What are the advanced zero waste tips that most people don’t mention? We all know the basic ones – get a reusable water bottle, bamboo toothbrush, avoid single-use plastics, etc. But are there more, not those obvious actions that you can do?
In this post, we will observe that question, and some “invisible” waste streams, like electricity, water, and diet. There’s no need to rush into things and start from scratch by throwing everything out, then buying all of the “green” products that you see advertised. In fact, with a few adjustments living a zero waste lifestyle is very possible.
Table of Contents
- 1. Reuse food scraps
- 2. Canning
- 3. Composting
- 4. Trade things
- 5. Sustainable energy
- 6. Avoid unsustainable products
- 7. Buy LESS NEW electronics
- 8. Stop short distance flying
- 9. DIY foods that you can’t find plastic-free
- 10. Eat more plants
- 11. Takeaway food in your reusable container
- 12. Use a microplastic filter
- 13. Create a local group
- 14. Avoiding using a dryer
- 15. Buying in bulk
- 16. DIY stuff
- 17. Sell your car (if you have one)
- 18. Recycle paper at home
- 19. Cook from scratch
- 20. Water collection
- 21. Upcycle items
- 22. Solar panels
- 23. Campaigning for green candidates
1. Reuse food scraps
This is one of the easier advanced zero waste tips. There are plenty of ways to reuse things first before throwing them away.
- You can roast apple or potato peels for a crunchy snack!
- You can use broccoli stems for baking, stir-fries, or raw in salads.
- You can use leftover pickle juice to quickly pickle different veggies by heating the remaining pickle juice in a small pot until it starts boiling. Then add whatever veggies you want to pickle. Once it cools off, pop it in the fridge and wait a few hours.
- Use stale bread to make crunchy croutons for soups and salads!
- Make a veggie broth by using onion peels, carrot peels, celery stems, etc.
- Regrowing veggies/Start a garden
- Growing most of your food is a fantastic zero waste step. Yet, not everybody has the space or the time. But you can still start small!
There are several vegetables that you can quickly regrow, plus you can start growing your herbs.
Canning is a great way to reduce food and packaging waste. The shelf-life is up to a year, and it doesn’t require any refrigeration. Plus, it is a guilt-free way to enjoy foods, like strawberries, when they are out of season!
A lot of people that are just starting with zero waste are open to start composting, too. Yet, a lot are pretty intimidated by the idea.
The truth is that you can start composting, even if you live in a small apartment, and it is easier than you think!
4. Trade things
Think about it, instead of paying money for something, you can trade things that you don’t use anymore. There are many cool websites where you can easily trade your own things.
5. Sustainable energy
This one should be relatively easy. Contact your electricity suppliers directly and ask where they source their energy.
Green energy providers will give you peace of mind that your energy comes from green or renewable sources, like solar power, hydropower, or wind power.
6. Avoid unsustainable products
Some products and companies are destroying our planet and creating tons of waste on the way.
In the beginning, it may be harder to know which are these companies, but as a more advanced zero waste advocate, you should already know a bunch of companies you should avoid.
That can be:
- Fast fashion brands.
- Personal care products, cleaning products, and foods with palm oil/
- Huge corporations.
7. Buy LESS NEW electronics
E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing waste stream; the amount is estimated to increase to 52.2 million metric tonnes by 2021.
The E–waste is increasing due to the constant growth of new advancing technology and products.
The mentality of many people is to use something for a short time, to buy the latest models, and if something breaks, to get a new one, instead of fixing it. From there, we have tons of electronics that are going to the landfill.
8. Stop short distance flying
Flying is convenient, but it is terrible for our planet, so whenever possible, try to find an alternative way to travel.
Anyway, try to see if you can travel by bus, a train, or by sharing a ride with someone. It will most likely be cheaper, too.
If there is no way to avoid air travel – don’t beat yourself up. You can offset your carbon emissions if you have to take a long-distance flight.
9. DIY foods that you can’t find plastic-free
Various foods sometimes are impossible to find plastic-free. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice yourself and not eat your favorite snacks!
You can make a lot of zero waste foods easily, with a few ingredients! Some ideas include:
- Flapjacks/energy bars
- Dips like hummus or avocado spread
- Nut milk
- Nut butter
10. Eat more plants
As you probably know – animal agriculture is devastating for our planet, and the more we reduce our animal consumption – the better.
If you aren’t vegan, you can just start to minimize your animal product consumption. If you feel a bit experimental, try to go entirely plant-based for a few weeks.
You can see if you like it, how it will make you feel, or simply to explore zero waste and yummy recipes.
11. Takeaway food in your reusable container
Although you can use old plastic tupperware containers to get takeaway food in, these are more likely to hold smells and are more prone to staining and start looking scratched and unclean after a while. This is why we prefer zero waste containers made from metal, glass or fabric. They look cleaner and more acceptable.
Different containers work for different takeaways! Think about what you will be asking the server to put into your reusable container and make sure you take one that they will be able to put it in. Will it be big enough? Will it contain your food without creating a mess?
If it’s your first time, we recommend choosing something that can obviously and easily be gotten in your own container to get your confidence up. Things like sandwiches, burgers, bagels, donuts, and pastries are all easy to put into any container as they are solid and a specific size.
12. Use a microplastic filter
Every time you do your laundry, your clothes release hundreds of thousands of microfibers–aka tiny plastics. They eventually end up in our waterways.
NYC alone has around 6.8 BILLION microfibers flowing into its harbor each day.
That’s why a microplastic filter is an excellent idea since it can catch the microfibers.
13. Create a local group
This can help you educate people by sharing the things you know, and you can do other activities, such as meetups and cleanups.
You can even create workshops, in which you can teach people basic things like how to create DIY toothpaste or body lotion, or even a bit harder stuff, like recycling paper (more about it below!).
14. Avoiding using a dryer
Another simple zero waste tip, that’s pretty straightforward.
Dryers are using a lot of energy, so by air-drying everything, you will save up energy. And money, too.
15. Buying in bulk
This is quite basic, but I don’t mean just nuts, grains, and other food. You can buy in bulk things like pet food, coffee, (office) paper, toilet paper, laundry detergent, cooking oil, etc.
16. DIY stuff
This can be anything – laundry detergent, toothpaste, body creams, soaps, etc!
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to do EVERYTHING by yourself.
Most people need to go to work. Even if it will be very cool to DIY most things, it is not realistic, and practical. Find a handful of things that seem manageable to you, and try them one by one!
17. Sell your car (if you have one)
This is a big one! You can sell your car and use public transport, or even bicycling.
This zero-waste tip might not apply to everyone. But there are a lot of benefits when you are car-free:
- You will save money.
- You will reduce your overall carbon emissions.
- You can live healthier if you start using your bike.
- You can rent a car, whenever you really need it!
18. Recycle paper at home
Recycling paper is more on the advanced side and is also a zero waste lifestyle. If you are interested, you can give it a try.
It is not the easiest but also not the hardest thing. Plus, it can be super fun and creative activity!
19. Cook from scratch
This is more on the advanced side, because even though you might be able to get some foods plastic-free, you can still choose to cook them from scratch!
This can be beans/legumes, bread, pasta, pesto, apple cider vinegar, etc.!
If you love to cook, that won’t be a problem, and it may be a fun activity, in which you experiment by preparing things you never did before!
20. Water collection
Depending on your area/state regulations, you can collect rainwater and use it for different things, such as watering your garden.
If you can’t do that, collecting water while you shower is another simple way to preserve and reuse water.
21. Upcycle items
Recycling centers do not accept some things, and even if they do, there is a high chance that a lot of recyclable materials will end up in the landfill.
You can get creative your zero waste ideas and instead of hoping things get recycled, to upcycle them by yourself.
22. Solar panels
Even though the initial cost of purchasing a solar system, it will be reasonably high, the truth is that solar panels have dropped in price considerably over the last few years.
It is a fantastic investment since you will get your energy from renewable sources, plus it will reduce your energy bills, and it is beneficial for the environment.
It’s estimated that 16 solar panels are the average that a regular household needs to cover all electrical power needs. So, the end price might be pretty manageable.
Overall, if you have some extra cash, you can research a bit more about it and decide if this option is doable for you.
23. Campaigning for green candidates
The truth is that our most significant environmental and waste issues are systemic, not personal.
Even though personal change is needed, we can tackle bigger problems, too.
Campaigning for green candidates can be huge, since if the elected leaders prioritize green actions like composting and recycling facilities, banning single-use plastics, etc., it can have an incredible positive impact.
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