Zero Waste Tips For Your Home

by Katy on January 10, 2014 · 63 comments

I make an effort to minimize waste in my home whenever possible. We recycle and compost, mend and repair, buy only used (which almost eliminates packaging waste) and try to find alternate uses for what we already own. We Portlanders only get every-other-week garbage pickup and we share that with our next door neighbors. On average, my family of four puts out a single paper grocery bag of garbage every two weeks. Not to the level of  Zero Waste Home’s Bea Johnson, but not too shabby either.

I like to post my zero waste household solutions on my Instagram account, and thought I would share some recent photos with you.

My sons’ school lunches are always zero waste, with fabric wraps for their sandwiches, reusable containers for their fruit or vegetables and a treat wrapped in a bandana, which can be also used as their napkin. (I assume the cookies get eaten first.)

I have found myself in the routine of mixing up a batch of oatmeal cookies on Sunday, which I then bake up each morning before school. Please do not assume that I do this because I’m a Martha Stewart type. I do this because freshly baked cookies get snarfed down before they can be put aside for lunches. Cookie dough does not! This may sound like a pain in the tuchus, but I really only takes a couple of minutes. (And if I’m working, I just bake them the night before.)

Zero waste school lunch

My son was going through his room the other night and handed me this notebook which he didn’t want anymore since it was half filled with last year’s school work. I went ahead and cut out the used pages, and gave it back to him. He now has a notebook with blank pages, all ready for fresh use.

Zero Waste notebook

Last week I posted about how I darned a big ol’ pile of socks, and although I do own a darning egg, I usually prefer to simply use a humble lightbulb. A lightbulb works perfectly to round out a sock and acts to support the sock while you weave a new section and darn those holes. And when you’re done darning the sock, it goes back into use to brighten your home. No special purchase required!

Sock Darning

I’m not big on beauty products, but what I do buy get the zero waste treatment. And I do not throw any bottle away until I’ve used up every last scraping from the packaging. Shampoos and conditioners get turned upside down and then watered down, toothpaste gets flattened within an inch of its life, and my hand cream gets cut open.

It’s amazing how much is still in the bottle.

Zero waste toiletries

Although I try to not buy produce that comes in net packaging, sometimes it sneaks into my home. (Maybe leftovers from one of my mother’s guest cottages?) I was needing to scrub potatoes the other day when I remembered that I had a twisted and tied up net bag that would perfectly as a potato scrubber.

And it did. Work perfectly.

Zero waste scrubber

I buy my spices in bulk and then store them in ancient baby food jars. (They’re leftover from when my eighteen-year-old son was a wee one!) This works great, but sometimes I do need the sprinkle function that an open mouth jar simply doesn’t provide. That’s when I bust out my thrifted tea strainer, which works perfectly (and elegantly) to dust spices over my cooking. I don’t have to buy anything extra, and frankly, it’s kind of fun!

And before you ask, this is a pan of restuffed potatoes, the spice is paprika and I think the recipe is from Mollie Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forrest cookbook.

Bonus tip: A few years ago I spray painted all the spice jar lids a single color. (Oil rubbed bronze, since I had some leftover paint.) Now my spices look nice and cohesive!

Zero waste spices

Do you work to figure out zero waste solutions for your home? Please share your ideas and tips in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

J. Pario January 10, 2014 at 10:33 am

I found a way to re-use phonebooks for crafting. I put them under whatever I’m gluing, and then just turn the page when the current page gets sticky.

Not as good as zero-waste, but at least I can get one more use out of it.

I also store plastic bags in empty Kleenex boxes, although we bring cloth ones to the grocery store which cuts down on the number of plastic bags coming in the door.

Thanks for all the great tips!


Katy January 10, 2014 at 10:34 am

Great tip, thanks!



Karen January 10, 2014 at 11:13 am

That’s genius. I usually recycle them before they even come into the house. I’m not going to anymore.


Carolyn January 10, 2014 at 10:39 am

Thought I was the only one that cut open the lotion containers!

Years ago, one of my nieces dog sat for us. First I was appalled that she discarded her shampoo and conditioner bottles in the trash (versus recycling) but then was pleased as I used her discards for a week.


Katy January 10, 2014 at 10:49 am

I use so many discards from my mother’s guest cottage tenants!


Lesley January 10, 2014 at 10:37 pm

I haven’t started cutting bottles open. But when I have a discard with a discernible amount left in it, I leave the bottle in the gym locker room for the next person–maybe somebody who wasn’t expecting to shower or who forgot their stuff.


kris January 11, 2014 at 4:30 am

My bathroom is full of cut open tubes, lol. I use that apricot facial scrub stuff & I cut that open. I do have to use a binder clip to close the open end b/c it dries out kinda quickly if I don’t. You can also do that with your toothpaste tube (w/the binder clip) – there is still plenty in it even when you think you’ve flattened it to death, lol.

I use a q-tip for my lipstick once it get’s down too low. Seriously, it lasts about another 6-8 months that way.

I’m curious about the fabric wraps for the sandwiches – how do they stay sealed so the sandwich doesn’t dry out? I guess I could google it, lol. I do use those plastic reusable ones but yeah, plastic 🙁

I bow down to your ONE paper bag every other week! That is amazing. I’ve always been a (lazy) recycler but since I started reading this blog, I’ve really stepped it up and with just recycling everything I can, my trash has really gone down (there are 6 of us in the house) but no where near what you’ve done. You’re inspiring!


Florencia August 23, 2015 at 8:44 pm

As a kid in Argentina, one time we had a surprise birthday party for my mom’s friend. We made sandwiches and a lot more stuff, so we put the sandwiches in a big bowl and covered them with a damp kitchen towel. Worked great and kept them moist since the time we made them until we are them. 🙂


Hannah January 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

This is nuts! I was just searching for some tips on no-waste lunches. I even searched your website, because I knew you had written about sandwich bags and bandannas before. It’s crazy that not two hours after I did the search, you wrote this article. (Were you watching me? ^_^)

I just did an overhaul of our lunch system, because due to my current (first!) pregnancy and my husband’s upcoming black belt test, we are out of both free time and energy. It quickly occurred to me that even though we wash and re-use our sandwich baggies, they’re still wearing out and getting thrown away. I found in my searches that many reusable “green” snack bags look like nothing more than cloth or plastic zippered or velcro-ed pencil pouches, only costing thrice as much. So I’m heading to the Goodwill and the Dollar Store to see if there are any pencil pouches that would work instead and try them out. I’ll let you know how they work!


Katy January 10, 2014 at 10:50 am

My only concern with pencil pouches would be that they’re non-food safe. Just keep that in mind.



Hannah January 10, 2014 at 11:59 am

I would only use them for dry items like crackers or chips. Do you think that would be a problem?


Elizabeth January 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

What about zippered make-up cases? True, you don’t eat that, but makeup could get poked in the eye and it’s on your skin so perhaps they would be food-safe? They come free all the time (I want the free makeup that’s inside) and I donate plenty new ones to Good Will…


Julie January 10, 2014 at 10:59 am

I just couldn’t stomach all the plastic shampoo & conditioner bottles that accumulated in our house…even though we do have roadside recycling pickup it just seemed such an extravagant waste. Looked into bar shampoo and conditioners. Thrilled with the products from Lush. Not cheap at the outset, but they last forever.


Katy January 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

I buy a packaging-free bar soap for all the men who shave at my house. (All of them!) I just put it into a mug, and they use a shaving brush. The $5 bar of soap is expensive as a bar of soap, but is reasonable for shaving.


Laura January 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Hi Julie, is this Lush in Australia? I would be interested to try if it is. I live about a kilometer from their factory and when the wind is blowing in the right direction we can smell it – I tell the kids “the wind is in the Lush today”.


Mama January 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Lush in Australia does bar shampoo. I was recommended their make up yesterday and had a look around their website. A reader tells me the owner is a minimalist and all the packaging is recyclable!


Mama January 10, 2014 at 7:10 pm

I have just started collecting bottle tops (metal and plastic) for my nephews who use them for craft. Great to see them being re-used.


Julie January 11, 2014 at 11:32 am

Hi Laura…I’m in Canada…but I believe it is the same company…they seem to be everywhere now!


Linda Sevanick January 10, 2014 at 11:30 am

Sometimes speed reading gives me a jolt and then a good laugh! I read that you, Katy, wrap the treat for your sons’ lunches in a BANANA which can also be used as a napkin!


Linda from mass January 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm

I thought it was banana at first glance, too!


PoppyEcho January 10, 2014 at 10:46 pm



Heather January 11, 2014 at 9:27 am

I thought it was Banana also (had to reread to get it right).


AnnDenee January 10, 2014 at 11:50 am

My daughter’s kindy (preschool in Australia) has a section of the handbook called Nutrition and Sustainability Practices which discusses how to pack lunches among other thing to minimize waste and trash at the kindy. I’ll share:

“As from 2012 the Kindy has asked that No Non-Dairy Pre-Packaged food be provided in children’s lunch boxes. This means that they can still have yoghurts and cheese sticks – packaged dairy foods, but no other pre-packaged foods like LCM bars, fruit bars etc.
This practice increases the nutritional quality of our children’s lunchboxes while cutting down on the incredibly large amount of plastic packages and wrapping we throw into the rubbish every day.

As parents are looking to purchase lunch boxes and containers we strongly suggest you consider the “nude food” idea. Placing small amounts of food; fruit, cheese, crackers, biscuits, buns, carrot sticks, popcorn, sultanas etc, into small containers (named) rather than plastic wrapping. All children’s lunch boxes are placed in the fridge so they don’t require insulated containers or freezer blocks. ”


“The centre has paper towel facilities in the children’s bathroom for drying hands. We have found that a lot of the paper towels are wasted through the year not from the children’s use but due to the fact that when the children pull the paper towel out for use, several sheets come out at once. As we are trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible, we are going to re-introduce the use of face washers this year. There will be a designated hook for your child’s washer, and as per our hygiene policy washers are not to touch another child’s, hence the need for a smaller size washer NOT a hand towel. If you could sew a loop of ribbon or a curtain ring on them, this makes it easier for the children to hang up at the start of the day. ”

I love living in a culture where sustainability and minimal waste is the norm.


Sarah G. January 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I would love that also! What a great thing for communities to strive for together!
Unfortunately, we live in an area of the States where most people (including our family/friends) think we’re a little crazy because we recycle/compost, , support local farms, try to buy used, etc. Around here it’s just not the norm, although at least recycling is picking up a bit lately. People in general here seem unwilling to inconvenience themselves at all for the betterment of the environment. 🙁


Kristina Knight January 10, 2014 at 11:54 am

Here’s a great way to re-use metal bottle caps! Make Skully game pieces that you can keep, or as a gift to a friend. Our 5th grader loved choosing colors and watching the old crayons melt into wax to fill bottle caps with pennies in them. We used chalk to make the game board on the sidewalk.


Megyn January 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

A few years back I found some hand towels on super clearance at Target. I bought two packages, which my boys use as daily napkins. It keeps us from using a ton of paper towels. Since I still use paper towels (thank you, OCD), I always reuse them for cleaning. We’re still trying to figure out a composting solution that will fit in our small yard AND keep critters out. So far, no luck on that. We also scoped out a store that allows you to refill shampoo, lotion, dish soap, and detergents. We hope to try that out to see if the refillers work and are as relatively cost effective as what we currently use. I also tried to reduce the Christmas waste (thanks to family) by reusing as much of the wrapping paraphernalia as possible. I think our trash output (other that cat litter + dog doo) is about 1 grocery bag full a week. Our biggest trash area is from food…we are still trying to find snacks we can buy in bulk that we actually like.

On a good note, our younger son’s preschool is very adamant about reducing waste and uses reusable hand towels for each classroom along with real dishes and silverware. Now if only the public schools could jump on board!


kris January 11, 2014 at 4:36 am

I stopped composting because of the critter situation – I live next to an overgrown-tree & brush filled lot and they really enjoyed coming into my compost pile, which grossed me out. Of course they are outside but that was just a little too close for comfort.


Sarah G. January 10, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Katy, I think your sons should be commended for being mature enough to not care that their lunch packaging is not “normal.” I remember lunches in high school… packaged in brown bags, plastic baggies, and disposable drink containers, all of which were thrown out. I think I would have let my mom have it if she wrapped something in a bandana, since I wouldn’t dare risk being different.
Kudos to you for raising teenagers who are mature enough to be okay with this!


Katy January 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm

My kids are very used to their zero waste lunch, and it’s probably completely different from their friends, but they have plenty others things to feel embarrassed about.

For example, I *will* rap along with Macklemore, complete with swearing.



Sarah G. January 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm



Jane F January 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Was your son expecting the notebook back/ why did he pass it on to you? Not that it matters, it just struck me as funny 🙂


Trish January 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I do my best with reducing waste – and I cut my lotion bottles in two also. I always wonder if there are people who aren’t willing to go the extra distance to get all the lotion out. I wish manufacturers of things with pump dispensers would stop providing them, and instead offer reusable sturdy pump dispensers that are universal. I wish so much that the general culture in the US valued sustainability and minimal waste, instead of seeing it as some left wing anarchist issue, or an attempt to control the masses. I wish.
A few years ago I watched a show about Brit Chef Jamie Oliver trying to ‘healthify’ school lunches. In the cafeteria scenes I was quite disheartened to see not just how much food waste there was, but how much paper waste. Ugh.


Becky January 12, 2014 at 9:13 am

I work in a high school kitchen. You wouldn’t believe how much silverware (yes, silverware – not plastic even!) gets dumped into the garbage cans. Many kids just dump the whole tray instead of removing the silverware first and throwing it into the soaking bin that’s right next to the garbage cans. Unbelievable. Also, just an FYI for everyone: Students are required (by the state, I think) to have a serving of fruit/vegetable on their trays, whether they are going to eat it or not. Ideally, we want them to eat it. But many only take it because they have to and it’s dumped into the trash. Same happens with the cartons of milk.


Connie January 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Just wanted to tell you that you must have fixed the glitches in your website as I got 10 of your last blogs today in my bloglovin reader. I had just been going to your website often to read your entries since they are an inspiration to my already strong frugal streak. I already buy most everything used but love to hear how and when others do it too. Thanks Katy.


JoDi January 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Just wanted to say I’m so happy to be receiving individual posts via email again. They weren’t coming at all, and then I got about 10 posts in one email yesterday and now this one came today! Yay! The site wouldn’t let me comment either to let you know. I thought it might never be fixed because it went on for weeks!


Katy January 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Two glitches down, 74 to go! 😉



Betsey January 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Instead of paper and cloth napkins, I use black terry cloth towels/washcloths. They never stain and come out of the washer just fine! I do own a set of 8 white napkins that I have had for 30 years. I only use them for company and bleach when necessary.
My mom used to say, “Take care of your things and they will take care of you.” I apply that to cars, appliances, clothes, whatever. I rarely buy anything new because my old stuff is well taken care of.
That is my greatest frugality tip.


Jane January 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I have two kids at a Montessori school and they require zero waste on school lunches. Would you mine sharing the oatmeal cookie recipe? I never thought to make something and only put them in the oven the morning of school. I make cookies here and they are all gone in minutes.
I am envious of your small amount of garbage. We have two dogs and foster kittens and have 2 cats, so it seems like most of our garbage is either dog poop or cat litter. I wish I had a solution to that.


Katy January 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I do use a clumping cat litter, which I buy at Petco, as they have a scoop-yer-own station. The litter isn’t zero waste, but at least there’s no packaging issues.

And the oatmeal cookie recipe is a standard one.



Carla January 11, 2014 at 8:01 am

We just got a kitten in August. At the beginning we were using Purina Tidy Cats litter, but we recently switched to Petco to reduce packaging waste. However, the smell is so much worse that I’m afraid we will have to switch back. Have you (or anyone else) had that problem?


Katy January 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Petco is not the best, but I love not having the packaging.


marie January 12, 2014 at 10:14 am

With Tidy cat, my Zelda tracked litter everywhere. It’s not pretty when you find it on the back of the tan couch. yuck
I’ve started using Safeway brand (Priority). It doesn’t track and I’m not scooping every day.
there is still the packaging, but husband saves those for oil changes and stuff out in the shop.


Aunt Lucy January 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Have you tried feeding an indoor formula cat food? This went a long way towards eliminating litter box odors for us.


Carla January 14, 2014 at 6:53 pm

We are feeding her Purina Kitten Chow, which is what she ate before we got her. I’d like to switch her to better food, but my husband thinks I’m being silly. I decided to compromise and try to make the switch when she no longer is classified as a kitten. Maybe we will try the Petco litter again then. While I want to reduce waste, I also don’t want my house to smell like a toilet.

We haven’t had any trouble with litter getting anywhere besides the litter box. We use a Booda Clean Step litter box (covered with stairs into the “box” part). It works great.

Lisa January 11, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Does your bag of waste every 2 weeks contain your cat waste matter too? I have 2 cats, use the SWheat Scoop litter, but still have at least a bag of waste material a week to go to the garbage!


Katy January 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I scoop the litter box into a cereal or bread bag and immediately take it to the outside garbage. I use clay clumping litter from Petco.


Rachel January 10, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Has anyone tried setting up a pet waste septic receptacle in their yard? I foster dogs and while I love the idea of breaking down all the waste naturally, digging a massive hole, sinking a modified trash can, and filling it with poo, hose water, and enzymes seems like it could go horribly wrong


Katy January 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm

That sounds just awful. DO NOT DO THAT!


marie January 10, 2014 at 7:33 pm

When I lived in portland, I had a neighbor that had a pet waste box. It looked like an outhouse! lol
I myself want to eliminate cat litter in our garbage and I don’t know how. I live on acreage, but can’t imagine having buried cat poo plus litter all over the woods. Ugh.
We don’t use garbage service, just go to the dump. We take 3 garbage cans every six months, but they weight alot with all the cat litter, otherwise it’s all unrecycable plastics.


Rachel January 11, 2014 at 7:57 am

Here’s a link to a commercial doggie septic tank, for anyone curious


Lindsey January 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm

In Alaska there are dog mushers who compost their dog waste and the Cooperative Extension even has a brochure on how to do it. DON’T. I speak from experience—it is very, very smelly. Other animals come and dig into it. If a kid were to dig there, it could induce illness. In order to have it become pathogen free, it takes very, very specific temperatures and most folks don’t have time or patience for that. Even then, Cooperative Extension recommends that you use the resulting compost for flowers/non-edibles only.


Dawn January 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm

I bought almost all of my fabric napkins at thrift stores. Some are so cool–retro prints and patterns. Thrift stores are a great place to find linens of all kinds. If you sew you can find a tablecloth or sheet you can cut it and sew your own napkins.
I am saving and re-using more jars for storage of all kinds. All the bulk stuff and leftovers for the fridge.
These are all great tips! Thanks!


Jackie January 11, 2014 at 1:49 am

My sister-in-law (God bless her frugal heart) taught me years ago that after squeezing the life out of the tube of toothpaste to then cut the tube open to get ALL the toothpaste. It’s amazing to me that A: how much toothpaste IS left in the tube and B: that I needed help to figure that out! LOL!


dusty January 11, 2014 at 5:03 am

I recently moved into a guest house on a property owned by an older couple. I asked them where the recycling bins were, and was told that we don’t recycle, why should we do all the work and someone else make all the money. Old people, they crack me up!! Well, there is no way I’m throwing all this stuff in the garbage so I set up a recycle bin in my apt and once a week I drive to a fire station where they have bins set up. The old couple saw me doing this one day and wanted to know if I was making any money. When I told them no, you should have seen the way they looked at me, like I was crazy. It’s a generational thing I guess.


Elaine in Ark January 15, 2014 at 7:57 am

I don’t know – I’m older and I take my recycling to the next town where the local AARP chapter runs a recycling center. (The town is mostly retirees.) They are extremely well run and super busy all the time, and they donate over $100,000 dollars to local causes every year.

It’s not a generational thing, it’s just a selfish thing.


Heather January 11, 2014 at 9:33 am

I bought reuseable containers – some are glass and some are plastic. Almost all of husband’s lunch items go in those to work. We also reuse Ziploc bags by washing them and hanging them to dry. Husband made use a stand (think for empty baby bottles) to dry them on.
We have paper towels for extreme messes, but usually use cloth napkins and cloth rags (old socks and t-shirts) around the house.


tna January 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

I worked with a 60’s hippie and they always brought their lunch tied up in a bandana like a furoshiki bag, said they’d done it since grade school. I liked the idea and always pack food for day hikes in one, using it as a bag, napkin, and headband as the day goes on. There is a lot of toothpaste in an empty tube! I started using Kirks fragrance free for toothpaste and if I keep my hair short I can shampoo with it too. It’s pretty much toxic free, comes in a paper wrapper, and you can wash about anything with it in a pinch…you, hair, teeth, clothes, floors, and counters.


chicknlil January 12, 2014 at 5:46 am

I try to grow and can as much of our food as possible. I get together with my Mom and Sil to put up vegies during the summer. The folks have a big garden. We all share what comes out of it. My Dad is getting too old to farm as much and as hard as he’d like, so working in the garden makes his feel like he can still do it and provide for us. I raise all of the poultry we eat. Dad feeds the beef and hogs.
I buy my milk from a local farmer. It comes in a glass jar that is washed and sent back for more. It is by far the most delicious milk ever! I make butter with the cream. We wash and reuse our baggies. I don’t buy them but they come into the house anyway. I compost our vegetable scraps. I have a plastic trash can with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. I can snap on the lid and roll it around to turn the compost. The animals don’t seem to want vegies and egg shells. I put my table scraps out for the neighbors’ beagle. He makes a daily round thru town and then goes home. They’ve tried everything to keep him in and nothing works. I enjoy seeing him, it’s part of the fabric of small town life, so I leave him snacks in the alleyway.

We use cloth thrifted napkins. I made dolls for my niece and nephew’s Christmas. The fabric was from an old bed sheet. I had most of the stuffing on hand and the yarn for the hair was secondhand. I dressed the dolls in thrift store outfits, so I wouldn’t have to sew doll clothes. I use the local newspaper to clean the windows and mirrors. We’d don’t buy papertowels. We recycle.
I buy bath soap from the local farmers’ market. It lasts about 6 month per bar! No packaging. I brush my teeth with baking soda. I prefer it to toothpaste, it seems to clean better. I use an old safety razor and buy new blades, they last forever. Dh has one of those multi blade razors, with refills. Just switched to eco-friendly washing detergent and dish soap. I had been making detergent, but things were starting to look a little funky. I’ll try again when it warms up. I don’t like to grate the soap in the house. I use vinegar and baking soda to clean most things. However, we still have some of the store bought stuff we’re using up.
Most of our waste is food packaging from the store. Our only local grocer doesn’t have a bulk section. I try to buy organic when I’m in a larger city, but it’s a chain w/o a bulk option. I would like to transition us to an all local and/or organic diet. Right now I am content to eliminate the gmo’s. We’ll work on all organic later.
I mend, darn, and patch our work clothes. Good clothes are decommissioned to work status, then to rags. Everything I wear is thrifted, except for coveralls, gloves, work coats, and undergarments. Dh’s work provides uniform shirts and I can’t find secondhand jeans to fit him. Work clothes don’t show up thrifted around here unless someone cleans out their Grandpa’s closet. Then the sizes are extreme, too big or too small. I’ve been thinking about making my own ‘do rags. It seems a waste to buy hankerchiefs when I have a bunch of odd fabric on hand. Just have to get around to doing it! That’s what springs to mind. I like reading what others are doing, thanks Katy!


Maggie January 14, 2014 at 9:32 am

We cloth diaper and use cloth wipes for my son, and we’ll use the same ones for baby #2. Almost all of our diapers were bought used, so we’re keeping cloth diapers out of the landfill, as well as disposables! There was a little bit of waste on a few diapers that needed replacement elastic, but two pieces of elastic > hundreds of sposies. Plus it’s saved us about $400 over the course of my son’s life!
I bake all our bread at home, so we don’t have bread bags. On the rare occasion we wind up with a loaf of store bread, we use the bag to scoop doggy poop. The baggies newspapers come in also work well for this, as do carrot bags and produce bags.
When we get junk mail. I pull out the envelopes that come with it and use a watered down tube of white out (that my husband brings home from work- Marines just throw out half full things of white-out when they start to get a little dry!) to blank out the address, bar codes, etc. Free envelopes that stay out of the recycling bin!
My son plays with Tupperware (leftover containers from sour cream, etc) instead of pricey stacking cups from the store.
All of his clothes/shoes/toys came from either the thrift shop, family members, or boxes people put out on the curb. A large portion of our furniture comes from the curb, too. I also pick stuff up and sell it on Craigslist, which both pads our pockets and keeps perfectly usable stuff out of the landfill!


Rose Woods November 14, 2014 at 7:50 am

Of all the environmental issues that plague us today, Zero Waste is probably the most accessible tool for self-empowerment to the common consumer. Every one of us can start to go Zero Waste. Many are almost there by being avid recyclers. We are doing a great job, but we still can do better. Recycling is the starting point, but source reduction and reuse and up-cycling are other newer aspects that have not been explored nor are as famous as recycling is.


rubbishwaste December 22, 2014 at 4:15 am

We should always recycle, to keep this world clean and safe. We need to protect the environment. We need this world for our kids to live in it. We all want to live for a long time and need this world to live in it. So, why not take care of it always recycle and keep it clean, do the right thing it’s what smart people do.


Crista May 15, 2015 at 1:45 am

And I am in awe of you trying to homestead zero-waste. Back when I started trying to do zero waste about 4 years ago I was raising goats and chicks and found it VERY hard to figure out trash-free alternatives to some things


Desiree August 3, 2015 at 6:12 am

Very useful post, you’ve found the best solutions ever! I’m just at the start of my zero waste road, so thanks a lot for sharing this!


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