Going Green: 45 Tips To Start A Zero-Waste JourneyBy Aakash M
Every household has its share of garbage bags. We all collect trash throughout the week, and we need a way to get rid of it. Every year, we dump more than two billion tons of trash in landfills. This includes construction, industrial, and household waste.
Sadly, 99% of the things you purchase will become trash within six months of purchasing them. That explains why our society produces so much trash.
And that’s also why some people are deeply concerned about our planet’s condition. Lots of people are now dedicating their entire lives to limiting their impact on our planet and reducing the waste production. In fact, there’s a subreddit, Zero Waste, that has over 875,000 people searching for and sharing ways to minimize their impact on Earth.
In case you’re interested in leading a zero-waste lifestyle, here are 45 amazing tips and tricks shared in this group that can help you reduce your plastic and carbon footprint.
Sewed them to safety
The beach bags in this picture are actually made using old shower curtains! Instead of throwing them out, this person sewed them into something useful. It shows that you can transform anything into a useful product. You just need to give it some thought and apply your skills.
They could have thrown the curtains away and simultaneously bought new bags, but we’re really glad that they found another way. To be honest, we think they look better than ones that are professionally manufactured. They saved a lot of money without compromising on the quality.
The image below is that of a measuring glass, but do you know was before that? It was a bottle of Aldi’s spaghetti sauce priano! We would never have guessed that. We really appreciate the skill of the person behind it.
More than skill, it also requires a keen eye for detail. After looking at this, we’ll surely be saving all our jars because they all could be put into great use with just a little bit of tweaking and customization.
Here’s the story behind this: once, a guy ordered some seedlings from an online nursery. To his surprise, they didn’t arrive in plastic bags, which was a blessing! You can see how wonderful the seedlings have become with just some time and nurturing.
If we knew the name of this company, we’d surely be supporting it and sharing it with our friends. It’s a shame that most gardening places sell their products in plastic packaging. Compostable seedling packaging is the perfect way to kickstart your compost!
Cute and eco-friendly
This is a very innovative take on the issue of food waste. Why didn’t we ever think of this? Meet this cute hamster, who’s a zero waste specialist. Thanks to this guy, no vegetable scraps in this family ever make it to the bin!
So, not only does this family have a really cute, and furry friend to give them company, but they also have a responsible family member who manages their waste! Here’s where it gets better — he’s not alone! He has a partner, though his buddy is a bit camera-shy.
The store that everybody needs
We bet this store is famous in its city, not because it’s a big brand name, but because of the steps it is taking to reduce packaging waste. This store is located in Poland, and let us tell you, it’s an inspiration for shops all over the world.
Instead of buying frozen veggies and dumplings in plastic packaging, customers can select and weigh what they want to buy. In stores like these, you can even bring your own container, reducing your waste even further! Better yet, it allows you to only buy what you need.
This cafe is located in Anglesea in Victoria, Australia. We really appreciate their creativity and effort to reduce their waste. As you can see, they are making good use of milk cartons by using them again as cup trays to serve takeout beverages!
If not executed properly, this upcycled tray would look like a sloppy mess. But, clearly, the owners know what they’re doing and managed to turn their milk cartons into a stylish takeout tray. We’ll be suggesting this idea to our local cafes.
Containers between generations
We don’t need to tell you about the value of reusing Christmas ornaments, but the packages are problematic. The containers that you see in this image have a history. The parents of the person who clicked this photo have been using them as Christmas ornament cases for many years now.
They seem like the perfect fit, right? Nope, they didn’t buy Christmas ornament boxes. Originally, their grandparents used them to ship apples to their parents. These containers will probably be passed on to the next generation. How cool is that?
Sadly, starting December 26th, many people dispose of their Christmas trees. So, one year, two entrepreneurs started renting Christmas trees to reduce the number of lush evergreens that end up in the landfill each year. So, how do they do it if the trees have already been cut down?
Every January, they replant the trees on their farm. And, because they’re replanted, you can rent the same tree again next Christmas. But wait, it gets better. When your tree grows 7ft tall, it’s planted back in its original forest.
Happy birthday to you
There’s a saying that fits perfectly for this situation, “It’s the little things that make the biggest differences.” The picture you’re looking at is a birthday card that has been sent back and forth between two brothers since 1973! That’s an efficient way to reuse something.
Jeff and Ron have been forwarding the same card for almost 50 years now. There’s just a simple birthday wish that’s even written on the card — don’t throw it away. They took it literally and made sure to write small enough to leave space for their names in the years to come.
Check out Lego’s innovative packaging. This is what you call a smart move. When huge companies like Lego step up and start making such changes, it inspires others to do something about the waste they produce in their own lives.
Lego is not only working to reduce the plastic usage in their toys, but they’re also packaging their trademark bricks in non-plastic containers. We still have a long way to go before we completely eliminate plastic, but we appreciate every step along the way.
Reusing for the win
You can’t show up to someone’s house empty-handed. But how do you bring food without using a disposable container or demanding they return your Tupperware? To solve this, a woman bought vintage casserole dishes whenever she saw them at yard sales or thrift shops.
If you know where to look, they might be cheaper than disposables. And they’re definitely more durable. Now, whenever she brings a meal to a friend’s house, they can keep the container and even pass it on to someone else.
Good use of study notes
After you graduated, what happened to your school notes? This person made their unused notes into something unexpected and useful — a waste basket. This is probably something that every student should consider doing after their exams or after they graduate school.
It’s way better than dumping your notes. Even if you save your notes, there will come a point when you’ll run out of space, and you have to get rid of them. Or, maybe you’ll just forget them while moving, which is the same!
A brave decision
This coffee store is doing wonders in terms of reducing its carbon footprint. Located in Kent, UK, this shop has decided to only serve those customers who bring their own coffee cups to the store! They are doing it to reduce their usage of disposable cups.
But, they also know that just putting up a poster asking people to bring their cups won’t spread the message. So, they have filled their store floor with disposable cups to show why they’re doing it. We bet customers won’t forgotten that scene.
Healthy ice cream
We all love having a cup of ice cream on a hot summer day. There’s already an easy way to reduce your plastic — get a cone and don’t use a spoon. But what if you need a cup? Well, this person found a shop in India that uses banana leaves to serve ice cream!
Banana leaves are widely used in India, from packaging to plates and placemats. Although they’ve been doing this long before the global push to reduce single-use products, we still applaud such creative solutions. We can’t tell if this is cooler than the cups made of dried fruit leather. What do you think?
DIY dog toy
We are certainly not saying that dog toys are bad, but they’re not always eco-friendly. Dog toys are costly, and some pups have a tendency to tear them up in a day. And, sadly, there’s not much that can be done with them, other than throwing them in the trash.
This dog owner recognized the problem and came up with this solution. Using leftover denim — from hemming jeans — they braided a DIY dog toy! That will save you some good money and also help get rid of fabric scraps!
It doesn’t always take much to make people more aware of the current conditions plaguing our planet. Small signs like these actually go a long way in helping Earth. It’s high time that every coffee shop reduced its usage of paper cups.
But not everybody is on board with bringing their own mug. The solution? Have recycled mugs for customers who forget their own cups! They even encourage people to donate their unused mugs. This could be a great city-wide “scheme” between multiple cafes.
A dream come true
You are looking at an organized, well-maintained, and aesthetically pleasing zero-waste pantry, then look no further. This Redditor shared a photo of their six-month-long project to clean up their pantry. To the person who has made it happen, you are incredible!
Now, some of you must be asking how this person fills the jars in the first place since most spices and dried goods are sold in plastic. Well, instead of going to any shop to buy spices, they visit a refill store that sells food without pesky packaging.
Everything can be fixed
The subreddit is full of determined people who are dedicated to reducing their waste. One user shared a picture of a broken pen. Or, rather, how they fixed a broken pen! We bet nothing goes to waste in that household.
This is the kind of perspective you need in life. The person could have easily gotten a new pen for less than a dollar. In fact, their coworker asked why they went through the effort. They didn’t give in to pressure and used some tape to stylishly repair a still-functional pen.
The wise thing to do
At first glance, this image might seem like the exact opposite of the purpose of this list. But, nope, this isn’t a dog destroying someone’s oven mitt. The mitt was disintegrating after being washed too many times, so this woman had a clever idea.
Rather than tossing the oven mitts and stuffing toys her dog had chewed through, she stuffed the mitts with the leftovers and sewed it up. That’s it. With only a needle and some upholstery thread, she had a fantastic DIY dog toy.
This piece of art is actually a functional seat. This Redditor shared that they crochet it using only yarn from her late stepmom’s collection. Apart from that, she salvaged and used two pillows that were otherwise going to end up in the landfill.
The innards of this one-of-a-kind seat include an airline blanket and some worn-out bed sheets. That’s all it took! Now she has a comfy seat that is perfect for guests, four-legged friends, or even worthy of selling for some extra cash.
Repairing broken handles
Crochet projects are beautiful, but it stinks when the needle’s hook breaks off. If you’ve ever been there, one Redditor has the solution for you. When their crochet hook broke off, they used an old paintbrush to replace the handle.
Can you guess what happened next? A friend suggested they share it on the Zero Waste subreddit, and we’re glad they did! This is the type of creativity, thinking, and environmental concern that needs to be shared, and Reddit is just the place to do so.
A lot has changed since December 2019 when Covid-19 came into our lives. Aside from the overwhelming use of disposable masks — outside of a medical setting, of course — single-use items have been thriving for the past few years.
But there’s a better way to reduce the spreading of germs than just single-use products. Instead, bring your own cup. You can guarantee that no one else has used it. Better yet, you can get a cool, stylish mug, just like this person did.
In this throw-away lifestyle, there’s a belief that if something is old, it’s no longer worth keeping. This person found out that someone was getting rid of these old salad servers. Instead of letting it happen, they took them home…
…and with a little restoration, they look like stylish antiques perfect for a dinner party. They look old, but they still function just as they’re meant to. We’re glad somebody recognized the value in these old utensils and gave them a second life.
A noble job
This person deserves all the good things in the world, because the efforts they’ve been making to reduce waste are simply outstanding. In short, the world needs more and more people like them. They work at a farmer’s market — well, more than just “work,” as you’ll soon find out.
The food in the box is “bad” by human standards. The bread, fruit, and vegetables wouldn’t sell, which usually means they’ll be landfill fodder. But, this person saves it all and brings it to an animal sanctuary to feed the critters a healthy meal and save the Earth as well.
The tree of knowledge
If don’t have the means — financially or logistically — to rent a Christmas tree, don’t just buy a plastic one from Walmart. You can DIY an eco-friendly tree instead. It’s easy to make and will have more impact than a store-bought one.
This book tree is stylish, and it has a great message. It’s almost like it’s telling us that we’ll find the answers we seek in the pages of a book. We should take the time to slow down and read more. Perhaps pick up a book on zero-waste lifestyles to find more ideas like this.
No matter how hard we try, there’s just no escaping technology. Even if you have no problem with being addicted to the internet, you must agree that the cables and chargers are getting a bit out of hand. So, how do you keep things neat without plastic zip ties?
All you need is a cardboard box and some empty toilet paper rolls. These rolls are the perfect size to keep any cable in. And, those bricks fit snuggly between the rolls. If you’ve made the paper-free switch to a bidet, you can probably ask your friends to save their rolls.
Reusing and repurposing
We saw some dog toy solutions before, and now we have one for our feline friends. Cats may not go through toys as quickly as dogs, but they still need their enrichment. This Redditor shared their DIY cat toys. Check it out…
Using repurposed yarn, they knit/crochet these adorable cat toys. Now, they save yarn, pillows, and stuffed animals from being produced and ending up in landfills months or years later. This subreddit is teaching us so much about ways to repurpose old “junk.”
There are so many brands and shapes of pasta, it can be rather overwhelming. Still, you’ve probably noticed that some companies use only plastic while others opt for “cardboard” boxes. But even those ones aren’t completely recyclable, thanks to the plastic sheeting lining the inside.
Honestly, we’re not sure why pasta boxes even need those little windows. There’s always a picture on the box to show customers what shape it is anyway. More companies should get on board with this idea, and maybe even reduce the use of ink in their boxes, too.
We’re so focused on straws and bags that there’s one other major offender we skim past — bread bag clips. The plastic bags are obvious, but the sneaky little clips are still a major problem. Hundreds of thousands of these things are manufactured and used every day!
So, to change that, this company switched out their plastic tags for paper ones. There is actually a purpose for those tags other than to seal the bag — manufacturers print the package date on there, to tell you how fresh it is. We’re just waiting for them to notice the plastic bag…
Brick by boring brick
No this is not a cube of rock, nor a block of soap. This image comes from a workshop that is manufactures bricks with a minimal environmental impact. This brick is 90% trash and 10% resin, to hold it all together.
We’re so happy to see more and more innovators designing ways to turn trash into literal building blocks. Have you heard of eco-bricks? You can find some tutorials online if you want to give it a try. Let’s build a greener world brick by brick!
Body shop refills
We talked about shops that allow customers to restock their frozen goods and spices without packaging, and we’re here to show you another one. This image was taken at a body shop in Stockholm, Sweden, and honestly, we are impressed.
At this store, customers can buy their soaps and lotions without buying a single plastic bottle. And there’s plenty of variety, too. Each of those pumps is a different product. When we talk about “reducing,” we’re referring to plastic packaging, not our options.
Eco-friendly food wrapping
Behold, the best alternative to cling wrap and aluminum foil. No more struggling with clumps of plastic or single-use wax sheets. These handmade beeswax food wraps work just as well, if not better, than the “traditional” food savers, like Saran Wrap.
Better yet, they are washable. You can even find vegan alternatives if you do not want to use animal products. Fortunately, products like these are easier to find nowadays, and refill store and package-free shops are likely to sell them.
A feel-good moment
One tip for reducing waste is to sit down and eat at restaurants instead of getting takeout. But what if you have a big meal and don’t want to waste the food? Sadly, that means you’re stuck getting a plastic takeout container…
…unless you’re this person. They were prepared when they went to lunch with some friends and brought a collapsible container. Since it’s collapsible, it doesn’t take up a lot of room to bring it places. Why not get one for yourself?
What do you think of when we mention hotels? Probably those little bottles of soap, conditioner, and lotion, right? Well, you won’t find those at this Best Western. They replaced the individual bottles with larger pumps attached to their showers…
We can’t even fathom how many half-used plastic shampoo bottles were saved when they installed this setup. This is something other hotels should take note of and start implementing. Small steps like these go a long way, especially when you consider how many people will use this apparatus every year.
Holding it together
The lady who shared this photo was dealing with quite the situation here. She’s 28 and had been using the same laundry basket for her whole life…until now. Unfortunately, one of the handles started cracking a few years ago, and it’s only gotten worse since.
For most people, the first sign of breakage would mean a trip to the store to buy a new basket, but not for her. She took it as a sign to get creative and crocheted a handle sleeve to hold the basket together.
Paint the town green
What do you get the artist that has it all? A new set of brushes? Some fresh paints? Or, how about this DIY paintbrush holder? This clever DIY-er turned a pair of old jeans into a one-of-a-kind art supply holder.
This gives us so many ideas on how to use old jeans. We saw earlier the person who turned scraps into a tug toy, and now this brush holder. What else can you make? A DIY to go-ware holder, perhaps. Or a stylish new bag. The possibilities are endless.
No matter how much you lather on the sunscreen, there’s still a chance you’ll get some nasty sunburn. This person shared that they got sunburned on a work trip and needed some aloe. But, they didn’t buy a plastic bottle at the pharmacy…
Instead, she bought this huge chunk of aloe vera. Now, the only waste is the small sticker; the husk can go into a compost and the gel inside is the perfect balm. If you find yourself getting burned often, invest in an aloe vera plant.
Two birds, one stone…again
Even with a tax and/or ban on plastic grocery bags, it feels like they’ll always be part of our lives — some people can’t seem to give them up. And, since they’re so cheap, people have no problem disposing of plastic bags, even if they’re still usable.
This park in Sacramento asks that patrons put their still-good plastic bags in the provided bin. This solves so many problems. One, it reduces the amount of plastic bags the city has to buy to provide for its residents. Two, it encourages people to pick up dog poop. Three, it gives plastic bags another life.
Bowl from peels
We’ve talked a bit about reducing food waste — remember the farmer’s market collection? So, what do factories do with their waste? Sadly, many of the food scraps go to the garbage. This picture came from an orange juice factory that usually dumps the peels.
But one philanthropic company approached the factory, requesting to use their scraps. This edible orange peel bowl is the end product. Ideas like this will help close the loop on wasteful manufacturing and can play a huge part in sustainable living.
The goal is to not waste anything
No breakfast is complete without milk in your cereal or a refreshing glass of orange juice. Sadly, that also means no breakfast is complete without a carton of your drink of choice. This Redditor was tired of going through so many drink cartons…
…so they decided to make their own! What you see here are oat milk and fruit juice. It wasn’t so long ago that milkmen were an essential part of our society. Perhaps this is the time to revive some “old” businesses in an effort to reduce single-use products — like milk cartons.
Weaving it all
Even if you stop using plastic bags at this exact second, chances are you’ll come across dozens of them each month. This Redditor set themself a goal of saving plastic bags, and after one year of doing so, put them to good use.
This is just the beginning of their weaving project. We can’t tell how many bags this person used, nor how many are sitting behind the camera, but this basket weaving project is sure to be an enviable masterpiece. We hope they share a picture of the final product.
Mushrooms in a jar
Before you freak out, no this is not a pretzel jar gone wrong. This Redditor just used an old container to grow some gourmet mushrooms. Depending on where you live, you might struggle to find mushrooms not pagacked in plastic.
But with a little know-how, an empty container, and some sawdust, you can grow your own. Of course, if you choose to do so, we highly recommend that you consult an expert and get advice before eating any mushrooms you grow.
One lemon, three uses
If you feel daunted by the homegrown mushroom, this lemon hack is the perfect solution for any beginner. This person shared how then turned one ingredient (lemons) into three usable goods. The first, and most obvious, is the lemon juice they used for cooking.
The jar is filled with peels and vinegar — a simple but effective DIY cleaning solution. And, lastly, the Ziploc baggie contains some of the seeds. At the time of this picture, they’re germinating and will hopefully be ready to plant next summer.
If you check your bathroom, you’ll find many plastic items, plenty of which have reusable and compostable alternatives. You might have heard of compostable toothbrushes. Well, we see your bamboo toothbrush and raise you one aluminum brush! Colgate launched a new, reduced plastic design for their brushes…
Like electric toothbrushes, these have a replaceable brush head. That way, you waste less every time you replace your toothbrush. The sleek aluminum handle is way more stylish than the traditional plastic one. We hope more companies take a note from Colgate and adapt their products with reusable designs.
Eat the wrapper
This one could weird you out, but we ask you to have an open mind. That is a Japanese candy with something special about it. The wrappers that are used over here are not made out of plastic. They’re made out of edible starch!
It could be tasty for some, while others might not like it, which is just how it is for every food item. Nonetheless, it’s a great step taken to reduce plastic usage. Those who have eaten it say that the wrapper is tasteless and it doesn’t distort the candy flavor!