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101 Easy Zero Waste Tips

Zero Waste for Beginners

Last Updated on April 11, 2023

I thought it would be a lot of fun to compose over 100 easy zero waste tips that you could implement relatively quickly. You might not be able to implement all of them today, but you can definitely get a jump start on a lot! 

These zero waste ideas will teach you how to go zero waste and get you started on a zero waste home. Zero waste living is about much more than recycling or water conservation. From DIYs to simple habit formation, these are zero waste tips anyone can do! Every day we have a choice to make this world a little less wasteful. What can you do to live more sustainably today?

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how to go zero waste

Many people are overwhelmed when learning how to go zero waste. However, a lot of these zero waste ideas are SUPER easy to do — it just takes a little bit of commitment. Obviously, you don’t have to do everything on this list. Going zero waste is a journey, and a lot of times there is more than one option.

There is no one correct way to do something. Rather, there are a multitude of ways ranging from best to better to not so good. Weigh all of your options and be a conscious consumer. Reducing your consumption is the most important thing you can do.

But, in the meantime, pick a couple of things and give something new a try! You have to start somewhere. And, don’t let only being able to do a little prevent you from doing anything. All the little things add up to a massive impact! 

Why You’ll Love These Zero Waste Ideas

  • These are simple, approachable ways to reduce your consumption, without all the overwhelm
  • A zero waste home is the start of a more sustainable, zero waste community
  • These tips don’t require any preparation — you can start many of them today!

If you want a practical guide for reducing your waste, there are even more tips and information to explore. Be sure to check out my book, 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste!

In the mean time, you can start some of these zero waste living options today!

Zero Waste Tips

Tips for a Zero Waste Home

  1. Ditch tissues for handkerchiefs.
  2. Donate unused items in good condition to support the second-hand market.
  3. Try elderberry syrup if you feel a cold coming on, instead of immediately reaching for a plastic pill bottle.
  4. Always say no thank you to free promotional items. They tend to be cheap and break easily.
  5. Turn old sheets and towels into handkerchiefs, rags, napkins, and cloth produce bags.
  6. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush.
  7. Open a window to cool down your home or air it out.
  8. Wash clothes when they are actually dirty, instead of after only one wear.
  9. Try to avoid palm oil.
  10. Don’t leave your house without a full reusable water bottle.
  11. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap, it tends to come with less packaging.
  12. Unplug electronics when not in use.
  13. Change light bulbs to LEDs.
  14. Be mindful when using technology.
  15. Try canning to preserve food.
  16. Store your food properly to make it last longer.
  17. Repurpose stale bread.
  18. Put on a sweater and socks before turning up the heat.
  19. Get rid of pests naturally.
  20. Get some houseplants at a local nursery to purify your air, and don’t forget to return the little plastic pots!
  21. Plant a small garden.
  22. Start a backyard compost.
  23. Learn to regrow kitchen scraps.
  24. Line dry a load instead of using the dryer.
  25. Always run a full dishwasher or load of clothes.
  26. Ditch paper towels and use tea towels and rags.
  27. Look into collecting rainwater or a greywater system.
  28. Avoid junk mail by placing a sticker on your box or going to
  29. Meal plan to avoid food waste.
  30. Repair something when it breaks.
  31. Wash your clothes in cold water when you can.
  32. Make my favorite zero waste switch: look at installing a bidet attachment.

Zero Waste Shopping Tips

  1. Don’t buy anything impulsively!
  2. Pick up a lonely banana.
  3. Buy food without packaging or minimal packaging.
  4. Think second-hand first when purchasing something.
  5. Instead of buying something when you’re having a bad day, do something! Try going on a walk, taking a yoga class, or meeting up with a friend.
  6. Surround yourself with items that serve multiple purposes to streamline and cut excess junk.
  7. Commit to bringing your reusable bags to the store. If you don’t have them, turn around and go get them! After forgetting them once, you won’t do it again.
  8. Swap disposable pads and tampons for cloth pads or a menstrual cup.
  9. Switch from a plastic disposable razor to a metal safety razor.
  10. Bring reusable produce bags for fruits and veggies.
  11. Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea in a reusable strainer.
  12. Buy more locally made goods.
  13. If you’re looking for a specialty item, like camping gear or an extra table for a party, ask a friend if you can borrow one before making a purchase.
  14. Surround yourself with tools and items that are meant to last a lifetime. Try to only buy objects once.
  15. Ask for no plastic and reused packaging materials for online orders.
  16. Ditch plastic shower loofahs for a real loofah or a bamboo bath brush.
  17. Most sunscreen causes coral bleaching — go coral friendly!
  18. Look into tree-free TP.
  19. Look into rechargeable batteries instead of disposables.
  20. Ask yourself if you truly need it before making any purchases.
  21. Swap don’t shop! Host a clothing swap with friends.
  22. Avoid receipts when out, and ask if one has to be printed. Sometimes they do, but not always!
  23. Ditch plastic q-tips for plastic-free or reusable.
  24. Ditch sponges in lieu of compostable scrubs or brushes

Zero Waste Living Tips

  1. Try making your own lotion.
  2. Make dry shampoo to stretch between washes.
  3. Get a library card to support your local sharing economy.
  4. Make your own face mask from stuff in your pantry.
  5. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
  6. Build a zero waste kit and put in the trunk of your car or carry it with you when you’ll be out so you’ll always be prepared. It doesn’t have to be large just a few items!
  7. Try cloth diapering.
  8. Try making tooth powder to avoid unrecyclable toothpaste tubes.
  9. Learn how to freeze your food without plastic so it doesn’t go to waste.
  10. Make your own febreze spray to freshen your room for pennies!
  11. Swap little plastic chapstick tubes for DIY lip balm.
  12. Try your hand at an easy all-purpose cleaning spray.
  13. Pack your lunch instead of eating out every day.
  14. Reduce your meat consumption. If you’re not ready to go vegetarian start small: try Meatless Monday, weekday vegetarian, or even weekday vegan.
  15. Try homemade mouthwash.
  16. Make your own deodorant.
  17. If your destination can be walked in 30 minutes or less, get outside instead of driving.
  18. Bring your own to-go cup when getting coffee on the run.
  19. Learn how to repair a button or hem to extend the life of your clothing.
  20. Serve dinner with cloth napkins.
  21. Eat more vegetables and legumes.
  22. Keep a bucket in the shower to water plants or flush the toilet.
  23. Wrap presents in newsprint or not at all!
  24. Swap cotton rounds for reusable rounds.
  25. Focus on experiences rather than things.
  26. Make homemade gifts to give to friends and family.
  27. Try Wheatless Wednesdays to cut back on intensive grain farming.
  28. Keep a stocked pantry to avoid getting takeout on busy nights.
  29. Go paperless for all your bills!
  30. Make your morning cup of coffee with a French press or pour over with a reusable filter to avoid extra waste.
  31. Use both sides of the paper!

Tips for Being Zero Waste in Your Community

  1. Ask for a real mug at the coffee shop when staying in.
  2. Bring your own container for to-go food and leftovers.
  3. Take public transit if available or carpool.
  4. Join a community garden.
  5. Try to shrink the amount you recycle. Zero waste is about recycling less not more.
  6. Vote with your dollars for a sustainable future.
  7. Ask for no straw in your drink order when out.
  8. Know where everything you buy comes from whether it be food, clothing, or other household goods.
  9. Find your local cobbler to repair tired shoes.
  10. Learn where to properly dispose of items like gift cards, old cell phones, batteries and unusable cords. They can be turned in at Best Buy, etc.
  11. Find your local tailor to help with clothing repairs.
  12. Pick up litter when you’re out and dispose of it properly.
  13. Check out your farmers market.
  14. Beware of greenwashing, and always do your research.

If you liked this post be sure to check out my book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste!


isn’t it expensive to go zero waste?

It absolutely does not have to be! In fact, many of these tips will actually save you money by reducing your consumption, eliminating single use products, and reusing and upcycling what you already have.

how long does it take to go zero waste?

That depends on the person! Some people aren’t able to commit to going zero waste all at once, and some are more sustainable than others to begin with. The important part is to do what you can and increase how much you’re doing as you go. Going zero waste is a marathon, not a race!

Are there any zero waste tips I left out? What would add to the list or tell someone who’s just starting the zero waste journey?

This post may contain affiliate linking you can read more on my disclosure page.

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  1. I already do 89/100! I feel so proud of myself right now. And the things i don’t do, i’m planning to do them when i move out, when i have enough money, or in some years (like cloth diapers! No babies yet, thank god! But I’m totally doing it in the future) 😀

  2. Hey thanks for excellent 101 tips for zero waste! I already do some of these tips, and I didn’t know other these tips! I will try it and change better habits for zero waste in my life! Thanks for tips!
    I have a question for #93 and #94..

    93- (ditch plastic Q-tips for plastic free or reusable) I just clicked that link "reusable" on amazon link. I wonder does it work well as act as regular Q-tips? I saw the store commercial "reusable q-tip like wax remover device" at the store, I felt it will be not good and confident about that device. I always feel wonder how can I find a way to reusable q-tips again instead of throw it away as waste for so long time! thanks for tip!

    94-(ditch sponges for compostable scrubs or brushes) I just clicked that link "compostable scrubs" on amazon link, it said bamboo scraper and I wonder how it works? I know its wooden and hard instead of soft sponges, but how?? email me back or post me back. I am curious about answers.

    Thanks for all tips too! Keep up! maybe you should post 1000 tips for zero waste? or another new 100 tips?


    1. I don’t know if I’d be able to do 1,000! But, I have both of those products. I only used q-tips when my allergies were bad and I could feel build up in my ears. It works well for that purpose, but you have to be careful with it! You can hurt yourself with it. Don’t jam it in your ear. The pot scraper is one of my favorite switches!! Perfect for getting caked on stuff off of my pans and dishes. I would highly recommend it. It’s not abrasive enough to damage my enamel coated pots either so it works out great for me!

  3. Another one: re-use tights. Who cares if there’s a ladder. Go punk-style wearing them when you’re not at work. Or, at least, re-use them using them as dust cleaning cloth… they work really well for that!

  4. Question… why switch from a typical coffee pot to a French press or pour over? Is it because of the paper filters? I can’t figure out why I would make the switch, but I’m open to it!

    1. Maybe I should have said, ditch the kurig. I was very much in my mindset when writing this. I had a traditional coffee maker with filters, but only drink a cup or two a week at home. It took up a lot of counter space, and I didn’t want the filters. Of course, if you have one and use it, then by all means keep doing that! Compost the filters and after it’s stopped working maybe look into a filterless system. 😉 Sorry for not being more clear.

      1. Oh that makes sense! We ditched out Keurig for a more traditional coffee maker, and I looked into reusable filters but so far haven’t found one with overall great reviews. I know that besides the electricity, really the problem is the filters. Thanks for clarifying! ?

        1. Rinse carefully and reuse the paper filters. You should be able to reuse them at least 10 times.
          Have a cloth filter made. It will last you like forever. Buy a coffee pot that has a metal or plastic filter integrated.

        2. Hi Rebecca, I know you posted this a while ago but I have a reusable cloth coffee filter recommendation for you! (If you still have a traditional drip coffee machine, of course 🙂 ). I’ve been using a filter called a "Coffee Sock" for about the past year, and I love it. You just dump the grounds into the compost, rinse the filter, and air dry.

  5. I’m just starting out on my zero waste journey, so there are some really useful tips and great pointers for where to start. I’m really thankful for the link to stop junk mail, I’m not sure it covers UK addresses but if not I’m sure there must be a UK alternative. Junk mail doesn’t really bother me if I can recycle it, but the vast majority of it seems unrecyclable.

  6. We used to drink coffee from a drip machine and we had a reusable filter. Then we did have a keurig for a short time with a reusable k-cup but we have since switched to drinking loose leaf tea. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I get toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap. It’s not made from trees, it comes in paper packaging and a cardboard box- no plastic, they deliver to your house and they donate 50% of the profits to water and toilet related charities.

    1. This is awesome! I’ve never heard of it but I looked it up and will definitely be making a purchase. Hope it comes to Canada soon!

  8. Thank you so much for this, very helpful.

    If I can just make a comment – advising people to have a zero waste kit ready in their cars is a nice idea, but there is nothing zero waste about owning a car. You can go zero-waste in terms of food, drink and cosmetics, but if you have a car that 1) is harms the environment every time you drive it and 2) is basically 1000kg of steel that will end up crushed in a landfill… that pretty much negates the entire point.

    1. Totally agreed. C02 is the human waste that most endangers life in this planet. Bicycle, public transport, walking… we should have a full article on how NOT to have a private car. I can think about a million ways that are fully available:BlaBlaCar To share your car or get a ride, Moovit for a wonderful tool to use public transportation in hundreds of cities around the world, …

  9. I have to say some of the things mentioned on this list has given me a lot of inspiration to take my zero waste goal to the next level. What I like about each item is that I can put most of them into action right away. Real kudos for putting together this list!

  10. Wow never thought of this before, this is enlightening. Will surely give this a go. Thanks for this information.

  11. Hi if you ladies aren’t familiar with this tip already,pantyhose or those pantyhose try on socks at shoe shoes are AWESOME for removing nail polish.I will never go back to cotton❗️I just rince and reuse.

  12. So this isn’t entirely no waste, but it’s cut down significantly, and costs less.
    I saved some foam soap dispensers from my mom’s recycling and bought a HUGE container of regular liquid soap for $2.
    I have a toddler and a baby, so we have to wash up a lot and bar soap gets wasted, along with water, when we use it.
    But, adding just a tiny bit of my liquid soap, filling the rest with water, and presto diy foam soap.
    I have been using the same refill pack for the past 6 months for 3 sinks and have barely put a dent in it

    1. Hi Amber – I do the same. Big reduction in soap used, not to mention water as I can soap up without any tap/bath water.

  13. Great post! Lots of good value to find in the article!
    A little hack by myself. I’ve long been looking for alternatives for a lot of the things which I use in my daily life, which is where I stumble upon NanoTowel. Great alternative to papertowel. AMAZING suction ability – can hold a crazy amount of water.
    Feel free to check them out

  14. My new zero waste ideas:
    stainless steel steamer tray 6" for cat litter box toilet paper
    Dr. Bronner’s Castille bar soap for washing dishes for dishwasher and laundry pods
    beeswax on cotton for wrapping food

    1. Rocketbook*
      It’s actually really interesting and something that I recommend if you still want to use "paper" and pen (there still is the waste of using the pens however). In all honestly, I’d invest in a tablet of some sort with a note-taking app if you’re looking for the most zero waste alternative.
      Link for whoever wants to check it out…

    1. Agreed. CO2 is the most urgent human waste that we need to reduce and using bicycle as a means of transport helps greatly.

  15. An eco-friendly morning greetings to every one, thanks for the tips that we could acquired and applied in our everyday routines. I really wanted also to applied the zero waste hobbies in my daily routines and I always read some articles or links related to eco-friendly tips in terms of conservation, protection and preservation of our natural resources and the environment as well as the Solid Waste Management concern.

  16. A lot of these things are nice, but I think we can do better. Food wise there is more to win than just eating less meat and reducing plastic. We need to take a look at what we do and do not need to survive. Take coffee, for example. You do not need that at all, it is actually bad for you, too hot – > so risk of throat cancer, it is addictive – > the bs about don’t talk to me before i have had my morning Coffee, it also messes with your mental health, as it disrupts your attention and your inner clock and worse of all, you need a 130 liters of water to produce one cup of coffee, ignoring how we ship it from far away places. Same logic should be applied to alcohol and chocolate (needs more water than meat to be producer). Cutting these things out of your lifestyle will help yourself and the world a lot.

  17. Co2 is the most problematic human waste nowadays, and on an individual matter having a private car means tons of Co2, regardless of it being gas, hybrid, electric … there are tons of options and many are already implemented in one or another place.

  18. I am definitely not perfect in being zero-waste, but I’ve made some major changes in the past few years! I use reusable menstrual products, reusable grocery bags, ditched paper napkins and paper towels, and have cut my use of sandwich bags and cotton balls with reusable alternatives! 🙂 Since I’m frugal, I also rarely buy clothes new and buy them used!

  19. What can I do with some of my already bought single use items? Should I use them up? Should I donate them?More specifically I have the Clorox single use toilet bowl cleaners and am wondering if I should just donate them or use them first. At this point it definitely feels like having already bought them the damage has been done.

  20. I bought your book as an audiobook. It was the only way my academic husband was going to have the information rather than just listening to me since I started following your blog. It came just in time since he was organizing a conference for over 200 scientists on Artificial Life and sustainability which brought scientists from all over the world to our city in the UK. The conference lasted a whole week and there was a lunch and two coffee brakes. Remote participation for both assistants and speakers was arranged to avoid all the intercontinental traveling as well. As part of the merchandise were a tea towel, reusable vacuum insulated cup and a fabric tote, so they manage to not have even a napkin thrown to a bin. It was such a successful zero waste conference. He only hopes there were many listening to lesson in all of these actions.

  21. I read your blog then got up to go to the bathroom and saw how many paper towels were in the bin. I thought you could add carrying a hand towel with you in your backpack, purse, or lunch pail to dry your hands with instead of using paper supplies

  22. "Try elderberry syrup if you feel a cold coming on instead of immediately reaching for a plastic pill bottle."

    Since elderberry syrup is as effective as doing nothing, how about just using the time honored treatment of waiting it out when you have a cold instead? After all, unless you make your own, elderberry syrup comes in a plastic container. And making your own will likely generate some waste too.

    Trying to get to zero waste and skip the woo…


  24. I’m very interested in going zero waste. I’m a vegetarian and recycle everything I can. I want to learn to live a more sustainable lifestyle