It's a Start: Transition to Zero Waste

Over the years there have been buzz words like "green" or "upcycling" or even "organic"- lately, I've been seeing more and more of the term "Zero Waste." The term zero waste, broadly refers to a lifestyle that celebrates minimalism, rejects the concept of disposable items, challenges consumerism, and encourages people to come up with alternative reusable solutions to everyday life. Read on for my favorite tips to help you transition to a zero waste lifestyle.

Do you have a reusable coffee mug or water bottle you drink from every day? By using it you are keeping countless amounts of waste from our landfills. That's just one small action we can take each day to reduce our impact on the environment.

With a growing family of four, I find it's not always easy (or affordable) to go green, but we make a genuine and honest effort to make the smartest choices where we're able. I forget my reusable grocery bags at least once a month and I feel guilty. Yet, 90% of our wardrobes are handmade or second-hand. I'm no expert. Zero waste takes practice. And we try.  It's my responsibility to model and instill these values understanding how it affects the way our children (my boys) see/consume waste now and in the future.

Naturally, they're in tuned very much with textile consumption and the notion of fast fashion because so much of my personal work is focused in this area. But while planning our grocery shopping list today the topic came up about buying in bulk using mason jars or reusable containers (plastic free preferably) Food packaging makes up a large portion of our weekly waste, and we didn't have to look far for the evidence. Our family produces one bin of trash each week but 4 bins of recycling. It's out of control!
Reusable produce bags from TrashN2Tees

 Going to the grocery store is almost universal, and it's something we do about once a week. It's one of the easiest and biggest ways you can make an impact. Not just how you buy it, but also what you buy.

- Buying Local & Buying Bulk
- Use TrashN2Tees Reusable Produce bags (Buy here or Make Your Own!)
- Avoid small things that end up in trash like twist ties
- Refuse products that are over packaged
- Bring your own bags
- Use an app to write your grocery list in

Creating a zero waste home is much easier than you think. You'll find really great advice and more comprehensive actions on the blog Going Zero Waste
- Reusable Napkins (Pattern available my book The Upcycled T-shirt)
- Compost
- Use real plates/ cutlery
- Say no to take out packaging (but never give up take out)
- Walk/Bike where you can
- Capsule Wardrobes

I'm not entirely convinced zero waste is achievable but not everyone agrees. Béa Johnson, who launched the “Zero Waste” movement with her family 8 years ago, lives without generating any waste (or at least very little) is possible. She uses glass jars in the kitchen, making homemade cosmetic and cleaning products, swapping items, selecting resistant and interchangeable clothing... promising plenty of options that are available. According to Johnson, the most difficult waste to get rid of are papers (mailings) and multiple packaging which invade our daily life. Even knowing that zero waste isn't an end solution I recognize the influence and impact these actions have in reducing our waste by half, an effort if supported by all, that could really make a difference.

Don't feel pressured to fit your efforts into any one one word. You don't have to plastic free/vegan/zero waste/package free/organic eating to be doing the best you can for your family. Just keep practicing healthy habits- and look for creative solutions. Please feel free to share your routines and tips to creating a healthy happy home zero waste or otherwise in the comments below.


  1. I love Andrea from Be Zero and Kate from Loam Magazine because they are always talking about how being absolutely ZERO waste is impossible but your efforts are huge! I love the way they discuss being "zero waste" as more of a personal journey that is unique to your and where you live than some exact check list you have to hit all the bullet points on or you fail. The way they talk about zero waste is a much less daunting, and much more educational about the whys and hows than some of the more popular faces of zero waste.

    But regardless I thank you Janelle cause you set me off on an ecofriendly tirade. I will probably never be able to be zero waste due to my sewing room but I can make huge strides towards less trash and more earth friendly habits.


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