Having used a Zero Waste Shop for some time, I thought I knew a bit about eco friendly living. Woahhh was that a mistake! From Doctors to Lecturers there are some incredible people out there with some ingenious and truly creative ideas.
This post has something for everyone, whether you are an expert in the field or you're just starting out and feel a little overwhelmed with all the information about zero waste.
Having had an overwhelming response from experts across a multitude of fields I wondered if I needed several posts however I wanted to create one resource that everyone, myself included could keep coming back to so instead it's in much more manageable sizes
The Quick shot - Quick, actionable tips to get you started ( 2 Mins)
The Smooth Whisky - Just like a good whisky they deserve to be savoured but you can never make it last as long as you want it to (5 Mins)
The Pot of Tea - If you're British you know what I mean. Put the kettle on, find somewhere warm and cosy and hunker down in your reading nook. (9 Mins)
The Quick shot
- “Don’t be daunted by the term ‘zero waste’, just start where you are and aim for small but sustainable changes. Sustainability has to be sustainable for you.” - Anita Vandyke @Rocket_science
- “Make your diet more plant-based as fruit and veggie can be bought without plastic packaging.” - Tomas @free_from_plastic
- “Use up what you already have. Reuse and repair when you can.” -Jonathan @zerowasteguy
- “Buy used and shop thrift stores before buying anything new!” - Kenna @Explorezerowaste
- “Find a way to compost your food scraps - this was the most effective thing I did to reduce my household waste. There is an option for everyone regardless of living situation/time/resources.” - Abby @dailygreens.co
- “Use the mushroom bag when shopping for produce at the grocery store!.” - Kate Nelson @plasticfreemermaid
- “Carry your own water bottle, buy a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one, refuse straw, use your own shopping bag and produce bags.” - Inkka @our.planet.ourhome
- “Simplify your wants and your needs. You will not only be consuming less but saving money in the process!” - Jess @Jesswithless
- “Choose to reuse!!” “ Jack @take3forthesea
- Enjoy your ice cream with a cone to avoid waste it is really simple, no effort at all and kind of amusing." - @Easyecotips
- “Look to world land trust, when trying to offset the carbon emissions of a trip as a way to protect particularly biodiverse regions of the world!” - Max @im_max_sinclair
- “What has helped me the most, was slowly changing my lifestyle. I would say to others to not overhaul their lives, but to instead, incrementally change it. “ @simpleishliving
It’s been said to keep a habit going, you keep it as simple and convenient as possible.
That is the common theme here, make a start but with something simple, once it’s become a habit then move on.
“Sustainability has to be sustainable for you.” - Anita vandyke who is currently studying for her doctorate in medicine.
The Smooth Whisky
- “My first tip would be to change out commercial, toxic cleaning supplies for homemade non-toxic ones. The tried and true ingredients and simple recipes our great-grandparents used. Vinegar, baking soda, and a set of reusable hand towels can go a long way!.” - Julia @Simply.living.well
- "Make your first steps as easy as possible, for example, you want to find leather alternatives? Did you know, some alternatives are even better than leather? Waxed Canvas was created 200 years ago by Scottish sailors and it's a truly beautiful product that ages just like leather. However, it's eco friendly and looks dope. If it's better, it makes it easier to maintain the habit." - Liam @SonderKrafts
- “If you need something, look for it everywhere but a store. Find charity shops, recycling stations, flea markets or people giving stuff away. Look for alternatives or other options before buying anything from new I need a basket for my bicycle, and I’d put off buying one, then I found one in a bin. Instead of buying new furniture I try to upcycle or build my own.” - Gittemary, sustainability lecturer and influencer, @Gittemary
- “You may want to rush out and buy all the new shiny Zero Waste alternatives available but that may be counterproductive if you are throwing away usable items in their place. Instead, opt for using up your products first and replacing them with Zero Waste alternatives as they run out.” - Brittany from Www.Litterlessliving.com
- “Be prepared. I always have a mason jar and cloth napkin on hand with me so I never need a disposable takeaway coffee cup or paper napkins. Having reusables on hand makes it SO much easier to reduce waste. I’d also recommend having a pack of reusable cutlery on hand - I have bamboo ones, but they’re so simple and cheap to make with thrifted silverware!” - Sabs Katz, @sustainablesabs
- “Avoid buying anything disposable or packaged in plastic and select compostable, all natural products instead. I started my journey towards a more eco-friendly and zero waste living by learning how to make handmade soap and body care products myself. Whenever I need to buy something I can’t make, I choose to support small, independent businesses that prefer quality over quantity” - Marta @bottegazerowaste
- "Set up a recurring monthly donation to an environmental organization. They’re experts who know how to best use that money to use in defending our lands, advocating for legislation, and researching the issues. Donating is fast and easy and incredibly powerful!" - Alden @ecocult
- “Get a reusable water bottle that you love and make it your best friend. I take my @ouryuhme water bottle with me everywhere. Every day it’s my wallet, phone and water bottle with me no matter where I go. I’ve saved lots on buying drinks while I’m out and it helps prevent you needing to buy single-use water bottles when you get thirsty. It’s a healthy and eco friendly choice.” - Jill Matthews @Jillemathews
- “One of my fave tips would be to be prepared- make a little kit with silverware rolled up in a cloth napkin and a mason jar in your purse, bag, or car. These few little items can really cut out many single-use disposables. Having them with you always allows you spontaneity. You can use the jar to bring home leftovers, get a drink it, bring compost peels home in, and so much more!” - Amanda @mamaeatsplants
- “A Wooden Comb was usual when I was growing up in Japan instead of plastic and disposable ones. I recently started to use it for my hair. I am working toward less waste, so I am looking at ways to support natural products instead of plastic. This was a good option.” - Ran @zerowastejapan
Products, items, things whatever we call them are at the root of the problem. The key here is be more conscious of the products you buy. If your stuck ask yourself “what did we use before we had plastic." Who’d thought of going back to using a wooden comb? Or going back to a product maybe our grandparents would have used. If it was good enough for countless years before it probably is for today.
Pro tip: Deforestation is a serious problem make sure wherever you buy your wooden products make sure they give back and replant a tree.
The Pot of Tea
- “My zero waste tip is to visit your local waste facility and get a tour if you can! Going to your local facility will help you to understand what difficulties they may be having, and how you can help support the waste system in your community. It may also debunk quite a few recycling myths that you may have in mind!” - Christine @Snapshotsofsimplicity
- “One easy place to start to be more eco-friendly is with bathroom products. Our mission is to provide options that are natural and toxic free both to humans and the environment. Most mainstream products are plastic whether that’s mouthwash in a plastic bottle, toothpaste in a plastic tube, plastic dental floss or plastic toothbrushes. Although some of these can be recycled, most can’t be recycled in your general street recycling so will more than likely end up in a landfill taking up to a thousand years to decompose. Furthermore, plastic can only be recycled up to 7 times before it loses its properties and has to be disposed of. Therefore choosing to buy products that are 100% natural and packaged in materials that are biodegradable, compostable or recyclable and disposing of these correctly you can reduce your impact significantly.” - Hermione @georganicsuk
- “To be truly eco friendly you have to understand the circular story behind each product you purchase, from cradle to cradle. The moment you understand how the products you buy affect the planet and it’s inhabitants, is the same moment you become a conscious consumer. From that point you will automatically be led to live a life of minimal waste and minimal consumption as you’ll understand even the greenest of goods comes at a cost somewhere along the line”. - Holly @leotielovely
- “Our biggest tip to those who want to start living a more sustainable lifestyle is basically to stop buying things and to stop feeding consumerism. Only buy what you absolutely need if it's not available to borrow, rent or make yourself! You need to evaluate your life decisions and think of how they are making an impact. Really think hard before picking up something from the dollar section at target and think to yourself: do I need this? Who made this? How long will it last? Can I get it second hand? Can I borrow it from a friend? Can I make it? This shift in mindset has the biggest impact on the world we live in and can truly make a difference!” Geevie wood @sustainyoself
- I think reducing your waste is very easy. You just have to change your mindset. Use your bag or backpack to bring home your groceries. I easily put vegetables after work in my purse. Sometimes I get the weirded out stares, but I am weirded out by their plastics. Everybody owns a bag. Just take it with you when you go shopping. And another big cut on trash is to go to your local farmer’s market, market or farms and buy directly from the source. You will get much better quality food for cheaper and you are supporting local farmers. Seriously, everybody wins. I could even find a farmer’s market in NYC, so I think if you do your homework, you will find something around. If there is no farmer’s market, you can find local farmers. This could take quite some time to build relationships (even years), but it is so rewarding. Try not buy Knick knack or duplicates. It will just clutter your home. Reduce the amount you buy, use what you have and try to repair if something goes wrong. It is not only good for the environment, but it will save you a lot. If you need something new, try to buy 2nd hand. Have a constant open eye for unpackaged items. So when the times comes that you really (really!) need something you can’t live without, you will know where to find it. #bulkiseverywhere” - agnes @Wasteless.at
- “One of my top tips would be to always opt for reusable. Get your self a reusable water bottle, get reusable shopping bags and food containers for lunches and take away. Buy clothes that you love and will wear again and again instead of fast fashion. If we can move away from this 'throw away' concept we can drastically reduce the amount of waste we produce that unfortunately ends up in oceans and clogs up landfill (as there is no 'away', it has to go somewhere!)” - Natalie @cleanourseas
- Use reusable produce bags or leave your produce loose. Swop those little plastic produce bags supermarkets provide for you to put your fruit and veg in for reusable ones. You can buy these or you can simply sew your own. Fill them up with whatever produce you're after, take them home, wash them after use (either in the sink or washing machine) and reuse them the next time. Keep your reusable produce bags inside one of your reusable shopping bags so you don't forget them. And simply place produce that has its own protective outer coating, like bananas and oranges, loose in your basket and buy it without any extra, unnecessary plastic.” -Vicky @Reusablenation
- "My biggest piece of advice when trying to transition to a more conscious, eco-friendly lifestyle would be to start slow. Don't feel like you have to make this transition all at once. I know how easy it is to see all of these conscious living bloggers and want to be just like them, but know that they too didn't make this transition overnight. Start with what's easiest for you and go from there. For me, that "thing" that segued me into this lifestyle was giving up meat, but your journey doesn't have to start there. Whether it's giving up plastic straws, switching to only reusable bags, or adopting a vegan diet, do what works for your body, your mind, and your way of life. Then, as you get comfortable, add the next thing. Then the next, and the next, and before you know it, you'll be living the conscious lifestyle of your dreams! Have patience, be gentle on yourself, and know that you'll reach your goals sooner than you think." -Hannah @theroadtohannah
The key takeaway here is to be informed, the more you improve your knowledge the greater impact you can have. It creates more opportunities to reuse and be creative with your sustainable living.
If you can't reuse anymore remember to use zero waste shops, that take your eco friendly living that extra mile. For example, some take plastic out the ocean and respin it into soft fibres for something useful like clothes. It's important to remember tho, as we were reminded by Hannah, to not feel daunted by the changes you see all these experts/bloggers have made because this didn't happen overnight.
"That's all Folks!"
There is a lot of moving parts to eco friendly living.
From stopping Plastic in our oceans to deforestation in the Amazon. From Preventing Global warming to stopping the earth being used as a giant rug, we use to sweep our rubbish into, in the form of non-recyclable landfill sites.
What was clear in putting this together is that everyone is working toward the same purpose, everyone wants more responsible living and it’s clear that there is a big shift in thinking.
Finally, thank you to the experts, you know who you are and this article would not have been possible without you.
If you want to see a Zero Waste shop have a look here...