The Beginner's Guide to Zero Waste

by Kate Hall March 06, 2018

Guide to zero waste living

Human beings are consumers. We eat and drink to stay alive, and find joy in objects and things. We can’t help but have an impact on the planet, and it’s up to us to determine what type of impact that will be. Introducing: zero-waste. Zero-waste lifestyles are becoming more popular every year and are a way to reduce our negative impact. Meanwhile, you’re probably thinking: what the heck is zero-waste?! Welcome to your beginner’s guide to zero-waste… 

What is zero-waste?

Zero-waste is a new way of consuming. It goes against the mainstream practice of using something once which then becomes redundant. Zero-waste turns the one-way system of consumption into a circular model, ensuring everything is repaired or recycled and bought back into nature or the marketplace once it has been used.

Zero-waste involves all areas of consumption.

From food to clothes, transport to travel, the concept of zero-waste encompasses everything, and new ways of recycling and repairing what we use are being discovered regularly. Zero-waste consumers may turn their food scraps into compost for their garden, boil their meat bones for a healthy broth, avoid single use plastic items, or be found rummaging through second-hand shops to give discarded items another life. 

Why is zero-waste important?

Every item we use has had natural resources, energy, water, and human design invested into it to exist.

Once it has been used and ends up in landfill, another item needs to be created, requiring more energy and natural resources such as coal, oil, trees, and minerals.

Reality is, we don’t have an endless amount of resources. Consuming with a zero-waste mindset means resources are protected, preserved, and consumed at a much slower rate which is more sustainable for our planet, and means we won’t run out.

Guide for zero waste lifestyle

When the circular system of zero-waste is not accounted for, the wrong things end up in the wrong places, causing even more environmental damage. For example, when vegetable scraps are not composted, they end up in landfill. Once buried in the airless environment, these organic materials will decompose and produce methane gas which contributes greatly to climate change. Zero-waste is important to the existence of our planet, and how long humans can survive happily, and with an abundance of resources. 

10 tips on how to begin a zero-waste lifestyle:

  1. Invest in reusable items and bring them everywhere (Coffee cup, straws, cutlery, containers, drink bottle)
  2. Shop with reusable shopping bags and only buy what you need
  3. Buy from bulk food stores with your own glass jars and produce bags
  4. Compost your vegetable scraps
  5. Choose products with packaging made of glass, metal, or cardboard which can be recycled
  6. Shop second-hand to reduce the demand for new products
  7. Choose sustainable transport methods: walk, bike, public transport, or carpool
  8. Shop at farmer’s markets to reduce the chances of your vegetables being wrapped in glad wrap
  9. Use beeswax wraps to cover and store your food
  10. Write a shopping list and stick to it- reduce your trips to the shop and the risk of food waste

Zero-waste is a lifestyle choice that looks different for everyone. It's about striving for reduction of waste, not perfection.

Suddenly throwing away all your daily habits and replacing them with zero-waste ideas is not going to work in the long run; you'll get exhausted, disheartened, and give up. Zero-waste needs to be a mindset that grows over time. Take into account your capacity for change, and make small steps that suit you and your lifestyle. The fact is, we aren't all perfect, and I have yet to meet anyone who is!

If you have more tips, let us know in the comments below.  

Kate Hall
Kate Hall


Kate is a word smith, kombucha addict, serial smiler, and zero waste enthusiast. She believes life's too short to think of yourself as one tiny person who can't make change. Slow fashion and green living are what gets her up in the morning, and her hand-raised bird will forever be found nuzzling into her shoulder.

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