6 Easy Ways to Go Zero Waste for Free

Are you thinking about going zero waste? The environment says thanks!

Photo by Ben White from Unsplash

If you’re serious about it, we have good news: you don’t need to spend anything to start.

No, really. You don’t have to buy that new ‘zero waste starter kit’ or that new organic option right away. Yes, it can get pretty exciting to find new products that will replace your unsustainable (and usually non-biodegradable) items.

But with the growing popularity of #ZeroWaste, more corporations capitalize on the movement to earn profits. The sad thing is, many businesses may not necessarily be for the environment. Instead, they’re just after the mighty dollar.

The whole point of zero waste is to make sure you have as little waste as possible. So buying new products kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

You don’t have to follow that pricey-looking minimalist aesthetic you see on many zero waste influencer platforms.

Here’s how you can start a zero waste life without spending a cent:

1. Swap your paper towels

Every house has some pile of clothes too old, too stained, or ragged to be resold or donated. So why not use them as cleaning cloth?

Cut them into smaller rags depending on what function you need them for. In our experience, a typical cotton shirt could be cut into four pieces – the torso part cut in two halves and the sleeves cut as well.

These can be used as reusable rags to wipe down messes and clean different surfaces. If they’re 100% cotton, you can even compost them.

2. Reuse your glass containers

Now that you’re more conscious of what can be reused in your home, you may notice that you accumulate many glass containers of different sizes from grocery food items.

These are great for storage, helping you lessen or entirely forego plastic containers.

Here are a few ways to reuse glass jars:

  • Pantry storage
  • Food storage in the fridge
  • Plant vase (for water-soaked plant varieties)
  • Water bottles
  • For packing lunch (soup or salad)
  • Garage storage
  • Crafts storage

Take note: you don’t have to start throwing away all your Tupperware containers now that you switched to glass jars. Again, it’s called zero waste, my friends!

Trashing plastic that is still usable is counterproductive and unnecessary.

3. Create a capsule wardrobe

All spree shoppers beware: this might trigger you.

You may be well aware of how harmful certain modern practices are to our environment. Commercial flights, using single-use plastic items, using your private car to and from work – all these are touted as the main baddies.

But clothes should also be included in the list. According to Business Insider, fast fashion has churned so many products that it makes up 10% of total carbon emissions.

The textile industry also uses up and pollutes significant bodies of water that could affect the livelihoods of major towns and cities.

All these resources used up, and for what? A whopping 85% of fast fashion ends up in landfills each year!  

Going zero waste means changing your unsustainable routines. And if you realize that you have too many clothes, maybe it’s a sign to start a capsule wardrobe.

What exactly is a capsule wardrobe? It’s an edited wardrobe down to your favorite and most useful pieces. It should fit your lifestyle and body type and can be mixed and matched in many ways.

There are many ways to go about it, from Project 333 (focusing on 33 items to use for three months) or one item of clothing worn ten ways and more.

Whichever your preferred technique, building a minimalist wardrobe takes time and intention.

You only realize what you need and want as you go along. It’s not fast fashion, after all (pun intended).

4. Try out natural alternatives

Too many times, we impulsively buy cheap makeup, cleaning agents, and other home solutions because of the convenience their marketing presents. 

Photo by Alexander Mils from Pexels

But there are ways you could swap these products for more natural options.

For example, instead of using lotion, you could try using coconut oil or olive oil. Applying either of these natural oils on the skin right after a bath can help seal hydration, leaving more supple skin. 

For cleaning products, you could try replacing store-bought supplies with more natural ones made from items in your pantry. Baking soda, lemons, and apple cider vinegar are popular choices if you want a more natural disinfectant recipe on the cheap.

5. Use your legs

Car emissions are one of the biggest contributors to the issue of climate change. In fact, the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions – at 28.2% in 2018.

You might be thinking it’s not really your problem if commercial airlines, trucks, ships, and trains have to operate daily. But private vehicles contribute a whole lot, too.

Studies suggest that your carbon footprint is twice as big if you shop at a physical store compared to ordering online!

What does this tell us? 

If you can, walk, walk, and walk some more.

Go for a walk (if weather permitting, of course, and you won’t freeze to death outside) instead of hopping into your car for every errand.

Sure, some activities entail bringing a car. But if you can, keep your vehicle off the road. Or take one trip instead of multiple ones.

You’d be surprised how much gas money you end up saving!

6. Go Paperless

Statistics suggest that most people still prefer paper bills to electronic ones. One big reason is that they believe it is easier to review, keep track of, and put paper bills on file than electronic messages.

Sticking to paper bills is unfortunate, as going paperless for your bills can save you as much as 6.6 pounds of paper. In addition, paper makes up a quarter of total landfill waste and 50% of business waste.

By paying bills electronically, you’re preventing pounds of envelopes and glossy, non-recyclable paper from being created. It’s an easy, albeit often overlooked, step to creating an eco-friendly routine.

The Takeaway

Whether you’re financially comfortable or still making ends meet, making simple, no-cost, and sustainable choices is always open to everyone.

Gradual changes add up.

What are your very own zero waste tips that don’t cost any money? Share in the comments below.

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