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5 Steps To Building a Zero-Waste Home

5 Steps To Building a Zero-Waste Home

What’s a zero waste, sustainable lifestyle, and how do I do it?

To live a zero waste, sustainable lifestyle means you consistently make every effort to conserve resources and minimize pollution. Bea Johnson, a French-American now living in California, is frequently cited as having begun the zero waste lifestyle movement. 

She started a zero waste lifestyle with her family of four and wrote about her experience with zero waste living on her blog Zero Waste Home. In 2013 Bea published the book Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying your Life by Reducing your Waste, which included her 5Rs for green living, an extended version of reduce, reuse, recycle, which adds refuse and rot. Keeping these 5Rs in mind as you go about your life can be the first step toward a zero waste, sustainable lifestyle.

You might wonder if living a life where there is absolutely no waste or zero waste is achievable? We say, yes! We understand a zero waste existence requires effort; however, we should all be conscientious and try to have zero waste as a goal. We believe that living mindfully will help create a more comfortable world for all living things.

To help you get on the path toward a zero waste home, or help you expand your current zero waste efforts, here are a few things to do to jumpstart your zero waste living. 


1. Be mindful when shopping, especially for groceries

The best way to save on packaging is to grow your own food. One of the easiest ways to avoid bringing home a lot of packaging is to go to the farmer’s market for the items you don’t grow. 

Key shopping tips for zero waste living:

  • Always bring your own reusable bags and, of course, buy organic. You’ll significantly reduce your intake of synthetic chemicals while supporting local farmers and reducing packaging. 
  • Bring your empty egg cartons back to the farmer’s market when you need more eggs.
  • Buy your food in bulk and bring reusable bags or steel containers for dry goods.
  • Bring jars or containers for wet items such as deli items, cheese, yogurt, and butter. 
  • Bring bottles for liquids and sauces. 


2. The kitchen is a great place to focus on a zero waste home

As you focus on what you buy and bring reusable packaging when making your purchases, you’ll create much less waste in the kitchen, but here are a few more ideas.

  • Use reusable rags instead of paper towels.
  • Trade sandwich bags for stainless steel containers.
  • Always use reusable water bottles.
  • Compost kitchen scraps. 

Your ultimate goal should be to do away with trash bags. If you’re composting and not acquiring packaging, getting rid of or significantly reducing trash bags is an achievable zero waste goal. 

3. DIY cleaning products for a toxin-free home

If you haven’t already, it’s time to re-think the products you use to clean your home, as they can cause serious health problems for you and your family. Toxic chemicals such as ammonia, bleach, isopropanol, and hydraulic acid are common ingredients in cleaners you purchase. They can contaminate the ecosystem and drinking water sources.  

The good news is you can create safe, homemade, toxin-free cleaning products. Here are a few ideas.

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  • Mix one part white vinegar, one part tap water, lemon rind, and a rosemary sprig in a glass spray bottle. Infuse for one week. Then use it to clean smudges, water stains, trash cans, and more.  
  • Use baking soda for scrubbing pots, pans, the bath, and more. It’s gentle and effective. 
  • Tip: Lemon juice is good for almost anything, though always test the surface first. The lemon’s acid is antibacterial and antiseptic and acts as a natural bleach. Added bonus, it smells amazing.


4. Reduce excess in the bathroom

Have you ever thought of how much waste is created by the daily use of toilet paper? Spoiler alert, it’s a lot! There’s good news; however, the long term savings will require an upfront investment. 

5. Wardrobe makeover for your sustainable lifestyle

Why not exclusively buy second-hand clothing? Vintage, second-hand, and thrift stores are more popular than ever! Plus, visiting these stores and looking for finds is a fun scavenger hunt—there’s nothing better than finding a gem at a fraction of the price you’d pay online or at a retail store. As an added bonus, you give the item a new life while helping the environment.

By making these small changes, you’re taking the necessary first steps to work toward your goal of a zero waste home. Remember to reduce, re-use, recycle, repurpose, refuse, and rot (a.k.a. compost), and you’re on your way to making our planet a better place to live for all living things. 

Let us know your thoughts on these tips, and we’d love to hear other green living ideas from you. Thank you for doing your part to create a better world.

View Comments (2)
  • The last tip about unconditional warranty is not zero-waste. If you return something worn and used that company will throw it away. The better option is to donate it.

    • Hi Tiffany,

      Great tip! It always helps to do some research in the companies you are purchasing from to see what they do with returns. At Ettitude we donate all eligible returns to homeless shelters and the remainder items to animal shelters.

      The Ettitude Team

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