by Texas Homesteader~
Are you interested in the zero-waste path? Do you wonder just where to start? Feeling a little overwhelmed?
Well don’t worry, living a more zero-waste lifestyle doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. None of us can truly be ZERO waste, ya know?
It’s important to remember that like most things, it’s not an ‘all or nothing‘ decision. You can pick & choose the areas most important to you and still make a real impact.
The beautiful thing about edging toward zero waste? Most of the time it typically actually SAVES you money! Here are some simple tips to effortlessly reduce your waste each & every day.
(Note: Some links in this post are for further information from earlier posts I’ve written. But links preceded with * are affiliate links, if you click them and buy something (almost anything, not just the item noted) I could receive a tiny commission. But the price you pay will NOT change. It’s an easy way to support this blog without anything coming out of your pocket so click often! Thank you!)
Paper or Plastic? Neither!
Cities all over America are banning single-use plastics. And I for one say HUZZAH!
Many people are becoming painfully aware of the environmental cost of all those single-use plastic shopping bags. And sadly, a shockingly small percentage of plastic bags are ever actually recycled.
More & more you just find them blowing through fields or clogging our waterways.
And what about paper shopping bags, are they really any better? Sure they’re made from a more renewable resource. But they still take resources to produce and since they’re heavier they cost more to transport.
And although a few people might try to find another use for single-use shopping bags, in most cases they’re still single-use and thrown away.
So with no clear choice, what to do? Well, when that cashier asks you ‘Paper or Plastic’, answer NEITHER!
To move myself closer to a zero-waste life I first eliminated single-use shopping bags from my life and I couldn’t be happier! Those dang plastic bags used to reproduce overnight when no one was looking #amiright??!!
Now I typically carry reusable canvas bags when I’m shopping. They hold much more than a flimsy plastic bag would anyway. And the shoulder straps make them so much easier to carry too.
No more torn bags tossing my groceries to the ground!
For smaller shopping stops I have an even easier way to carry my groceries. I bring my Handmade Basket into the store.
The wide-open top means I’m comfortable accumulating my purchases and taking them to the cashier without having a large buggy with a perpetually wobbling wheel to navigate in and out of crowded store aisles.
I love my Handmade Shopping Basket & always get many compliments on it. Just planting that seed of thought with others, bebe!
After I’ve unloaded my groceries at home I’ll simply place my reusable bags or basket back in the car.
That way they always stand at the ready to be reused over & over again. Even for an unscheduled stop!
Ditch Disposables At Your Table
Disposables are convenient that’s for sure. But they rack up a cost, both in the budget as well as the environment.
Think about it: You buy them to use for a very short time & throw them away, just to repeat the cycle over & over again.
But don’t fret it’s easy to ditch the disposables at your table for zero-waste options. And you’ll get a nicer dining experience for your family to boot!
Use Real Dishes
How? Well firstly opt for real honest-to-goodness plates and flatware when serving your meals.
Our plates were mostly picked up for very little at thrift stores, although I still have plates gifted to me at my high school graduation. Let’s just say that was a loooong time ago!
Not only will using real plates offer a more satisfying dining experience but they will save the cost of buying disposable plates just to throw them away and buy them again and again.
Ditch Paper Napkins
And what about disposable paper napkins? For my family, a cloth napkin instead of crinkly disposable paper really makes a difference in the feel of even a simple meal.
Cloth napkins are very inexpensive to buy, but I’ve Made Cloth Napkins from an old unloved tablecloth or fabric scraps. Or they can even be purchased pre-loved for cheap at thrift stores.
And they last a long time, y’all. Some of our cloth napkins have been in constant use for over 20 years – even through raising our children into adulthood.
Yet most of those old napkins still look as good as new!
Cloth napkins take no additional resources for us to launder. We just toss them in our regular laundry loads.
Learn To Make Things For Yourself
I remember the light bulb moment when I first learned to make Homemade Yogurt myself. It was my very first self-sufficiency step taken decades ago.
I guess the advertising powers-that-be had me convinced back then that it was too difficult or required special industrial equipment or ingredients to make yogurt.
But it was EASY. Plus I make my yogurt in repurposed small glass jelly jars to be used again & again. So I still have single-serve convenience but no trash!
Don’t be intimidated. Start with one thing and see how easy it is to make for yourself. Then build on your goals as you gain confidence.
I’m sure you’ll find (like I did) that it’s much easier than you’d been lead to believe. And to be honest, it’s quite empowering too.
Cook From Scratch The EASY Way
Don’t Go Fancy – I get it. Not everyone has the time (or energy) to come home from work and stand in the kitchen cooking a wonderful meal from scratch.
First and most importantly, remember every meal doesn’t have to look like it came from the cover of a magazine. Modest meals are delicious and nutritious too.
So if your vision of meal perfection is keeping you from cooking from scratch, resolve to save those fancier meals for special occasions. Enjoy making simple yet healthy & delicious meals on a more frequent basis.
Cooking Shortcut: Cook-Once, Eat-Twice – One of my most-used shortcuts is Cook-Once, Eat-Twice cooking. That’s where you cook a LOT of an entrée at one time and then freeze the leftovers in dinner-sized portions.
That way a nutritious meal can be as simple as thawing a dinner-sized serving of, say, homemade meatloaf and opening a couple of cans of veggies for sides.
Shortcuts To Homemade Meals Daily – See what I mean? Delicious, nutritious homemade food, FAST. Be sure to check out my simple Shortcuts To Homemade Meals Every Day.
Repurposing Gives New Life To Old Items
I’ve already talked about turning an old, unloved tablecloth into cute country-themed cloth napkins I love. It’s a perfect example of repurposing something no longer serving its original purpose in a brand new way.
I’ve used an old hay ring no longer fit to use with the cows into a Protective Barrier around a newly-planted tree.
And I’m constantly repurposing empty coffee canisters into any number of helpful things instead of throwing them away or recycling.
You get the idea – when something around your house has outlived its usefulness, look at it with brand new eyes. Can it be used wonderfully somewhere else for a whole different purpose?
Empty coffee cans for toy storage or as a feed scoop. Spent candles made into new candles by melting the wax and adding a new wick. Or reusing that handy wide-mouth jar to hold leftovers in your refrigerator.
Compost: Black Gold For Your Garden
Don’t forget those veggie trimmings & such that you used to just toss in the trash.
Some folks save veggie trimmings in the freezer until they get a good supply of them, then use them to make veggie broth. That’s a great (and edible) repurpose for sure!
But after those veggie scraps are completely spent from making broth, don’t toss them in the trash. They can go for yet another repurpose – compost.
Gardeners know that compost is black gold in the garden. It helps plants grow stronger, healthier and be more productive. All from food scraps that used to just go into the trash!
We use a *Tumbling Composter here on the homestead. It contains the compost so as to help keep from attracting pests & flies. Plus the tumbling action helps me make usable compost faster.
But really, you can make compost from a pile on the ground! I’ve written an Easy Guide To Compost, be sure to check it out if you’re ready to begin composting.
Buy Used When Possible
Sometimes you can’t repurpose or do without something. That means there are times when you still need to buy things.
But even then, you can stack the cards in Mother Nature’s favor. RancherMan & I typically buy items used from a thrift or antique store.
Not only are our purchases typically higher quality than we’d be able to afford new, but no new whatsit needed to be manufactured to fill our need.
PLUS, typically there’s no packaging either. So this I still consider this a big fat environmental zero-waste win all the way around.
These seven tips are a quick way to get started toward a more zero-waste lifestyle. But I think you’ll find that once you take those first simple steps, the next steps are easier and even more fun – it’s addictive!
Take The Next Step
Check out the list below, you’re bound to find something new!
Zero-Waste Health & Beauty
- Zero-Waste Shaving Using A Safety Razor
- Low-Waste Snap Toothbrushes
- Homemade Minty Mouthwash
- Quick & Easy Homemade Deodorant
- MYO Light & Sheer Face Powder
- 3-Ingredient Beeswax Lip Balm
- Homemade Vanilla-Scented Shampoo Bar Soap
- 3-Ingredient DRY SHAMPOO Mix
- Homemade Hairspray
- MYO Naturally-Scented Hair Conditioner
- Morning Motivation Mint Soap
- Homemade Soap: Lavender/Rosemary
- Soap Grows On TREES! Soapberry Shampoo
- How A Bidet Can Be An Eco Win
Posts About Reducing Plastic
- Reducing Plastic Is Easy
- I Love Mother Nature So I Recycle LESS!
- 7 Ways To Reduce Plastic In The Kitchen
- Ditch The Plastic! Using Glass In The Refrigerator
- Natural Air Freshener In Reusable Glass Jar
- Reducing Plastic In Personal Hygiene: Deodorant
- No More Plastic Razors – How To Use A Safety Razor
- Where Exactly Is ‘Away’?
- Replacing Plastic Wrap With Beeswax Wraps
- Eliminate Plastic Produce Bags
Reducing Household Waste
- Repurposing Empty Coffee Containers
- Denim Repurposed Into Fun Crafts
- 5 Zero-Waste Products We Love
- Easily Reduce Or Eliminate Junkmail
- Making Your Own Pourable Sugar Jar
- Paper Napkins In A Paperless Kitchen
- Repurposing A Parmesan Cheese Lid
- Zero-Waste Hygiene
- Natural Cleaning – Homemade Laundry Detergent
…and Many More
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