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3 Easy Ways to Go Zero Waste and Cut Your Trash by 80%

Zero Waste Lifestyle

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

Going zero waste isn’t rocket science. It’s also not about producing ZERO waste.

You can read more about this tricky term in my post What is Zero Waste? What is the Circular Economy?

Zero waste is an industrial term.

You can still get your business certified zero waste / closed loop / circular economy (they all mean the same thing!) and what it means is a 90% diversion from landfill.

The fact of the matter is that it’s impossible to go completely zero waste because we don’t live in a circular economy but rather a linear one.

I’m not going to bore you with all the facts, but if you’re intrigued be sure to check the blog post out above!

No, no rather you’re here to learn how you can cut 80% of your waste just by doing three simple things! And, we’ll get there in one mome.

Because, first I’d like to introduce you to our sponsor! This post was sponsored by Arbor Teas. All thoughts and opinions are my own for more information please see my disclosure policy.

Y’all. You know I love Arbor Teas and I’m going to hit all the high points with a bullet blitz! BULLET BLITZ

  • Only tea brand to offer loose leaf tea in backyard compostable packaging!
  • They package in cellulose making the switch from canisters reduced the carbon footprint of their packages by 60% (AMAZING!)
  • They package all of their teas in a solar powered building
  • All of their shipments are offset carbon neutral
  • They source their teas from organic, biodynamic, and regenerative farms.
  • They have plastic free matcha. I repeat PLASTIC FREE MATCHA.
  • They are just genuinely the nicest people on the face of the planet.
  • And, their teas are just freaking amazing!

As I write this blog post, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, my apple tree is in bloom, I’m drinking their Organic English Breakfast Tea with a few drops of CBD oil and it feels like a perfect morning.

I have performed several waste audits in people’s homes. My parents love me when I come to visit.

I always check their local waste management website and go through their trash and recycling to make sure they’re doing everything correctly. (Friends and family just love me.)

They’re typically always doing pretty well probably because they know I’m coming.

But, if that’s what it takes to get perfectly sorted bins – then SO BE IT.

But, while performing these waste audits I’ve seen several recurring themes.

While I tend to view zero waste as more of a choose your own adventure because everyone creates different types of trash there are some universal heavy hitters.

RELATED: How to Perform a Waste Audit

1. organic material:

Did you see this one coming? 60% of the average American family’s trash is full of organic matter. This is one of those disconnect areas.

I think most people know that they SHOULD compost, but they don’t because they don’t have the time or energy to learn more about composting in their area.

I’m going to make it so simple for you!

If you can just block out 30 minutes in your schedule, sit down and read both of these blog posts, you will be able to find a composting solution for you – I just know it!

Composting is not as scary as it sounds and it is so important.

Organic material (food scraps, newsprint, hair, nail clippings, organic cotton tampons etc) can’t breakdown in landfills because they’re not aerated properly.

16% of all methane emissions in the US come from landfills and methane is around 30% more powerful than CO2.

When we talk about climate change this has to do with gasses that warm our atmosphere.

The most common one we hear about is carbon (CO2) but the fact is there are a lot of other more powerful gasses that can stay in our atmosphere much longer even for thousands of years like hydrofluorocarbons.

You can read more about this in the blog post on Where to Buy Carbon Offsets.

2. food packaging:

I try not to harp on food packaging because I know this is a really hard one for a lot of people.

In fact, a lot of people don’t want to go zero waste because they don’t have bulk stores available which I think is really sad because remember… it’s not about being perfect it’s just about doing the best you can!

Or in true blog motto, “It’s not about perfection; it’s about making better choices.”

Of course, if you have bulk bins and package free food near you, definitely try and opt for that! You can read more in my blog post The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Grocery Shopping.

If you don’t have any bulk bins or zero waste stores near you then be sure to check out my post How to Shop Without Bulk Bins and 15 Ways to Be Zero Waste Without a Bulk Store (because zero waste is so much more than package-free food!)

However, since most of us go grocery shopping once a week, it would stand to reason that one of the biggest sources of trash that we would produce would come from food and food related packaging.

I’m not going to tell you just to shop package free, I’m going to recommend that you switch to a whole food, plant based diet.

What I like about this recommendation is that it’s not going to deprive you of anything per-se.

Maybe you just really want a pop-tart one day or you really want to celebrate a big occasion with a steak.

This won’t cut you off from any food groups but will help you move to a diet made up of mostly whole and fresh foods.

This means mostly plants like fruits, veggies, and grains which is inherently healthier and one that naturally reduces packaging.

Plus, eating this way also creates a drastic improvement in your carbon footprint!

So, you’ve heard all of the health gurus say it time and time again – shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

And, try to make a few of your own staples like homemade nut milk and peanut butter.

Throw in a few hours of meal prep on the weekend and you’ve got yourself EASY plant based meals ready to serve up and eat in a matter of minutes.

This week I baked 5 sweet potatoes, made a big batch of mango, banana smoothies (yes you can freeze a week’s worth of smoothies!) and made a huge batch of vegetarian chili that is just OMG.

And, now I’ve got breakfast and lunch taken care of for the week with just by spending an hour in the kitchen knocking things out.

If you’re still feeling lost on ditching food packaging, then check out the zero waste grocery store challenge at Grocery Outlet and Target that I ran with several other friends!

3. paper towels:

Idk what it is about paper towels, but this swap is an area that people just want to fight me on.

It’s honestly absurd the amount of paper towels the average family goes through most of which are entirely unnecessary.

Like when people use paper towels to dry their hands. *CRINGE*

So, I’ve created a handy blog post for you called 6 Tips for Breaking Up With Paper Towels, there’s also a video if you prefer video content!

Well, that’s it! With tree simple and easy swaps you should be well on your way to cutting out 80% of your trash.

Also a big shout out to the sponsor of this post – Arbor Teas!!

Have you done a waste audit? I’d love to know the bulk of what you find in your trash can.

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  1. I’m not zero waste yet, but it takes me two months to fill up a 13 gallon kitchen trash bag, so not too bad. We compost here as well, and recycle. I don’t buy a lot of stuff anyways, I’m really minimalist.

  2. I have a question about paper towels. Is eliminating them more about what goes into producing them? If you buy the ones not wrapped in plastic, and you compost them, are they still in the top items to eliminate? My husband loves them, although he’s slowly getting on board with replacing them with cloth.

  3. Just came across your website as I begin my journey (dragging my husband kicking and screaming a long the way) to a whole food, zero waste lifestyle. I have already said goodbye to paper towels and going more toward cloth. It was the one thing I told my husband and he didn’t seem to fight that too much. I haven’t seen a paper towel role being used in our house much. It feels great, and I decided to get more into it. Next step is to reorganize the fridge, and get into food prep once or twice a week so we can have healthy snacks. Looking at reusable ziplock bags that can go in the dishwasher because this is one of our worst habits. Ziplock bags are awesome, the waste is bugging me.

  4. In addition to Arbor Teas, may I also suggest Mountain Rose Herbs?
    They also sell plastic-free matcha in a glass jar, and their Sustainability page makes it clear they’re not just paying lip service. They have tons of details on their efforts to reduce energy use, go zero waste as a facility, promote sustainable farming efforts that improve biodiversity and support small farmers, and volunteer locally.
    They have a broader range of products, including a variety of herbs and spices. Arbor Teas also looks great for the more tea-oriented shopper like myself (So. Much. Tea.)