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

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.

3 easy ways to go zero waste and cut your trash by 80% from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #gogreen #sustainability #trash #wasteaudit #sustainablehome

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 isn’t going to cut you off from any food groups but is going to move you to a 90% whole, fresh food, diet made up of mostly plants i.e. fruits, veggies, and grains which is inherently healthier and one that just naturally reduces the amount of packaging that you’ll acquire.

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.

How to Build an Eco-Friendly Emergency Kit

I have witnessed some crazy wildfires in California over the last two years. The Atlas and Patrick fires both burned less than 15 miles from my home in 2017.

As someone who's lost everything to fire before, it was an incredibly uneasy and tense time.

How to build a zero waste emergency kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #emergencykit #emergencies #emergencypreparedness #beprepared #prep #gogreen

Growing up my biggest fear was always fire. I think it's a common fear among children, but every night I would pack a backpack full of my favorite things and hang it on my doorknob. After doing this for several weeks, my mom asked me, "Why do you do pack a backpack before bed?"

And, I responded with rock-solid toddler logic, "In case there's a fire." While there was no need to be afraid of any immediate fire, 19 years later my house did burn down.

Thankfully no one was hurt, but I lost almost everything I had.

The fires in California are starting to feel like regular occurrences, and it's got me thinking about being prepared for an emergency.

Maybe there'll be a big earthquake? Maybe there'll be a fire? Perhaps I won’t be affected by any of these things, I don’t know, but I want to try and be prepared.

Since I write a blog about being eco-friendly, I thought it'd be fun to try and round up some zero waste items for building up your emergency preparedness kit!

Obviously, it will be pretty impossible to have an entirely zero waste emergency kit, but I’ve tried my best to round up some of the reusable and recyclable products I’m stocking.

How to build a zer owaste emergency kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #emergencykit #emergency #zerowaste #ecofriendly #beprepared

According to ready.gov here's a list of what you need in your emergency kit:

How to build a zer owaste emergency kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #emergencykit #emergency #zerowaste #ecofriendly #beprepared

water:

Bottled water is ideal in times of emergency because natural disasters can contaminate the water supply. It’s recommended that you have a gallon of water per person in your household for three days because you can’t always count on your water being potable.

After seeing a lot of people evacuate their homes, I think it’s best to have a large source of water in case you’re stuck at home, but also individual bottles so you can grab and go.

individual:

I’ve been looking for individual bottles to put inside of my emergency backpack and am so glad I discovered PATHWATER they donate 5% of their profits to non-profit organizations that fight to end plastic waste. One of the first things I look for when supporting companies, is that they give back.

The other upside to this bottle is that it’s meant to be refilled!! It’s like a reusable/disposable water bottle hybrid which I think would be great in case of an emergency. They sell the bottles at 7-Eleven and Safeway.

in bulk:

As far as larger sources of water at home, I’ll be buying several of the large 5 gallon bottles that can be refilled. Since I don’t have space for a bulky water cooler, I’m looking into buying a spout that will attach to the bottles.

How to build a zer owaste emergency kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #emergencykit #emergency #zerowaste #ecofriendly #beprepared

food:

I feel fortunate where I currently live; we have a wood burning stove that’s the primary source of heat for the house. The top of the furnace has burners on it so you could cook in the home without electricity or gas.

Living a zero waste lifestyle, I have a lot of dried foods like oatmeal, beans, rice, etc. so we’d be able to make food for a couple of weeks.

While we don’t usually eat canned food, I definitely have a stockpile in case! I also kept my manual can opener from my PZW days!

The problem is if I had to evacuate, there’s no way I could bring a lot of that food with me because it would be too heavy. I’ve opted for some higher calorie energy bars like Clif Bars that can be sent back through a TerraCycle program.

In the same vein, it would be pretty easy for Nala if we were stuck at home. If we had to travel, I have grabbed a bag of freeze dried food from Open Farm (our pet food of choice) because they’re also partnered with Terracycle.

small electronics:

I have a portable hand crank radio and flashlight which eliminates the need for batteries! Not only is this good from an environmental perspective, but it’s also practical. If your batteries die and you don’t have replacements, what are you going to do?

If you can hand crank and power the device, you don’t have to worry about running out of power.

first aid kit:

I have a small first aid kit in my emergency backpack which is designed for travel. But, if you’re looking to build a more extensive eco-friendly first aid kit be sure to check out the blog post!

How to build a zer owaste emergency kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #emergencykit #emergency #zerowaste #ecofriendly #beprepared

dust masks:

During the fires the air quality was terrible. It was raining ash on more than one occasion, and everyone recommended N95 masks which were, OF COURSE, sold out everywhere. Getting your hands on a mask was tough. Thankfully, my boss in 2017 had gotten some for everyone in the office, and I was smart and saved them.

Technically the N95 masks are disposable one-time use masks, but we kept reusing ours because it was better than nothing. I saw a few people walking around with some intense looking masks. They looked a little like Bane from Batman. After researching those masks, I found they were reusable!

I bought two of those, they’re vogmasks, for our backpack, so we don’t have to worry about purchasing disposable ones anymore.

While it’s great that this is environmentally friendly, I also chose this for health reasons. If we have to evacuate, having one mask we can reuse over and over means less weight in the backpack and one less thing to worry about.

disposables:

I think in an emergency having a pack of wet wipes is a great idea. I’ve opted for some biodegradable wipes. I don’t know much about wet wipes, so I’m not entirely sure they are the most eco choice, but I do know that no matter what - you shouldn’t flush them!

But,  I also have duct tape, a few trash bags, and zip ties. None of these things are zero waste but could be important. (Zero waste is an idea or a goal your health and well-being ALWAYS come first)

I bought 500 trash bags at Costco a year before I went zero waste, and I still have SO many leftover. I use them mostly for litter cleanups. I think it’s pretty hilarious that people always call me out for having plastic trash bags when I pick up litter… but they are the most effective way of holding trash. And, I have about 457 left so I might as well use them for good!

I also have a pack of pads and tampons from my PZW days that I’ve put in my emergency backpack. If I had to evacuate, I can’t foresee an instance where I’d be able to rinse and dry my Thinx.

My pads and tampons are generic since it’s what I had before I went zero waste, but if you’re buying some new try and opt for organic. I also think a cup would be a pretty good option since they don't require a lot of water to clean.

How to build a zer owaste emergency kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #emergencykit #emergency #zerowaste #ecofriendly #beprepared

clothing:

We have a pair of plastic ponchos, and I’m pulling together a few items of clothing for both Justin and me. Having a few pairs of undies, socks, thick leggings, and a pullover would be ideal. Wool is my preferred fabric of choice (except for the undies) because it’s a high-performance natural fiber that helps to regulate body heat. I’m scouring thrift stores for these items, but haven’t managed to buy everything I need.

emergency binder:

I’m also working to pull together an emergency binder that has a copy of our important documents like health insurance, drivers licenses, passports, marriage license, cash, etc.

From what I’ve read, it’s also a great idea to put this info on a thumb drive and store it in a safety deposit box, so that’s something I need to do too.

My kit isn’t perfect yet; I’m about half-way there. I’m not going to lie planning for all of this is a little overwhelming. I’m certainly not going overboard by any stretch of the imagination, but still, it’s a bit anxiety-inducing to think about. In the end, I’d rather be prepared than not prepared in case something does happen.

Have you made an emergency kit? Have you considered trying to make it more eco-friendly?

 
How to build an eco friendly emergency kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #emergencykit #emergency #zerowaste #ecofriendly #beprepared
 

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste

I am so excited to announce my first book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste! I am so proud of this book. It's everything I wish I had when I started going zero waste.

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste is a non-judgmental, beginners handbook for eco-friendly and sustainable living. It's 101 tips + a bunch of never before seen recipes for beauty, cleaning, and food scraps.

Now, I’ve been asked a bunch of questions about the book and I want to clear a few of them up!

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #sustainable

win a signed copy & a Pela case!

You may or may not know, but I work for Pela. I’m their content creator so I write their blog posts and Sustainability Saturday email series.

Pela makes compostable phone cases that support different causes like Save the Waves, Oceana, and Surfrider. I have a penguin case… of course. ;)

You can check out this blog post, What’s in a Zero Waster’s Bag, I did with them way before I ever became an employee!

You can enter to win a Zero Waste Bundle on their website!

tell me about the book!

It’s a super easy to digest handbook full of 101 tips. You can read it cover to cover or just jump to the page/question that you need to read.

It’s the handbook I wish I had when I started going zero waste. It’s kind, non-judgmental and full of tips, tricks, and never before seen recipes.

If you remember, I used to be the DIY queen with tons of popular recipes like my zero waste mouthwash, eucalyptus showers, and homemade Febreze, but I’ve been saving all of my NEW recipes for the book.

Think homemade floor cleaner, botanical perfume, and a whitening toothpowder that’s so good my dentist got upset thinking I went somewhere else to get my teeth done for the wedding.

And, only one tip is grocery shopping, so if you don’t live in an area with a bulk store or a lot of package free options you don’t have to worry.

The book is dedicated in honor of my grandmother. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know when I started the blog she was one of my biggest influences and inspirations, but she passed almost two years ago now.

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #sustainable

what’s the big deal about pre-orders?

If you’ve seen me on social, then you know I’ve been chatting about pre-orders. Pre-orders are a BIG deal to make best seller lists. The catch, of course, is that the pre-orders have to be physical copies.

Best Seller Lists don’t count e-books or audio books which is super unfortunate, and I wish it weren’t that way.

how can I buy the book?

There are several ways.

Your local bookstore: This is my favorite way! You can call your local bookstore to pre-order and then go in store to pick it up. This of course is the easiest way to get the book without an extra packaging. Check out which local bookstores are carrying the book near you with Indiebound.

Amazon: If you pre-order the book on Amazon you can get it 30% off. My publishers have left explicit notes to package without plastic! Of course, there’s no guarantee, but we’re trying our best to ensure that.

A couple of people have asked, “Why even sell on Amazon when they’re such a wasteful company?” Well, it’s pretty much impossible to sell a book a not have it on Amazon. If you aren’t a fan of Amazon, there are other ways to order.

Barnes and Noble: You can pre-order the book at Barnes and Noble and also get 30% off, but I’m not sure if you can pre-order and pick it up in store. You can of course head to your B&N on April 2nd. I’ve heard that they are going to create a nice Earth Day display and my book will be included!

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #sustainable

how is the book printed?

The book is printed on a mixture of recycled paper and forest service certified paper. FSC certified forests meet the highest environmental and social standards.

is the book plastic free?

Yep! The cover is not laminated it is paper which means the whole book is recyclable/compostable. But, obviously the book is reusable!! So, hopefully you won’t ever get to that point but instead you can pass it along to a friend, relative, donate or sell it.

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #ecofriendly #sustainable

why did you do this?

Of course, writing an eco-friendly blog I knew these comments would come. These comments are in an extreme minority. I don’t take stock in them, but I figured they should be addressed.

Comments like, “What about the trees? What about the zero waste? You are not being zero waste at all…” etc.

I want my book to reach as many people as possible. I want my book to affect change in as many people as possible. The best way to do that is with traditional PR and a traditional publisher which means real, printed books.

The book is printed on recycled paper and trees from a certified sustainable forest which is a renewable resource that captures carbon from the atmosphere.

The book is not a single-use disposable item, and if we were to compare e-readers to books, (this would be a great blog post!) we’d find it’s more emission heavy to create the e-reader than it is to buy 100 physical books. (source)

but you write a blog?

Yes! I do write a blog, and while there is some overlap (I mean how could there not be?) I do pride myself on having a created at least 80% new content and NEW recipes.

If you’ve wondered what happened to my practical, easy DIYs that work? Then be sure to check out the book! All of the new recipes I worked on for the last year are in there.

Including my favorite way to eat broccoli stems. yum.

you got unbiased reviews?

I do! I will be collecting them here as the come out.

Up first, Lauren Hannah’s review:

“It gives you all the hard facts without being preachy, and all the steps you can take to transition to a zero waste lifestyle are laid out in a way that makes them sound very doable!”


I really hope that this clears up any questions that you might have had! But, please let me know if you have anymore and I’ve be happy to answer them.

And, of course, I hope you pre-order and LOVE 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste.