you have paid for your product.

6. Bamboo Toothbrush

All the toothbrushes you have used in your life still exist on the planet today and will for several hundred more years. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush for more sustainable brushing. While the bristles on most bamboo toothbrushes must go in the landfill, the bamboo handles can be repurposed, reused or composted in your backyard. Use the handles as markers in your vegetable garden!

What zero waste swaps have you incorporated into your life? Tell us in the comments below!

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