Four Tips for Starting a Zero Waste Lifestyle

Most beginner guides for going zero waste are full of simple swaps, but there’s so much more to zero waste living than replacing your household items.

Don’t get me wrong, I love swaps too like The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Swaps and 3 Easy Ways to Cut your Trash by 80%, but I think the tips below are the four most important tips I can give you for going zero waste.

They’re essentially the building block of zero waste, minimalism, and eco-friendly living. If you’re feeling a bit more advanced check out my post the Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide to Going Zero Waste which lays out the different areas you’ll cross through from beginner to advanced!

4 tips for starting a zero waste lifestyle and become a conscious consumer from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #beginnersguide

But, before we get to it... I'd like to inrtoduce you to this post's sponsor!

This post was sponsored by Arbor Teas. All thoughts and opinions are my own for more information please see my disclosure policy.

Y’all. You know I love Arbor Teas Arbor Teas and I’m going to hit all the high points with a bullet blitz! BULLET BLITZ.

  • Only tea brand to offer loose leaf tea in backyard compostable packaging!
  • They package in cellulose making the switch from canisters reduced the carbon footprint of their packages by 60% (AMAZING!)
  • They package all of their teas in a solar powered building
  • All of their shipments are offset carbon neutral
  • They source their teas from organic, biodynamic, and regenerative farms.
  • They have plastic free matcha. I repeat PLASTIC FREE MATCHA.
  • They are just genuinely the nicest people on the face of the planet.
  • And, their teas are just freaking amazing!

buy less:

The average American throws out 4.4lbs of trash a day, and that’s not even the half of it for everything that we throw away on average 70% is lost in the manufacturing. We only see 30% of the trash made!


Buying less is the number one thing you can do to produce less trash. 

Before buying anything make sure you really truly need it. I always ask myself a series of questions.

  • Do you really need it?

  • Is it really necessary?

  • Can something else make do?

  • Do you need to own it?

Zero waste is not just about the trash jar. It's also not solely about the landfill.

Trash is really just a physical representation of misallocated resources. I always say, very rarely do we have waste problems - we have creative thinking problems!

Have you heard of Earth Overshoot Day? It's a day on the calendar that marks when we’ve consumed all of the resources the earth can sustainably produce for the year, and it came at the beginning of August last year.

That’s BAD.

We're using 1.5 earth's worth of resources. It's completely unsustainable. So, the best thing we can do for the planet is to buy less. 

buy well:

However, there are still purchases we need to make. If you don't live completely off grid/are self-sustaining, you'll need to make some purchases.

So when you do purchase something, really think about its full life-cycle. Think about where it came from and where it's going after you're through with it. 

Here are a series of questions I like to ask myself when making a new purchase.

  • Ask a friend.

  • Can you find it second hand?

  • Can you find it local?

  • Who made it?

  • Is it made to last/ can it be repaired?

  • What happens when you’re done with it?

Always check the secondhand market first and if you're going to buy something new make sure you're taking everything into consideration.

And, whatever you do don't settle. 

If I've learned anything in two years of zero waste living, it's that settling for something your not 100% happy with inevitably means you will be unhappy with it. Then you'll look for something else which is a waste of money and time. 

So whatever you buy, just make sure that you love it

find contentment:

We live in a world full of constant advertisements that tell us we’re not enough. They tell us in order to be happy or be loved we have to have this product. That their product will solve all of our problems. That it will make us happy or loved - which of course… we logically know isn’t true.

But, advertisers are really good at manipulating our subconscious so one of the most rebellious and radical things you can do is to simply find contentment with what you already have. One of the best ways to do that is to practice gratitude!

Things don't define you. They don't give you worth. Instead of buying things to make you look better or cooler, try spending time bettering yourself. Take a class, learn a new skill, focus on self-improvement. 

So many studies have been done that people who opt for experiences instead of things are generally happier.

strike a balance: 

And, like you've heard on this blog a hundred times before, it's not about perfection it's about making better choices. 

Personal sustainability is super important check out the post I wrote about it - The Five Rules of Personal Sustainability. It's one of my favorite blog posts I've ever written. 

The thing is, we live in a perfect zero waste society instead we live in a world where things are designed to be thrown away. Check out this post if you’re interested to learn more about the Circular Economy vs. a Linear Economy.

Things aren’t going to go our way 100% of the time and that’s OK. All we can do is the best we can where we are.

What would be some of your tips for someone starting a zero waste life? 

My Top 10 Favorite Zero Waste Swaps

Every Wednesday I publish a little YouTube video. I’ve decided I want to do a short (or long) blog post to accompany the video!

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly

This one is going to be a short run down of my 10 favorite zero waste swaps! If I decided to become super wasteful tomorrow, (which I won’t) but for the sake of this post we’ll pretend like I’m going to…. these are the 10 swaps I would NEVER give up.

Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure policy.

They have all made my life easier in some way!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

1. french press:

It should come as no surprise that I LOVE to make tea in my french press. I find that it works much better than using a tea ball or a reusable tea bag.

If you have a small kitchen, it’s important to have items that can perform multiple tasks. I like the french press because I can use it to make tea, coffee, or nut milk. Yes, your french press can strain your nut milk!

Get my tips for making almond milk and for making iced tea with loose leaf tea.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #frenchpress

2. bidet attachment:

The bidet attachment is one of both Justin and my favorite zero waste swaps. The National Resources Defense Council just released a report that Americans use almost 3 rolls of toilet paper a WEEK!

That’s so crazy to me. Justin and I don’t even go through a roll of toilet paper a week, and that’s thanks to our bidet attachment! We’ve had both a Brondell and a Tushy and both work great.

For more information on bidets check out this post Everything You Need to Know About Bidets.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #bidetattachment

3. thinx:

Thinx are my preferred zero waste menstrual product of choice! I love them because they feel just like wearing a regular pair of undies. When you’re feeling crummy and crampy, it’s nice to feel somewhat normal without wearing a bulky pad.

I am a #ThinxLeader which means if you’re interested in purchasing any Thinx you can get $10 off your order with this link.

Of course, there are several other zero waste options, check out this blog post How to Have a Zero Waste Period for more info.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #period #thinx

4. fountain pen:

Now, this swap came as a total surprise to me. I’m left-handed, and if you’re left-handed, you’ll understand the ink on pinky problem. I thought using a fountain pen would be a TRAGEDY. But, you hold the pen differently when you’re using a fountain pen vs. a ballpoint pen.

I have a Dryden that I’m really happy with and use Parker Ink.

Check out this post, if you’re looking for more zero waste office and school supplies.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #fountainpen

5. cloth napkins:

I’m surprised that cloth napkins are one of my favorite switches seeing how much I hate doing laundry, but I do love my cloth napkins.

These ones are especially dear to my heart because I hand stitched them. When I first started going zero waste I was on a super tight budget so I bought about a yard or two of fabric from the thrift store and stitched the napkins up.

Check out these tips for Going Zero Waste on a Budget.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #clothnapkins

6. bamboo toothbrush:

This was one of the first switches I made and it honestly made shopping for toothbrushes so much easier. I was always overwhelmed by the toothbrush options at the grocery store.

I could never remember the brand or type of toothbrush I used… so thanks to Brush with Bamboo I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Check out this post on DIY Toothpowder.

7. glass straw:

This switch really surprised me, but I really, really love drinking water from a straw. It helps me drink a lot more water. My favorite straw is the glass straw.

Check out this blog post if you’re wondering Which Reusable Straw is Best?

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #reusablestraw

8. glass snapware:

I LOVE my glass snapware. I like that it’s so versatile. You can buy food or even get zero waste takeout the containers. You can cook in them, freeze in them, microwave them, and of course, use them store leftovers.

They work so much better for me than just shoving everything in a mason jar. Check out this post if you’re looking for ways to Store Leftovers Without Plastic .

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #snapware

9. handkerchief:

The best thing about cloth handkerchiefs is that your nose doesn’t chafe like with paper. When you blow your nose with a paper tissue small pieces of paper can get up your nose causing you to sneeze.

Most of my handkerchiefs are vintage from my great-grandmother, ones that I’ve picked up from a garage sale for about .25 cents a piece, or bandanas!

10. bar of soap:

Last but not least, is a bar of soap. It’s such a simple swap to make from plastic body wash to a bar of soap. I think it looks so much nicer in the shower and it’s just really luxurious.

My top 10 Favorite zero waste swaps from #zerowasteswaps #ecofriendly #soap

What’s one of your favorite zero swaps you’ve made?

31 Day Zero Waste Challenge

Last year I created a 31-Day Zero Waste Challenge that was all in video format. You can see the YouTube playlist attached below.

This year, I thought it would be fun, to take that challenge and really flesh it out. I want to make it insanely comprehensive with blog posts, guide books, videos, even live Q&A’s. If going zero waste is a New Year’s Resolution of yours - this is your one stop shop.

As all of the blog posts come out, they will be linked here. Consider this the hub for all challenge related information.

31 Day Zero Waste Challenge from From simple swaps to activism get one challenge every day to help you live a healthier life for both yourself and the planet! #zerowaste #ecofriendly #30daychallenge

Every day over the course of the next month, I will give you one challenge. I’ll tell you the problem, give you the solution, and have an action item for you to implement.

In addition to this challenge I’ve created some sweet bonuses!

So, if you’re just starting out and have 1,000 burning questions you can ask them to me via video chat!

Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

PLUS, I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change.

Checking a blog every day not your style?

I’m also the head content creator over at and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

But, first…. I need your help.

I want 1,000s of people joining me on this challenge. I think it’s the perfect time to help get friends and family involved because… living a zero waste lifestyle checks off everyone’s major new years resolutions.

Yep, you’ll be eating healthier and saving money! Seriously, see how I’ve saved over $12,000.

Be sure to share the challenges with your friends and family! Upload an instagram story of you participating in the challenge or share this page on Facebook.

Be sure to tag me on Instagram so I can see and share too!

Alright, without further ado….

The Challenges: