How to live zero waste: The next steps

How to live zero waste- The next steps.jpg

So you’ve got the fundamentals of how to live zero waste down pat (and you’ve read Part 1 of our “How to live zero waste” series).

You’ve committed to using reusables (coffee cup, water bottle, etc) instead of single use plastic items, you’re composting your food or you’ve set up a worm farm, and you’ve got an impressive collection of glass jars, which you take with you when you do your weekly shopping at the bulk food store.

At this stage many people either experience zero waste “fatigue” – where the initial “buzz” of adopting a zero waste lifestyle has worn off and the excitement of zero waste “discoveries” (olive oil works just as well as a store bought cleanser!) begin to lessen.

Or, they look around and realise that there are still so many areas to tackle; they’re just not sure which ones to address first.

We’re here to help! Here are the next steps to take to live zero waste.

Don’t buy anything new… for now

Putting a stop to any regular purchases you make, especially clothing and homewares, will obviously reduce the amount of waste you produce.  

Just think about the average purchase made in a store. You discover the perfect sparkling cocktail dress you’ve been hunting for your whole life (even though you have about nine of the same kind of dresses in your wardrobe at home). 

You swipe your card and you’re handed a shiny (non-recyclable) shopping bag containing your newest purchase (wrapped in non-recyclable tissue paper). 

You get it home and cut the tags off (again, non-recyclable). You wear the garment once, and then it languishes in the back of your wardrobe with the other nine sparkling dresses, until 12 months later, in a Marie Kondo-like frenzy, you donate it to charity.  

All that packaging ends up in landfill, as does the dress itself most likely.

Start being discerning about who you buy from if you must purchase something brand new. Research how a brand’s clothing in manufactured. Download the Good On You app, which provides ethical ratings for thousands of popular fashion brands. 

When making purchases online, email the company and ask that a minimal amount of packaging be used (although most eco-friendly brands will wrap their wares in biodegradable or compostable packaging already), or if you buy items in store, hand over your own bag.

Or better yet, buy secondhand.

Swap out your makeup with zero waste alternatives

I’ve already stated that I have sometimes found going zero waste with beauty products a little tricky. While some products were easy to swap out for completely zero waste items, others I have had to settle for low waste beauty alternatives.  

[Editor’s note: When I talk “beauty products” I’m referring to skincare (cleanser, moisturiser, toner, body lotion, hand cream) and items like deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, and body wash.]

When it comes to makeup, going completely zero waste can be even trickier. We’re often wedded to a particular mascara or foundation after cycling through many different options to find the perfect one, and the thought of replacing these with zero waste options can seem daunting.

So as not to waste products, start replacing your existing makeup as it runs out. If you use several products this will also make the job easier, as replacing all your makeup in one go with zero waste items could seem like too much to tackle.

While it may take some time to find the perfect makeup products for your needs, a good place to start is with a makeup brand that specialises in low/zero waste.

Dirty Hippie Cosmetics’ makeup range includes mascara, eye shadows, eyeliner, primer, loose powder, BB cream, concealer, blush, and cheek and lip tints.

They offer refills when you return their full-sized tin and bottle products, and all product labels are printed in-house using vegetable-based ink and recycled paper.

I’m yet to try their makeup, but I’m a huge fan of Dirty Hippie Cosmetics moisturisers.

Give you cleaning regime an eco-friendly makeover

We’ve already talked about why choosing non-toxic products to clean your home is so important for your health and the health of the planet.  

There are so many nasties in common everyday household cleaners so eliminating them from your home (via the Detox Your Home program) will do you a world of good.

It’s also a huge step towards being able to live zero waste as all of those bottles of glass cleaner, floor cleaner and all-purpose spray add up. Most of which will most certainly never be recycled.

You have two options for zero wasting your cleaning regime. You can source eco-friendly cleaning products from a bulk food store, or you can make your own.

Read part three of our “How to live zero waste” series here.