Next Up, Zero Waste

December 04, 2014 3 min read

Recycling is now the norm in most American homes. This is a powerful statement that the country understands the need to take care of our planet.

What most people don’t know is that there is a next step after recycling, zero waste.

So what is zero waste? Zero waste is on the continuum of recycling, it means not throwing anything into the landfill.

There are five easy ways of achieving zero waste.

In the kitchen.

Zero waste in the kitchen starts in with shopping. Bring your own containers and bags. Bring bags to carry home your purchases as well as bags to put your produce in and glass jars for your bulk purchases.

Choose your groceries as close to nature as possible, as there is no waste in fresh that can’t be composted. Choose items with little or no packaging, such as those available at farmer’s markets and co-ops.

Choose ingredients instead of finished products. You can easily make ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and other condiments.

Pay attention to the waste. The average family throws away $1,350.00 in food waste every year. Before making a new meal, go through your refrigerator and pantry to see how you can make a new dish from the leftovers and soon to expire food. If you have leftovers you can’t eat, consider sharing with your office or your neighbors.

And, gather up all the veggies that are sitting in your veggie drawer and make soup stock. If you freeze it, the stock will make your next batch of soup super easy and you’ll feel good you used the veggies instead of tossed them.

In the laundry and cleaning closet.

Make your own laundry detergent. You can make a year’s worth of laundry detergent for pennies a load and you can make it from environmentally friendly products.

Use white vinegar as laundry softener. It works just as well, contains no chemicals and the container can be recycled.

Use baking soda as an abrasive agent to scrub dishes, sinks, showers, and tubs. Use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide as cleaning products.

At work.

Bring your own cup, eating utensils, reusable straws, and dishes to work. Washing dishes saves space in the landfill.

Pack your lunch in reusable containers. Consider using glass containers or recyclable plastic containers so that when the containers wear out they can be recycled.

Out to eat.

The easiest way to stay no waste when going out to eat is to eat in. Instead of taking your meal home, stay at the restaurant and use the reusable dishes and utensils. The only thing you need to bring is your glass straw so you don’t have to use a plastic straw.

In the mailbox.

Instead of heading to the recycle pile with your junk mail, keep it from even hitting your mail box by going to and unsubscribing for all the junk mail. You can unsubscribe from catalogs by going to and unsubscribing to the catalogs you don’t use.

Before you purchase anything, consider the packaging. If there is a lot of packaging, what other choice can you make that has less packaging.

Zero waste is also good stewardship over your financial resources. The final question to ask before checkout is to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Not purchasing an item is the best way to create zero waste.

What do you think would be your biggest challenge in going zero waste?

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