5 Ways to Transition to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Transition to a zero-waste lifestyle

In the beginning, many people believe that it may be difficult to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle. I know I felt that way for a long time!

Since becoming more aware of the plastic pollution problem, I knew I needed to reduce the amount of waste our family was making.

Yet, with three young daughters, it feels pretty daunting since it’s not just me that would need to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle. I’m sure a lot of parents feel the same, and a lot of us probably give up before we even begin.

When my first daughter was born about 10 years ago, cloth diapers were becoming widely used again, and many parents were making the switch. I considered it back then but felt overwhelmed since I was working fulltime and my daughter was going to go to daycare. I knew our daycare wouldn’t be able to manage cloth diapering. So I succumbed without much resistance to using disposable diapers.

Over the next 10 years, our family faced many similar dilemmas and decisions, especially since our daughters have many health issues. A lot of their health conditions require medications, supplies, continued dependence on toileting support (i.e. diapers/pull-ups), oxygen tubing, fluids and formulas for feeding tubes, and all the plastic packaging that these items come in.

Talk about feeling guilty!

I know we are contributing more than our fair share of plastic waste, but yet, what choice do I have when my daughter’s life literally depends on her use of these medical interventions and supplies?

Obviously, her health and well-being come first. So I just kept going through the motions without allowing myself to think about all the waste we were creating.

It felt like I had no other option.

Despite my attempt to put it out of my mind, it was gnawing at my conscious day in and day out. I’m not really sure what sparked a change in my thinking, but one day I noticed that we were going through a lot of disposable plastic sandwich baggies, and I realized we COULD make a change in that category.

There was no reason we couldn’t start small and make a change in the areas that we had control over, right? That’s when we made the switch to Stasher storage bags, which I talk about in Eco-Friendly Tips for Your Family

As you may have read in My Zero Waste Fails: Learn to Overcome Eco-Guilt, I have been on a journey for about 9 years to reduce the use of harsh chemicals in our home, but making the switch to reusable storage bags was the first conscious choice I had made to reduce the amount of plastic waste we create.

It felt good and opened my eyes to the fact that every little step in the right direction could make a positive difference! I keep reminding myself of the quote from Anne-Marie Bonneau, the Zero Waste Chef. “Zero waste is a journey, not a destination.”

So hopefully, what I learn on this journey will help you understand that small changes can make a positive impact on our environment and that we all need to start somewhere.

These 5 simple ways to help you transition to a zero-waste lifestyle will help you reduce plastic waste in your home too.


1. Refuse Plastic Bags

This first step is one that you may already do! Bring reusable shopping bags when you go grocery shopping. If you don’t have any, most grocery stores have them for purchase and are pretty affordable. You can even make your own, or you can reuse sturdy paper bags as well.

reusable grocery bag

2. Refuse Plastic Straws

This may be one of the easiest switches to make! Just carry a stainless steel straw, or this silicone straw by Go Sili, in your bag or purse and next time you are at a restaurant, you can say “no thank you” when the server reaches for a plastic straw! For more tips and info, check out the Guide to Eliminating Single-Use Plastic Straws.

3. Refuse Plastic Utensils

Make a zero-waste tool kit on a budget that you can keep in your purse, bag, or car. This compact kit allows you to refuse plastic utensils (and more). Read more HERE on how to create your own! At a minimum, you can start by refusing the plastic straws and utensils by carrying them with you when you are on-the-go.

Zero Waste Tool Kit

4. Refuse Plastic Water Bottles

Bring your own reusable water bottle when you leave the house and this way you won’t ever need to buy a single-use plastic water bottle from the store or restaurant. Glass and stainless steel water bottles are the best for your health, but use what you have at home to get started at zero cost!

reusable water bottles

5. Refuse Plastic Storage Bags

Ditch the plastic sandwich bags and use reusable food storage instead! It’s always best to reuse something you already have on hand rather than buy new (part of the zero-waste movement). However, if you are in need of something new, our family is really liking the Stasher bags. You can learn more about why these are a great option in Eco-friendly Tips for Your Family.

Stasher storage bag

Starting with any one of these steps will launch you in the right direction. Don’t feel you have to do them all at once. Start with the one that feels the easiest to tackle. Once you have that down, then try a second one, and so on.

Maybe, you have other ideas where you’d like to start. That’s great! The most important thing is to just take that first step! The next one will be much easier.

What will your first change be? Maybe you’ve already started to reduce your plastic waste at home! I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Please leave a comment here or connect with us on social media.

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