7 Small but Powerful Steps Toward a Zero Waste Lifestyle

February 18, 2016

Intrigued by the zero-waste movement but don’t know where to start?

In our podcast about zero waste, we identified several simple tactics that can make a big difference.

More than likely, you are already doing some of this. If so, give yourself a pat on the back! Every step, no matter how small, helps take us all a little further down the road to a more Earth-friendly and resilient future.

Refuse to buy stuff

Brad talked about how he makes his own sauerkraut instead of buying it at the store.  This, of course, avoids packaging because he keeps it in a re-usable jar.  But it also gives him a higher quality of sauerkraut – alive with probiotics that support his health.  It also doesn’t contain any preservatives or toxins.  For a tutorial on making your own sauerkraut, you might want to check out my guest post on The Modern Homesteading podcast.

I love to make my own household products like detergent and window cleaner rather than buying them.  Again, I eliminate a lot of packaging this way as well as toxins that are included in most cleaning products.  You can find LOTS of great ideas for this on Pinterest.  To get you started, you might want to check out my DIY Household board here. 

Reduce the amount of packaging on things you buy

Buying in bulk goes a long way toward reducing your waste.  You may want to consider joining a healthy food co-op. Each month a group of my local friends order from a place that delivers healthy food to the home of one of the group members.  We often buy things like oatmeal in bulk and then split it among the group.  Not only does this keep us moving toward that zero waste lifestyle, it also helps to lower our carbon footprint by saving multiple trips to the store.


Pay attention to where the products you buy come from.  As Marianne noted, you may be thinking you are doing a great thing by purchasing a recycled paper product.  But if it’s recycled from U.S. paper that is shipped to China, you may be hurting Mother Earth more than you are helping.

Research can also help you to identify higher quality items.  Spending a little more money for products that last longer and don’t break down can save you both time and money in the long run, while keeping more trash from going to the landfill.

Repurpose your neighbor’s trash

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say.  Don’t be shy about liberating something useful from the curbside garbage in your neighborhood.  People throw away lots of things that can still be used or that can be repurposed.  Collecting such items can save you money and help the planet.


Brad shared his family’s practice of always getting rid of something they own, whenever they bring something new into the house. He gives these old items away or sells them.  This way, the items aren’t sitting in his garage when others could use them.  Sharing or selling old items gives them new life and reduces the need for people to have to purchase new, packaged items.

Recycle and upcycle

Shop for clothing at thrift stores. You’ll save money by giving life to clothing that might otherwise be thrown away.  If you have a sewing machine, you can get creative and turn your thrift-store finds into stylish wardrobe additions.  I love the ways people are doing this with old T-Shirts.


Watch the magic of nature turn your kitchen and yard waste into nutritious compost for your garden.  The basic recipe for compost is 30 parts brown material (dried such as leaves, sticks and cardboard) to one part green material (fresh such as kitchen waste. )


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2 comments on “7 Small but Powerful Steps Toward a Zero Waste Lifestyle

  1. Nice list! We are on an attempt to kick the “supermarket”, which while a lofty goal, it has gotten us in the habit of making more and more of our own stuff. We live in Boston, so homesteading looks a bit different to those with land. So with that in mind, we made the simple switch of not running down the block for our coffee, but rather brewing it ourself. And for what its worth, we compost our coffee grinds! A byproduct of DIY tends to be “trash-free”, we have found!

    Mindy at The Walking Herbalist

    • Jenise Fryatt Mar 28, 2016

      Thanks for sharing your own experience with moving toward a zero-waste lifestyle! It really is simple steps like brewing your own coffee instead of buying from a coffee place, that take us further and further into sustainable living. And you are so right about the link between DIY and zero-waste! You become more and more adept at making your own things, thereby becoming more self sufficient too!