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A Guide to Zero-Waste Living

Make zero-waste living easy with 20+ ways to minimize landfill-bound trash in your home.

| January/February 2015

  • Replace plastic wrap with a zero-waste alternative like Abeego's flat food wrap.
    Photo courtesy
  • Lifefactory 2-Cup Glass Food Storage with Silicone Sleeve offers a safe way to store and transport snacks and leftovers.
    Photo courtesy
  • Keep food fresh with reusable food storage.
    Photo courtesy
  • Reduce packaging waste by shopping at bulk bins using reusable mesh bags.
    Photo by Fotolia
  • Reduce the amount of trash you produce by composting organic materials into fertilizer.
    Photo by Getty Images
  • While disposables are less avoidable in the bathroom than anywhere else, by shopping smart we can still reduce our bathroom waste.
    Photo by Corbis
  • Start your zero-waste living adventure with a kitchen compost bin for food waste, plain paper and compostable containers.
    Photo by Thomas Gibson
  • Repurpose landfill-bound items such as bottles or cans into new, useful objects.
    Photo by Veer
  • Home recycling stations can be made tidy and stylish using baskets, colorful basics and lidded containers.
    Photo by Fotolia
  • Stainless steel containers keep food fresh and reduce plastic waste.
    Photo courtesy

Take a minute to peruse the contents of the trash cans throughout your home. While this might not be the most pleasant (or pleasant-smelling!) activity, doing so can provide you with the information you need to begin living healthier, leaner and lighter on the planet. And it might even help you save money over the long haul.

If you’re like most of us, you produce an astounding 4.38 pounds of landfill-bound trash every single day, according to the EPA. For a family of four, that’s a daily output of more than 17 pounds of trash, officially called Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)—resulting in an annual total of more than 6,200 pounds.

Zero-waste living means aiming to reduce landfill-bound trash to the bare minimum—a worthy goal considering that a plastic bag could take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. When you look through your trash, you’ll probably find discards that could be recycled, reused or repurposed. As you get excited about zero-waste living, you’ll reprioritize your shopping habits and reduce the amount of clutter and excessive packaging or goods you bring into your home in the first place. Whether you’re an experienced zero-waster or a beginner, there’s always something to learn or ways to improve. Here’s an easy guide to streamlining the whole process.

Zero-Waste Basics

Anyone dedicated to reducing waste quickly becomes well-versed in the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Consider also these other Rs: Rethink your every purchase in terms of zero-waste, considering how it will finally be disposed. Repair broken appliances, electronics and other items instead of tossing them into landfill trash. Repurpose or upcycle by transforming the old into new, usable objects. Rescue still-usable items from the neighbor’s landfill-bound trash or Dumpster.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

1. Recycling Bin(s): A good place to start is by recycling as much as possible. Check with your community recycling program to learn what’s accepted and required. Learning more about what you can and can’t recycle easily will likely influence your purchasing decisions. For example, if plastics are difficult to recycle in your area, instead buy products packaged in cardboard or glass.

7/4/2019 12:30:39 PM

Another overlooked item to cut waste in the bathroom are the inexpensive ($25) bidet attachments to your toilet. They are easy to install and are good for your health as well as not using as much TP. If you have a septic system, it will thank you for cutting down the amount of tp that you flush.

10/29/2017 4:03:47 AM

I'm looking for guidance on being waste free while expecting our first child and caring for the child. I've made some decisions like cloth diapers, breast feeding and making my own food, but things like wipes, first aid and minor illnesses have me stumped. Most first aid things (antibacterial creams, bandaids, diaper rash creams) are all wrapped in plastics

8/20/2015 8:20:08 AM

Welcome alternatives to disposables (paper towels, garbage liners, wax paper, aluminum sheets, disposable plates, cups, etc....): Swap paper towels for reusable rags, swap sandwich baggies for kitchen towels or stainless containers, drop garbage liners all together (wet waste is mostly compostable anyways). Buy in bulk or at the counter (see Zero Waste Grocery Shopping), bring reusable bags (dry goods), jars (wet items such as meat, deli, fish, cheese, oil, peanut butter) and bottles (liquids: oil, soy sauce, shampoo, conditioner). If you cannot find it in bulk, find a supplier (bring your jar to the ice cream shop, a pillow case to the bakery for your bread, or your bottles to the winery/brewery)... or make it (mustard, salad dressing, hot sauce, jams, OJ, hummus, cookies, canned tomatoes). Company name: House Clearance Ltd. Telephone: 020 3743 8654 Street address: 15 Pymmes Close Postal code: N13 4NJ

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