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Zero Waste Myths

Zero Waste Lifestyle

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

The zero waste lifestyle is becoming more and more popular; so, I wanted to talk about a few of the common myths. 

Is Zero Waste Living More expensive? Does it take more time to live a zero waste lifestyle? Busting a few zero waste myths from #zerowaste #sustainableliving #ecofriendly #savemoney #budget

It Costs A Lot of Money: MYTH

This one couldn’t be further from the truth. You will be saving exponentially.

Packaging, paper towels, tissues, all that stuff costs money and you’re literally throwing it away.

Packaging on average adds an additional 15% cost to any purchase. 

The zero waste lifestyle is focused on repairing an item instead of replacing it. Instead of buying a new pair of boots for $200, have them repaired at the cobbler for $25.

Zero waste promotes the use of the second hand market.

We’d much rather buy something used than waste precious resources to create something new. The second hand market is full of goodies.

All of the furniture in my house is second hand, most of my clothes, and lots of my zero waste essentials like my mason jar collection. I added three pieces to my closet this year for $75; retail value was $695. 

The initial investment for reusables might be slightly higher. For example, a high quality water bottle costs $20-$30, but after filling it up 20 times it pays for itself.  

Don’t forget to check out the second hand market, I found my kanteen at the thrift store for $1.00. 

No more impulse buys either! You have to actually plan when you go shopping or to the grocery store.

You’re shopping more efficiently and buying only what you need. 

And, well…. I guess you could run into an impulse buy… like around Christmas… you could find a penguin plate at the thrift store – that matches your shirt.

I mean how could I not buy that!? (Worth the sticker, worth the dollar)

You Have To Store Your Trash in a Mason Jar: MYTH

No, of course you don’t! That’s silly.

The reason a lot of zero wasters store their trash is to be aware of the type of trash they’re creating. In fact, I would recommend that you go through your trash. Seriously, do a trash audit. 

By looking at what you have, and being aware of what you’re throwing away, it’s so much easier to figure out what you need to eliminate. 

When I started GZW, I realized 75% of what I threw away was organic. I started composting and diverted almost all of my waste.

The goal of the movement isn’t to have everyone in the world cancel their trash service – although that would be pretty awesome.

It’s to bring awareness and change how you see the world. To make you think, “Maybe that doesn’t need to be wrapped in plastic?”

It Takes A Lot of Time: MYTH

It feels the same to me. I go to the store less. I’ve downsized, so I have less to clean, less to maintain, and less to repair. Plus, I don’t have to take out the trash. 

I cook dinner almost every night which takes about 30 – 60 minutes. I make our cleaning products which takes about 30 minutes every six months.

And, I make a few of beauty products which takes about an hour every other month? 

I won’t make anything on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It isn’t sustainable for me.

I’m waaaayyyy to lazy. Thankfully most all of my recipes take little time, little effort, few ingredients, and last a long, long time.

Some of my favorites include dry shampoo and deodorant

You Have to Keep Everything With you at All Times: MYTH

I’ve already debunked this on my travel post.

I do think it’s important to be prepared for unexpected situations. My go to items are a napkin and a 16 oz mason jar maybe slip in a bulk bag or reusable bag that folds up real small just incase?

But, I don’t think there’s a need to bring every reusable you have with you everywhere at all times. But, you have to have a napkin…. ’cause – donuts. 

You’ll Be Healthier: TRUTH!

Yeah, you probably will be. You’ll get to know your farmers. You’ll start shopping local, which is great for the economy.

Your sugar intake will probably plummet (mine did) and you’ll be replacing that processed food with fresh fruits and veggies! 

You’ll most likely be eating less meat and dairy and focusing more on a plant based diet.

Plant based diets are the kindest to the environment and the best for your health. You might even find yourself switching up modes of transportation like walking and riding your bike. 

I love walking to the coffee shop or farmers market! 

Your House Will Look Like a Pinterest Board: ???

Ok, so this may be true. When your house is filled with glass storage jars and lots of natural products like bamboo, how can you go wrong?

My house if made up of all second hand pieces, but I think they go together well.

Is there anything holding you back from the zero waste lifestyle? How can you reduce your waste in the coming months?

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  1. These are some great points that you have made. I thought that going zero waste would take up a lot of my time, but in reality, it hasn’t! It may take some time to get used to but it’s definitely worth it in the end!

    1. That’s so great to hear! It’s definitely a redistribution. You’ll be spending less time in areas and spending a more time in other areas. But, I’m so happy what you’re doing is working for you! 🙂

  2. I think it’s definitely tough for people to start seeing the benefits of going zero waste until they try it for themselves. I hate to say it, but I have found one downside…it is more time consuming. I’m far from zero waste, but I still have to visit three different grocery stores for all of my bulk/recycled packaging needs. Which is no easy feat with 18 month old twins. And going into a second hand store with toddlers is a recipe for disaster as the aisles aren’t big enough for a stroller. A normal SuperTarget shopping trip takes an hour tops; a zero waste shopping trip is closer to 3 hours. I, sometimes, schedule my shopping for the weekend, but then I lose out on precious family time. Any tips from other readers with experience shopping zero waste in suburbia with toddlers would be much appreciated!

    1. I spend a lot less time grocery shopping now because I only stock up on pantry staples once a month and buy all of my other groceries at the farmers market once a week. But, I can definitely see how for some people it would be a very different story. I don’t have any kids, so I can’t accurately speak to the matter. But, I can point you to some ZW bloggers who do have children! I would check out Grunish! She has a toddler and a baby. Hope that helps!

      1. I will definitely check out that blogger! Our farmer’s market only runs from April-Oct, so I’n excited that for that to open back up. If you have suggests for other ZW bloggers who don’t live in forward-thinking states (we live in Alabama) that would also be really helpful!

        1. Yes! I believe I am the only blogger hailing from the Deep South. I am from AR; so, I absolutely understand your plight. If I can think of any others I will send them your way. Rogue Ginger who’s from Australia has a fabulous post from when she visited AR. Not quite the same as Alabama, but I thought you at least might like seeing a souther geared post.

          1. Not sure if you have something like this where you live, but we are part of a local farm CSA. Fresh, locally grown veggies delivered right to you. Between that and stocking up pantry items at the grocery store once a month, the only time we spend in stores is buying local cheese, milk, and bread weekly. Hope this helps!

  3. I’m far from leading a fully ZW life but I find posts like this inspiring and encouraging. I have adopted a few of the habits so far (carrying my own water bottle & cutlery, buying refills when I can etc) but although I have a long way to go, I think being a minimalist helps.

    In the past few years my buying habits have drastically changed: I try to buy ‘stuff’ only when I have to and when I do I try to find the most sustainable option. Even for presents I try to give experiences, plants grown from my own cuttings, or home baked goodies, and if I buy a product I want it to be something the recipient will really like and value…and doesn’t come in a package full of plastic and cardboard!

  4. This is inspiring! I’m fairly new to striving toward this lifestyle and my family’s biggest challenge is switching from processed to whole foods, but it’s worth the struggle 🙂 It’s also helpful to hear that making your own beauty products don’t take too long. Your tips give me courage to keep going! Thank you!

    1. Totally worth the struggle!!! Whole food is so important. Yes, you’ll get the hang of scheduling it too. I don’t make anything that won’t last at least two months. I’ve had my deodorant for almost four months now. Sustainability is key!

  5. I’m a mum to two rowdy kids under 5, and I just wanted to say to other mums – be brave, you can do it! It can take longer with kids. I am rural and zero waste is not on the radar here – explaining / convincing the grocery store employees takes up the most time. But for the rest we make a game / teaching moment. It gives my 2 year old a chance to practice counting loose fruit and veg into fabric bags, and my 4 year old makes a game of finding the packaging free versions of the items on our list. We talk about why we are avoiding plastic / packaging, what animals are impacted by garbage, all sorts of things. Make a game of it and have fun. Good luck!

  6. I have been looking for tips for buy bulk spices. Where I live there is a bulk barn and they provide plastic bags. How would you package the fine powders, like flour, spices and such?

    1. Bulk barn now let’s you bring your own containers provided they are washed and you stop by the cash and have them weighed first. Just don’t make the mistake I did… don’t spend the extra on their reusables, they will still make you weigh them a head of time or charge you for the weight of them.
      Fyi stores like bulk barn still have packaging before they pit everything in the plastic bins.

    2. I would use a mason jar! Just have them weigh it before it is filled and they can tare the jar out when you are at the register! I do that with a large container for sugar at my local coop!

  7. Money. When one goes to food banks a lot of it is packaged crap. Just one more reason I wish I could work as a farmer or on a homestead.

  8. So far the biggest struggle for us has been finding meat and dairy products. We have one store with an actual deli that offers meat without packaging, but they wont let you bring your own either for "sanitary reasons". They put everything in ziplock bags. Drives me bonkers! I have to find a local butcher shop. Otherwise composting also cut down on probably 75% of our waste too! We went from throwing out 2 full and leaking, gross garbage bags per week down to half of one bag every other week, just with starting a compost bin. Amazing!

  9. I truly want to move towards a zero waste lifestyle. My boyfriend and I have implemented certain things such as going paperless in the kitchen, taking our own Togo containers out to eat, using stainless steel straws and other small things. Most of our waste is food packaging waste. And I am having a horrible time with it. I recycle what I can but a lot is left over, and the closest bulk food store to our tiny little town is 5 and 1/2 hours away. We go as often as we can and stock up but we inevitably run out before we are able to make another trip.

  10. This is so true! I am starting my zero waste adventure because I have been fascinated by all the efforts people make to produce less waste and make our planet a cleaner place. Your blog is very inspiring! I agree that there is nothing that should hold anybody back from at least trying this way of life. I have a very amateurish sewing and DIY blog but I already know that in my country there are a lot of people interested in ecology and I will try to share my experiences with them. I started with sewing cloth shopping bag and reusable cotton pads, not a lot but it’s just a start. Great content, thank you for inspiration!

  11. Hi! I am trying to reduce my waste production but am struggling to find bulk options where I live in Tennessee. It tends to just be nuts and grains available, if anything. In your pantry picture I noticed you have crackers and sprinkles in mason jars… where did you find those in bulk/packaging free? I’d love to find a good option and I don’t see myself making my own crackers any time soon. 🙂 Thanks!

  12. I see there are crackers in a jarswhere did the plastic go to get those crackers? Is there abulk store you can buy them at?

  13. Some members of our family have Celiac Disease and are ultra sensitive to gluten so we never buy in bulk. The risk of cross-contamination is great and we have no idea how or where the food was grown, how it was harvested, whether or not it was processed in a gluten-free facility, how it came to market, and how it was packaged before dumping into bins. I have asked people who stock these bins if they have answers, but they don’t really know.

    1. I don’t know if this helps you but there are bulk online stores. The one I like most is organic matters they are not zero waste but it’s less packaging.

  14. I will adopt the habit of carrying a napkin with me, thank you so much for the inspiration! I was also inspired by your articles not to use paper towels, but napkins and now trying to use small napkins (I have cut a napkin in 10 pieces) when going to toilet. Thank you so much! You really change the world around you with your articles!

  15. My daughters have been encouraging me to go waste free for a long time! In the past year I’ve changed my habits one at a time, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I love to garden and I’ve been composting for years now, so that’s been easy. I stopped buying paper products except tissue (this is my next habit to change) along with making my own cleaning supplies. I think there are some things we are going to purchase that have some waste. I don’t buy a lot of prepackaged foods, if I do I simply look to see if I could recycle it. In the past year I’ve reduced my trash to 1-2 small bags a week and my recycling bin is getting under control. It’s easy, just take baby steps.