Zero Waste 101

01

REFUSE

02

SIMPLIFY

03

REUSE

04

RECYCLE

05

COMPOST

...and REPAIR!

Refuse

We don't need to say yes to everything that comes our way. Here are some areas we can say "no, thanks":

  • Refuse flyers / newspapers / junk mail

  • Remove yourself from mailing lists and mailed subscriptions (like magazines)

  • Decline freebies and goody bags

  • Pass on single-use items

  • Request no gifts in advance of typical gift-giving events (e.g. birthdays)

Simplify

Overwhelmed by stuff? Most of us have items that we don't want, need, or use any longer, and someone else could use these items. To simplify, we can:

  • Declutter

  • Donate, sell or swap unwanted items

  • Share / borrow / rent

  • Shop less

  • Make your own cleaning supplies and toiletries

  • Choose quality over quantity

  • Prioritize secondhand

  • Meal plan to avoid food waste

  • Manage your pantry with a Pantry Audit

Reuse

To curb our convenient consumption, we can choose to reuse. Here is a great list of reusables:

  • Travel water bottle

  • Travel coffee cup

  • Straw

  • Shopping bags

  • Bulk food bags

  • Produce bags

  • Cloth napkins

  • Cutlery

  • Food containers

  • Handkerchiefs

  • Towels / rags for cleaning up

  • A safety razor

Make your own zero waste kit here!

Recycle

Get to know your recycling system, if you have one. Most municipalities will have some form of recycling system, and if yours does, get to know it! Here are some thoughts to get you going:

  • Check online or call your local municipality to learn the sorting system

  • Avoid contamination by sorting properly

  • Just because it can be recycled, doesn't mean it gets recycled. Here are some materials that tend to be higher in demand for recycling:

    • Glass

    • Steel

    • Paper

    • Aluminium

  • Reduce the amount of recyclable items you create, if possible

Compost

Food waste often ends up in the landfill. Instead of throwing our food in the trash, there are many options to compost! Find the best solution that works for you and where you live. Here are some ideas:

  • Use your municipal compost, if available

  • Compost in your backyard

  • If you're living in an apartment, there are plenty of alternatives, including worm bins

  • Find out if any nearby farms or farmer's markets will accept your compost

  • Join a community garden where you can contribute your food waste to their compost bins

Repair

As soon as something is broken, we automatically want to replace it instead of repair it. Here are some steps that we can take to reduce how much stuff we send to the curb:

  • Focus on cleaning, maintaining and repairing what we own

  • Purchase high quality items that can be repaired

  • Get to know your local repair shops

  • Find tool libraries and repair cafes in your community

  • Learn some new skills to repair your items at home

  • Avoid the first inclination to toss something broken and find out if it can be fixed

What's next? If you're ready to jump start your waste reduction, check out The Zero Waste Collective's How-To Guide.

About the Founder

Hi! I'm Tara McKenna, Founder of The Zero Waste Collective. Based in Canada, I have created this community as a hub for all things zero waste! Take a look around, and join this global conversation. You can also follow my zero waste journey on Instagram at @mindfully.tara. Thanks for stopping by!

 

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