Here are some zero waste tips to incorporate around your home. Let’s start in the kitchen, the heart of the home.
- Use alternatives to paper and plastic disposables. Put down those paper towels and drop those plastic sandwich baggies! Look for alternatives to those products that can only be used once or twice and then you ship them off to the landfill. Use reusable rags that can be washed in the washing machine (hang dry these guys to save electricity). Instead of plastic lunch containers and baggies, use stainless steel containers. Cling wrap and aluminum foil can be swapped out for beeswax moldable wraps. Take a look around your kitchen and see what can be replaced with a sustainable and reusable option.
- Buy in bulk or at the counter. Bring your reusable bags, jars, and bottles for dry goods, wet items, and liquids. If you know a place that will happily use your containers, don’t forget to bring them with you. If you’re not sure if your store will allow it, ask. It never hurts to ask. Reusable bags are good for small, dry goods like grains, nuts, and potatoes. Jars are good for meats, fish, butters, and cheese. Bottles are good for oils, shoyu, and castile soap.
- If you cannot find it bulk, find a supplier or make it yourself. Bring your jar to the ice cream shop (Ask if local shops will be able to fill your jar). Take a pillow case to the bakery for bread. That way you don’t take home the plastic bag. Bring your own bottles to wineries and breweries. Or if you can’t find certain things in bulk, make it yourself at home like salad dressings, jams, juice, or hummus.
- Shop the farmers market. Most vendors will take your egg cartons back and they’ll let you use your own reusable bags. Your veggies will also most likely be free of plastic and stickers.
- Learn to love tap water. Ditch the plastic bottles of water. If you live on catchment, invest in some heavy duty filtration system. As long as you boil the water, it’ll be safe to cook with. That and get your drinking water in bulk. See if you can get glass jugs, it’ll be heavier, but less waste.
- Use bulk alternatives of natural cleaning supplies. Castile soap can be used as a dish/hand cleaner, baking soda can be used as a scrubber with a compostable cleaning brush. Purchase dishwasher detergent in bulk.
- Turn your trash can into a big compost keeper. Use the tiny composter from the stores as your trash can.
- Reinvent leftovers before they go bad. Use what recipes you have and only keep those that can be achieved with zero waste in mind. If you don’t like to eat the same meal twice, spice it up a bit and put your own twist on leftovers so it doesn’t waste.
- Invest in a pressure cooker. It halves the cooking time on most dishes.
- Some additional tips. Reuse single-side printed paper and receipts for grocery shopping and errand lists. Use your lettuce cleaning water as water for your plants. Open your oven after baking to warm your home in the winter.
Waiemi and I realized that zero waste and minimalism go hand-in-hand. Refusing to bring waste into our home and reducing what items we already have in our home helps to keep more waste from entering the home. Clutter attracts clutter. With minimalist living, you put value back into the things you own and makes it all the more valuable to you. Here are 7 steps you can take to begin your minimalist living.
Write it down…Make a list of all the reasons you want to live more simply. These are your whys and your whys will provide you with leverage when you think it’s too hard to keep going. Here are my whys:
- I want to live more healthy and that starts with less clutter.
- Decluttering my space declutters my mind, body, and spirit.
- Having less things in our room will make it less stuffy and allow more air to flow freely.
Discard duplicates…Walk through your home with a box and fill it with duplicates. Once you fill the box, label it “Duplicates” and put it out of sight for 30 days. If you haven’t had the need to get anything from the box, donate it.
- I found quite a bit of duplicates in our room. However, instead of putting them out of sight, we decided to just sell/donate them. They were of no use to us so maybe they could be useful to someone else.
Declare a clutter-free zone…Designate as area or zone in your home that will remain clutter-free. It can be a countertop, a room, anything. Slowly you can start expanding that area each day.
Travel lightly…Pack for 1/2 the time you’re traveling (ex// going away for 4 days? Pack for two days). You can either reuse some clothes or wash your clothes.
Dress with less…Implicate Project 333. Project 333 is a challenge where you pick 33 items of clothing and you wear only those 33 items for 3 months. We only use 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time anyway, so choose what you can wear and rewear and mix-and-match for 3 months. Jewelry also counts as part of the 33, so choose wisely.
- I started the challenge for myself over the weekend and am currently on Day 4. I counted a pair of socks as one item since, well, I consider them to be one item. Everything else is in my other two drawers (they’re stuffed to the max, so I should go through them and get rid of what I don’t want anyway) and put my 33 items in my top drawer. Waiemi only ever wears his culinary uniform or work uniform every day so he only needs a couple shorts and shirts for the weekend.
Eat similar meals…Try eating the same breakfast and lunch all week with two or three dinner choices. Analyze your menu and everyone’s opinions at the end of the week.
- Here’s where meal prepping came in for us. We would meal prep breakfast and lunch for the whole week. Dinner was pretty much fresh one day and leftovers the next. Try spicing up your leftovers so you’ll feel more compelled to eat it.
Save up $1000…You should always have an emergency fund. All that money you’re now saving from your minimalist lifestyle can be saved up for a rainy day or a vacation or that new (and useful) thing you’ve been wanting to get. Try the 52 Week Money Challenge – Number of the week is the dollar amount you put into your savings (ex// week 10 – put $10 in). Money for emergencies reduces stress.
- We just started ours last week and we’re putting a little twist on our 52-week challenge. For the first 20 weeks or so, we’ll each put in the same amount (ex// week 10 – Waiemi puts in $10, I put in $10). After the 20th week or so, we’ll start splitting the amount in half. So by the end of the 52 weeks, we should have $400 more than what the original challenge entailed. Besides we”re also putting in anything we can spare into our savings for our wedding.
These are just 7 simple things that you can do to start living minimally. You do not have to go big or go home here. You can always start small and slowly work your way into it.