Zero Waste – What it is and how to do it…

Zero Waste

Zero Waste – What it is and how to do it…

Zero waste is a hot topic at the moment but do you know what it means and how to do it? Here are the basics….


I first came across Zero Waste on a journey from looking into minimalism. At the time, my kitchen cupboards were full to the brim. Just looking at one of my storage containers sent ten others flying out of the cupboard. It was like a game of Jenga, but I always lost! Along with this, the arrival of my baby meant we owned more things but had the same sized house, so everywhere just felt a lot smaller.

I started researching into cutting down on how much stuff I owned and how to declutter my house. I watched several YouTube videos of people explaining how to minimise their homes. During many of those videos,  the words ‘zero waste’ kept popping up and I realised these two things are quite closely linked.


What is zero waste?


Zero waste is living in a way that means you do not produce any rubbish. You use products that do not have any packaging and compost food items as well as buying second hand.

Sound difficult and boring? Well, you just need to Google ‘zero waste facts’ and you will be bombarded with facts about the amount of waste we use:


  • Humans now buy a million plastic bottles a minute. Most of this plastic ends up in the ocean.


  • By 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.


  • The amount of waste produced in the UK in one hour would fill the Albert Hall.


  • The amount of trash generated by the UK could fill Britain’s largest lake, Lake Windermere, in just 8 months.


  • Each person in England and Wales produces an average of 300 kg of household waste each year.


You get the idea….It might sound boring (it’s actually quite fun) but it is something we need to address if we are going to protect our planet.



How do you live a zero waste life?


The main principles of living a zero waste lifestyle are that rather than throwing things in the rubbish, you try to do 5 things beforehand:


The 5 R's of zero waste



This means that you are refusing to accept anything that can cause waste.


Saying ‘no thanks’ to that plastic bag; not purchasing items that come in packaging (I’ll help with that one in my next pose); saying ‘no’ to the plastic straw etc. Basically, refusing to have, or use anything that will go straight to landfill.



This is where I came in to the zero waste journey – think minimalism. Try to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ that you buy.


Do you really need another pair of trainers when the pair you already own are fine? It is about not buying lots of similar, or the same, items that don’t get used or just get thrown away. I am a total sucker for mugs and during my clear out, I owned over 20 mugs and my partner had around 10! Will we ever have 30 people round our house having a cup of tea or coffee? No, probably not!

If you decide to have a clear out like I did, then make sure you take everything you don’t need to the charity shop so it can be loved by someone who does need it!



There is a big war on at the moment about ‘single use plastic’ and this is where that concept comes to play. Try to stop using items that you only use once.


This means items like take away coffee cups – replace with a reusable one you have bought (they look much nicer anyway); swap your cling film out for food wraps made from fabric; if you are a parent, try using reusable nappies instead of disposable ones – I love using reusable nappies on my little one! Anything that you use once and then throw away should be avoided.



So if you have refused those plastic bags; reduced the amount of things to buy and therefore things to throw away; and you have only purchased items you can reuse again, there should not be much left to throw out! The items that are left should now go for recycling.


Many items can now be recycled by your local council at your curb side. For me, my council takes paper, recyclable plastic (check the packaging as a lot of plastic food wrapping can’t) and tin cans. We have to take our glass items to a bottle bank and our food can be collected in a brown bin along with garden waste for a fee.



That leads me nicely on to the final stage of dealing with your waste – let it rot! This means not throwing it in the landfill but putting it in your council run compost bin (brown bin mentioned above), getting yourself your own compost bin to keep or a wormery.



Getting Started


I’m sure that you have actually already started on your journey to ‘zero waste’ without even knowing it! Do you take a resuable bag in to the shop? Do you save buying something you don’t truly need to save a little money (and saving the environment at the same time)? Do you recycle items that come in to your house? Well there you have it! You’ve made a start.

Now you have started, it is just about being more conscious about the items that you purchase and thinking about what will happen to it in the end. If the end destination is the landfill, then swap it out for something that won’t have such a permanent end.



Where next?


Blog – In my next post, I’m going to be sharing with you some zero waste products you can use in your bathroom and kitchen as well as sharing with you some zero waste shops I have found and visited.


Book – Bea Johnson ‘Zero Waste Home’ teaches you how to turn your house into a zero waste one.


Youtube – Kate Arnell of EcoBoost shares tips and tricks of going zero waste.


Instagram – Zero Waste Collective displays beautiful pictures of zero waste living.