This post has affliate links, read here how these work.
So you want to get started living zero waste and plastic free, right? That’s brilliant.
And the good news is there ARE loads of tiny ways to live a zero waste, plastic free lifestyle.
… the BAD news is: there are loads of tiny ways to embrace a zero waste, plastic free lifestyle!!!
It’s too much at once, our heads spin and we change nothing or try lots and stick to none.
The BIG secret is simple: keep it simple.
As beginners, if we focus on a few easy zero waste, plastic free ideas in our homes, we’ll see the huge personal benefits of an eco friendly lifestyle – saving money, less clutter – and that will inspire us to try more simple tips.
And I’ve got seven super simple zero waste, plastic free lifestyle ideas for you that make a big difference, but are easy for beginners.
I didn’t actually start my zero waste journey, with these ideas BUT I totally wish I had.
I also wish I’d grasped these basic tips of how NOT to live a zero waste, plastic free lifestyle, as I have to confess I did some pretty daft stuff to start with that didn’t truly help the planet.
So first I’ll share my tips on what NOT to do and then seven simple ideas with huge impact.
What Not To Do
When we’re all super excited about saving the planet it is very tempting to …
- Chuck out all our plastics all at once
- Instantly replace them with a load of “zero waste, natural” alternatives on Amazon, most of which will have been made in China
- Rush out and buy huge volumes of “naked”, i.e. packaging free but horribly expensive, food in some trendy zero waste store.
These are NOT good things to do, as to truly go green and be eco friendly, we must:
- Keep using plastic to keep it out of landfill
- Buy less stuff as production pollutes
- Cut shopping miles to reduce pollution from shipping stuff round the world
- Stop stockpiling food we will NEVER eat
So as you’re getting started DO keep these four basic rules in mind – they will truly help.
But now we’re ready for those seven simple changes for a zero waste, plastic free lifestyle.
7 Simple Zero Waste Rules
Save glass jars & bottles for food storage.
Glass jars ARE a zero waste, plastic free lifestyle must have. They don’t leach chemicals into food like plastic. They keep leftovers fresher in the fridge and can even be used in the freezer.
AND are essential for storing loose dried food we will – little by little – buy more of on our journey to zero waste.
But do NOT splurge on fancy mason jars, just save empties from pickles and the like.
And next time you’re shopping choose oil, mayo, ketchup etc in glass rather than plastic.
When they’re empty, add to your jar stash. We slashed our plastic waste, simply, by buying stuff in jars AND saved cash as we no longer buy single use cling film, freezer bags etc.
It’s a super easy lifestyle change that helps both our planet AND our purse.
And my next zero waste, plastic free lifestyle change for beginners is just as simple.
Buy a bar of soap. Locally made is loveliest.
Next time that plastic bottle of hand wash is running out, replace it with a good old fashioned bar of hand soap.
Opt for a natural brand to cut chemicals.
And to slash shopping miles, look for a local soap maker. It’s daft to schlep stuff as simple as soap miles round the world polluting as we go.
Now, one bar of soap might be a tiny change.
But it’s the start of something new. You can ditch another plastic bottle by using a soap bar in the shower. And another by choosing a shampoo bar. And another and another and another with a hair conditioner bar or a body lotion bar or a shaving soap bar.
You could even get one little bar of soap and use it for washing, hair, laundry, pets, floors, windows and more!! That’s a lot less plastic bottles, a lot less waste AND a lot less clutter.
And it all starts with one little bar of soap. Easy. And my third tip is super simple too.
Clean with cloths, not chemicals.
We’ve all bought into the idea, we need chemicals – strong ones – for cleaning.
So we end up with shelf loads of plastic bottles full of toxic nasties covered in safety warnings.
Even though we can clean most stuff with hot water and a cloth and a bit of soap if we must.
You can buy special cleaning cloths – I use them loads – but I also use rags. Tatty old t-shirts, vests and pyjamas past repair are fab!!
We have massively cut our plastic cleaning waste. We’ve gone from 20 odd bottles of cleaning stuff cluttering up the cupboard under the sink to two – from brilliant Bio D – made from recycled plastic and recyclable.
And yes we still have two, but it’s a 90% cut in our plastic cleaning waste. That’s enormous.
And cloths don’t just cut cleaning waste. Any good old fashioned cloth napkins tucked away in a drawer can also slash waste and plastics.
We use them to wrap snacks and carry them when we’re out to cut out cling film, foil, snack bags, paper napkins, wipes and more.
So again, we cut waste AND save money AND clear clutter with a simple lifestyle change.
And we can do the same again with tip four.
4. A Sharp Blade
Invest in a last forever razor.
In our crazy world, we waste so much money chucking single use plastics away.
So, once you’ve got started with jars and bars and cloths – all of which can be done for free – I recommend you make one small investment BECAUSE it will save you money.
And that’s buy a proper safety razor.
You can get a last-forever decent one costing the price of 6 months of chuckable ones.
So you’re soon quids in AND they shave better!!
And you know what?
Every time I use mine, I enjoy that little feel good moment of having made a difference. And that motivates me to change more.
Which brings us onto tip 5 and the subject of pants – knickers to you Americans 😉
Buy big girl pants for periods.
It’s pretty easy for us women, to spend a couple of grand on period products in our lifetime!!
AND they’re an environmental disaster.
Lots of our tampons and pads have plastic in them. But the bigger problem is their carbon footprint : making them, shipping them, disposing of them ALL pollutes our planet.
The good news is there are zero waste and plastic free, cash saving alternatives.
Cloth pads, menstrual cups and period pants can be used again and again.
Cups are the cheapest option and MORE leak proof than tampons but have a learning curve. They take 2 or 3 periods to get used to. Brittany at the Pistachio Project has good tips.
The pants are priceier but easy, comfy and secure. You only need 3 pairs so we STILL save cash, cutting our waste and carbon footprint.
Again, they’re an easy change, that cut waste – and spending – by 80-90%. As does tip 6.
6. The Market
We hear lots about zero waste, bulk buy stores.
We have a fab local bulk buy co-op and even the UK supermarkets are getting in on the act.
BUT bulk buy stores are NOT for beginners!!
It’s too easy to end up with jars of stuff we’ll never cook and guiltily call out for pizza. Not a motivating start to our zero waste journey huh?
The easy answer is an old school market.
I know not everyone has one close, but lots of us do and they sell most fruit and veg loose.
I say most because finding plastic free berries and lettuce is hard BUT don’t beat yourself up about the trickier stuff to start with.
If you get into the market habit and buy loose apples and bananas and oranges and carrots and broccoli and the like, you can cut 80% of your plastic, fresh food waste easily.
Then you can move onto the rest.
All you need to remember is your bags. And that’s my final super easy zero waste, plastic free lifestyle tip for beginners.
But it is NOT go out and buy fancy produce bags even though I use mine loads.
The thing is we ALL have homes full of bags: plastic bags in all sizes, paper bags, cloth bags.
PLUS unwearable old clothes turnable into perfectly good bags by anyone who can thread a needle and could use something to do with their fingers for 15 minutes rather than play with their phone whilst watching Netflix!!
And we need to keep all those bags out of landfill. Especially the plastic ones.
So before you even think about produce bags hunt down all the bags you already have .
Stash a few in your purse or handbag or coat pocket and in your desk at work. And keep the rest somewhere handy.
Then never go shopping without them.
It truly is as simple as that.
So what are you waiting for? These seven tips will slash your plastic waste easily.
And because they ARE easy, they will motivate you to keep going and change even more of your lifestyle and take the next simple steps on your plastic free, zero waste journey.
For more simple rules read my big non-toxic living guide and try these zero waste tips :
And for more ideas follow this brilliant board on Pinterest which is full of ideas from my favourite eco friendly, simple living bloggers.
Original image sources: Cookies in a glass jar, Carrots in a jar, Razor, Tomatoes
Original images: toothbrush
Original Photo: White Condiment with a Glass Jar by Marco Verch and Jars & Jug and Toothbrush by rawpixel.com under Creative Commons 2.0
This is nice post. I started my zero waste journey couple of years ago, slowly process and I’m loving my new products and always looking for new plastic free items.
I’ve only noticed your all on one soap bar contains palm oil which is not sustainable.
Hi Marga – thanks so much for your comment. You’re absolutely right Dr Bronners does contain Palm Oil but the palm oil is grown sustainably, organically and using Fair Trade principles in Ghana. Palm Oil in itself isn’t unsustainable it is the way that it is farmed. Dr Bronners have a good little summary here of how their palm oil is sourced sustainably : https://shop.drbronner.co.uk/article/palm-oil-explained.aspx
These are great tips to start minimizing waste!