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20 Easy Tips to Cut Down on Waste

Our consumer industry has trained us to adopt a wasteful, throwaway lifestyle. Go into any store and see how many items are wrapped, boxed, or enclosed in single-use throwaway packaging. Unfortunately, while such a lifestyle is good for short-term corporate profits, it's far from sustainable and has thus led to our global waste crisis.

Today we will be sharing 20 easy tips that you can implement in your daily life to significantly cut down the waste you create. Remember, there is no such thing as "zero" waste. You must simply aim to do your best!


  • For your next takeout order, ask restaurants to leave out the plastic bags, containers and utensils: call the restaurant ahead of time and tell them you are bringing your own container. Ask them if they can plate the dish as though you were eating there so that when you arrive you can transfer the dish into your containers and bring your dish back to enjoy with your reusable utensils and napkins!
  • Get the minimum of what you think you need at the grocery store: When going to the supermarket, many shoppers buy more than they need for a variety of reasons. An easy tip to avoid doing this is to make a simple list of your phone of what you actually need and stick to that list. This will save you from creating food waste and it will also save you money!
  • Have friends over to eat your leftovers: Having excessive leftovers from a meal can be annoying especially when the meal you made was not your favorite. Rather than storing the leftovers in your fridge and waiting until they go bad, text your friends and neighbors and see if they would like some!
  • Regrow your food scraps: there are a number of vegetables you can regrow right in your own home! This saves you from creating food waste and money. Stay tuned for an article on which veggies you can regrow from good scraps coming to the ZWK blog soon!
  • Go thrift shopping or buy used clothes: Thrift shopping can be a super fun activity to do with friends and it’s almost always much cheaper than buying retail! Buying used clothes ensures that you are not demanding any new resources from the environment as you are given discarded previously-owned clothes a second life.
  • Donate anything around the house you think you won’t use: Go through your home and clean through you no longer want or need. Then organize the items in boxes and give them away to people you know, sell the items on an app like OfferUp and/or give the items away to donation centers.
  • Eat more plants: Everyone needs to eat more plants not only for our health, but also for a sustainable planet! Eating meat means consuming more biomass and therefore more natural resources and greenhouse gases that coincide with raising cattle and other livestock.
  • Adopt composting: Composting helps keep vegetable matter out of landfills. Not only does composting keep landfills from filling up prematurely, it minimizes the pollution they create. Plant matter doesn't decay cleanly when placed in landfills. The layers of trash burying the plant matter create an anaerobic environment. This airless environment causes the plant matter, as it decays, to produce methane gas as it decays. This potent greenhouse gas is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Consequently, composting helps minimize landfills' contribution to climate change.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle wherever you go: You never know when you’re going to get thirsty and feel the need to buy a single-use water bottle. However, you can easily avoid this by bringing a reusable water bottle in your car, bag or purse wherever you go.
  • Switch to a bamboo toothbrush and safety razor: Instead of going through multiple plastic toothbrushes and razors, consider buying a compostable toothbrush and reusable safety razor that don’t require constant replacements. 
  • Record notes on electronics rather than paper: Whenever you need to make a reminder, write something in a calendar, make a list, or write down notes for work or a meeting, it can all be done on your computer or phone! In this case, there’s often no need to waste sheets of paper.
  • Buy quality over quantity: Going to places such as the 99 cent store can be fun and tempting, but those products will have a much shorter use of life than more expensive ones from a higher quality store. In other words, you want things to last rather than having to constantly cycle through new ones while wasting the old products.
  • When in doubt, don’t use a straw: The next time you order a latte, smoothie, or drink of any kind, either bring your own reusable straw or consider sipping without one. Find our disabilities-friendly ZWK straw here! 
  • Participate in community clean-ups: This is a great way to get involved in your local community, meet new people, and also cut the waste that affects your entire community!
  • Bring reusable produce bags to the grocery store: It’s so easy to want to use those little plastic bags when buying apples, carrots, or other produce, but you can simply keep tiny reusable bags of the same size in your car for whenever you go to the grocery store.
  • Unsubscribe from unnecessary mail: Have you ever checked your mail box and seen several envelopes that you know you’ll immediately throw out? Well, if this happens to you, simply call or email the provider and unsubscribe, so you don’t have to waste unnecessary paper. Also consider following these steps offered by Eco Cycle!
  • Make trash into art: There are so many bowls, containers, and decorations that can be made out of trash! Think about reusing cans for flower pots, berry containers for jewelry boxes, etc.
  • Recycle your electronics: Nowadays there are frequently new versions of phones and other electronics on the market. Our advice: use your devices until you cannot anymore, and when you have to upgrade, recycle your electronics. For the step-by-step process, follow these easy steps by Consumer Reports!
  • Make your own face masks: Face masks are just one example of a fun self-care activity to do on a night in, so make it zero waste by using ingredients you already have in your kitchen instead of buying small plastic bottles from the store.
  • Try to buy food at local farmers markets: Going to the supermarket to buy produce is alright, but make it fresher, tastier, and more sustainable by buying from a farmers market since locally sourced foods yield fewer emissions from transportation as well as fewer plastic containers.
  • Lastly, one of the most important actions is to spread these tips and ideas to your friends, family and peers, as trends can spread super quickly with positivity and intention!

    Thanks for joining us for another blog post on the {Zero} Waste Kit blog! We hope you feel inspired to bust out your Zero Waste Kit and begin dining out (and in) like a zero waste badass. If you have any questions or comments be sure to leave them below. Lastly, don’t forget to share this post with someone who would appreciate it! 




    Say hello to our guest author, Jason! Jason is attending Emory University and is studying Business and Environmental Management. He loves skiing, the environment, and his foodie lifestyle, brought to life by his Instagram @eats.byjay.


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