Have you been wondering how to start a zero waste lifestyle? Many of us are taking steps towards a zero waste home, and by doing so, you are joining the quiet army of others pulling together to do their bit and contribute towards a healthier planet.
Waste means landfills and this presents dangers to our planet’s ecosystems, especially our oceans. Each household in the UK alone generates around 400kg of waste per year in the UK. That’s truly shocking. But what’s more shocking is that we only successfully recycle under half of that. That means the vast majority of our waste goes to the landfill with its associated problems of contamination, pollution and the release of greenhouse gases.
It’s critical that individuals learn how to have a zero waste home and that zero waste lifestyle products become a natural go-to. It can be tricky to do because you have to unlearn ingrained habits but getting started with a zero waste lifestyle is often easier than you think.
How to be more zero waste
Below, we outline some zero waste tips specifically for the home. However, it’s important to embrace a zero waste lifestyle gradually, as this makes it more sustainable as you adapt. Make swaps gradually, rather than chucking everything out (and into landfill!). Small incremental changes soon add up. So, pick the tips below that suit you and gradually add in more as you go.
Also remember that reducing your waste overall is key to what you’re trying to achieve. Think about a minimalist zero waste home, combatting the tide of consumerism. Then make planet-friendly swaps for the things you can’t do without.
How to live a zero waste lifestyle
Read on for our top tips on how to create a zero waste home.
1. Reduce single use
We’ve got used to buying something, using it, and chucking it. That’s a problem because it’s unnecessarily wasteful. It’s particularly harmful when the packaging is made of plastic, such as water bottles.
Wherever possible, buy things that are designed to be used repeatedly. An excellent example is to swap out your disposable plastic razors with a reusable eco-friendly safety razor. Or what about reusable makeup pads? And of course, don’t forget to bring a reusable tote bag when you go shopping.
Much of the food waste that we generate can be composted – it doesn’t need to go to the landfill. That same foodstuff in a landfill will contribute to harmful greenhouse gases. But you can use it in a home compost to nurture your plants. It also means you don’t need to buy plastic-wrapped compost when you’re feeling green-fingered!
3. Choose to refill not discard
A few years ago, it was nearly impossible to combat the amount of packaging coming into your home. Now, it’s about shopping savvy. For products that you use regularly, from pasta to skincare, choose refillable options.
Our refill scheme (only available in the UK for now!) means your conscience can rest easy knowing that no new packaging is needed. Lots of companies specialising in household cleaning products also offer a zero waste home starter kit with refill options.
4. Opt for slow fashion
Most of the fashion on our high streets is produced in lower-income countries where the damage to the environment is horrific. In addition, the clothes are designed to be worn a few times and then discarded as they are often made and sold cheaply using poor quality materials.
The fashion industry is the third most polluting industry. Instead, opt for ethically and environmentally friendly slow fashion. Buy less but buy better quality.
5. Choose your brands carefully
Always choose brands that fit your values and ethics. If zero waste is important to you, choose brands that hold this as one of their defining values too.
For example, at UpCircle, we strongly believe in making our products sustainable and planet-friendly. From using repurposed ingredients in many of our skincare products that would otherwise have been discarded, such as coffee grounds from London cafes in our scrubs, to our mission to remove plastic from our packaging, we support your quest to live a zero waste lifestyle.
6. Avoid plastic and seek alternatives
Plastic is a big problem and should be a central focus of your zero waste home. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, meaning that every piece of plastic ever created is still with us. The only way companies will be forced to stop producing it is if we stop using it.
For example, stop buying plastic cotton buds and choose eco-friendly bamboo ones instead.
Where plastic is unavoidable, you can still make the right call to reduce your plastic use. Again, it’s about choosing the right brand. As we phase out plastic as much as possible here at UpCircle, we are proudly certified Plastic Negative. This means we remove more plastic from the environment, and specifically ocean-bound plastic than we use.
7. Focus on your kitchen and bathroom
If you are aiming for a zero waste home then there are two main areas to focus your attention: your kitchen and your bathroom. These two rooms are the maximum waste generators. Always consider what you really need, choose zero waste makeup, skincare, detergents and cleaning products. Opt for low or no packaging options wherever possible.
In particular, think about your food. Choose natural food rather than processed food. Processed food isn’t as good for your health, and it also generates ridiculous amounts of packaging.
8. Think: do I really need this?
A big step toward a zero waste lifestyle is to always question before purchasing something: do I really need this? Can you upcycle, mend or make-do? Can you swap, borrow, or buy pre-loved? Can you repurpose something in the way we love to here at UpCircle?
9. Recycle what you can
Generating waste is simply part of being human. Creating a completely zero waste home is a tall order, but everything you do will help. However, it’s important that when you have waste, you make the decision to responsibly recycle everything that you can.
Every change you make towards a zero waste lifestyle is valuable. You don’t have to do it all overnight, just make gradual steps in the right direction to change your habits.