Zero-Waste (Without The Matching Jars)

A perfect pantry filled with beautiful jars. DIY cosmetics. A year’s waste in a single jar……We see these photos of ‘zero-waste’ living all the time and while aspirational, these images make a zero waste lifestyle seem unattainable or only for people with big budgets and lots of free time. But I’m going to let you in on something......that’s not the case.

zero waste living tips and tricks

Matching jars, tons of time or even the proximity of a bulk shop are not prerequisites for ‘zero-waste’ living. It is always worth remembering that the essence of ‘zero-waste’ living lies in consuming less in the first place, making use of what you already have and reducing avoidable waste; practices that both the planet and your bank account will thank you for.

With a little thought and planning we can all adopt some sustainable ways, even if we don’t have access to package-free nuts, veggies and cleaning products on a regular basis or don’t feel like developing our DIY skills. Listed here are just a few of the things I try to do.

  1. Use What You Have. Old jars you have hiding in your cupboards can be used to store staples and leftovers or to pack lunches. Old sheets, pillowcases and T-shirts make brilliant cleaning rags or can be turned into reusable produce bags– nothing new required.
  2. Throw out less food. You can make a positive impact simply by reducing your food waste. Buying things from a bulk shop can be a great help with this since you can buy as little as you need – no more finding expired flour bags at the back of the pantry! No matter whether you shop in a supermarket, bulk shop or at farmer’s market, don’t buy more than you can chew and let the contents of your pantry and fridge determine what’s for dinner. Planning your meals before shopping really does help also.
  3. Be Inventive with food. Don’t look down on previous night’s leftovers, wrinkly veggies, stale bread, brown bananas or cauliflower leaves. Overripe bananas are excellent for baking or they can be peeled, frozen and blended into a dreamy ‘nice-cream’. Wilted veggies are equally as tasty as their firm counterparts when roasted, stir-fried or blended into a smoothie. Also did you know that broccoli stalks and cauliflower leaves are not only edible but delicious!
  4. Sustainable fashion. Increasing the ‘fashion mileage’ of your clothes is also an effective, not to mention affordable, way to reduce waste. Ignoring continuously changing trends, falling back in love with the pieces you already own and shopping second-hand are excellent ways to incorporate ‘zero-waste’ ways into your life – no big bucks needed. As Vivienne Westwood once said “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
  5. Introduce good zero-waste habits. Getting into the habit of carrying reusables like a water bottle, coffee cup and shopping bag with you will help tackle plastic pollution, and save you money in the process. Win-win! If you forget your reusables home, don’t beat yourself up but dust yourself off and try to do better next time. (However, let’s keep in mind that it takes a lot of resources to make reusables so they’re a sustainable option only if used regularly). 
  6. All efforts to protect this precious planet are valuable and worth making, no matter how small or simple they might be. ‘Zero-waste’ living can be for everyone –just define your approach to it and start the journey. Whether you decide to take baby steps or giant leaps is up to you. You don’t have to get pretty jars in the perfect row in order to make a positive difference and to embrace the ‘zero-waste’ ways – the most important thing is to start somewhere and keep going. Progress, not perfection.


To quote Mark Twain, continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.




Blog by @anythingbutrubbish

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