Beginner’s Guide To Going Zero Waste

Zero Waste can seem extremely daunting to those starting out. I know when I started looking at it, I was overwhelmed. I felt like there was just SO much to change, that I didn’t know where to start. But I’m here to help you with my 5 zero waste tips to get started on your journey to living a bit greener. Just remember, Zero Waste doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to revamp every single aspect of your life. Just do as much as you can for what’s do-able and accessible to you. Here are my 5 zero waste tips:

Look In Your Bin

Something I did, and see recommended a lot is to look through your bin. Look at what you’re throwing away. Then consider what is called the Five R’s – In order: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot (compost).

If there are things you’re often throwing way then try to reduce how much you purchase so that nothing gets wasted. Can you create a meal with or compost (Rot) those limp courgettes that got forgotten about in the fridge? Reuse or recycle glass jars (Tip – glass jars are awesome for bulk shopping).

Refuse to buy things packaged in single use plastic, or at the very least try to reduce it? Try and buy things unpackaged and in bulk where possible. Health food stores are usually great for this, as are farmers markets. Refuse unnecessary freebies and things like plastic cutlery and straws. Instead, bring your own in the form of reusable bamboo sporks and stainless steel straws.

I couldn’t possibly sit here and list all of the things you could do. Just take note and jot down your bin contents and sit down one evening to figure out how to make changes.

Invest In Reusable Bags

Simple Zero Waste Tips + Swaps For Everyday Items To Help You Become Zero Waste + Environmentally Friendly

Plastic carrier bags create so much waste and are damaging to the environment. Since the introduction of the ‘5p tax’, it’s reported that usage of plastic carrier bags has dropped by a staggering 85%. It’s not necessary to use them when we have sustainable, reusable options for shopping bags. You can even get reusable fruit/veg bags, too!

Another thing to consider changing are the sandwich/snack bags you use. Before making changes, we would go through a roll of 100 plastic snack bags in a month. The bags would be used for sandwiches, sealing open packets and packing picnics. It shames me now to think how wasteful I was being. There are so many great reusable options for varying budgets. Check out my post on reusable food bags.


Try A Cotton Dishcloth

Reusable Cotton Dishcloth

Conventional dishcloths and sponges just aren’t made to last.There are some cloths out there like microfibre that can be washed and reused but are bad for our waterways. Recently, Jo from Boobalou told me that when plastic derived products like microfibre and fleece are washed, tiny plastic particles are released into our water system. Unfortunately, the particles are too small to be caught in the washing machine filter.

Consider using a cotton dishcloth which can be washed and will last. I really recommend one by The Organic Company which can be purchased online from Boobalou.


Brush With Bamboo

Bamboo Toothbrush

Toothbrushes have a lifespan of approx 3 months, and cannot be recycled or composted. I don’t think I even need to give numbers for you to understand that there is a LOT of waste created from toothbrushes.

Many bamboo toothbrushes can be composted at the end of their life. Some of the bamboo brushes are completely biodegradable, but some are not, so check what the listing says when making a purchase. These Nordic bamboo toothbrushes* are 100% biodegradable and available in kids and adults.


Ditch The Plastic Straws

Stainless Steel Reusable Straws

Every day in the USA, 500 million straws are used and thrown away every day. The mind boggles! I couldn’t find stats for the UK as a whole, but did find out that every day 3.5 million drinks are sold at McDonalds in the UK. Assuming every single person takes a plastic straw, it’s a staggering amount. Those are some pretty scary numbers.

But you can help change that by using a reusable straw. They’re available in stainless steel, glass and silicone, and come in varying sizes. I take mine out with me everywhere, in a little jute bag. The straws are so small and light that they don’t take up hardly any space in my bag.

You can find these at online stores such as Zerowasteshop, Babi Pur, Boobalou and Life Without Plastic*

(Use code ECOFLUFFYMAMA for 10% off at Babi Pur and EcoMama for 10% off at Boobalou)

What zero waste tips can you recommend for those just starting out? Let me know in the comments!

Make sure to check out my other posts on Zero Waste, such as: DIY Dry Shampoo, Natural Household/Worktop Cleaning Spray, and this post on Reusable Drinks Bottles.

*This post contains affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, but I make a small percentage from the sale which helps pay for my website costs. Thank you for supporting me!

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  1. Heather Link
    3rd October 2016 / 1:44 pm

    Great article! I get so overwhelmed trying to move to zero waste and this really helped.

    • 3rd October 2016 / 2:21 pm

      I think the main issue most people have is the ‘all or nothing’ mentality that some Zero Waste bloggers have. Personally I believe that people should feel encouraged to do what they can πŸ™‚ Thanks for your comment xo

      • 7th October 2016 / 10:13 pm

        I love the mentality of ‘start with one thing’. If you keep moving forward with that mindset then it doesn’t feel so overwhelming and you can still manage to make lots of impactful changes over time without really feeling like it was a huge change.

  2. 3rd October 2016 / 4:18 pm

    Love this post, thank you so much for sharing!

  3. 3rd October 2016 / 4:36 pm

    Wonderful to see a Pie Patch kitchen cloth featured in your blog post! Your message is spot on – start with small changes that feel manageable for your own circumstances & build on it as & when you can. It all adds up to make a big difference.

  4. 3rd October 2016 / 5:28 pm

    These are really do-able!!! Whenever i think of zero waste i immediately think i can’t do it. thank you for sharing I am going to try to implement at least a couple of these in my home!

  5. 3rd October 2016 / 6:09 pm

    As a fellow advocate of sustainability, I appreciate your tips.However, I feel that the metallic straws are innovative but it might turn out to be difficult to clean them.

    • 3rd October 2016 / 7:35 pm

      they come with a cleaning brush so are super easy to clean πŸ™‚

    • Carina
      20th May 2017 / 2:38 pm

      The cleaning brush is super helpful for other things, too. I love my straws!

      The only problem is that they get very cold in a cold drink very fast, and if you have dental issues with cold, it can make your teeth and lips hurt. Now we use the brush on plastic straws, too, for bad dental days.

      • 20th May 2017 / 3:40 pm

        You could try bamboo or silicone straws, too.

  6. 3rd October 2016 / 7:18 pm

    Keep a travel cup and cutlery in your bag. Always.

  7. 4th October 2016 / 2:25 pm

    I LOVE this post omg! Saving it to refer back to πŸ˜€ you inspire me so much! xo

    • 4th October 2016 / 7:18 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words lovely xo

  8. 4th October 2016 / 11:01 pm

    Nice post! Thanks for mentioning Boobalou πŸ™‚

  9. 5th October 2016 / 12:12 pm

    We try really hard to have a minimal waste as possible, can be a bit difficult with a toddler who regularly gets spoiled by grandparents

  10. 6th October 2016 / 10:02 am

    I love this article the term “zero waste” can be very daunting to even think about! But it all starts with a few simple steps and then can snowball as you find more ways to reduce your waste x

  11. 7th October 2016 / 10:10 pm

    These are really useful tips, thank you. The more I look into it, the more I discover there are so many alternatives- but you are right that it can seem really daunting at first! Are you doing PGC too? I wrote my article about zero waste a few days ago as part of that. It’s really interesting! Xx

    • 7th October 2016 / 10:13 pm

      I haven’t heard of it? Tell me more! xx

      • 7th October 2016 / 10:20 pm

        It’s organised by Turning Green Org, throughout October they send over a daily email with new challenges to be completed. It covers a range of topics to help lead a greener lifestyle, and is quite in depth so is really quite life- changing! Officially it is for students, who can win prizes etc… but anyone can take part just for the experience. It is brilliant so far!

  12. 14th October 2016 / 4:14 pm

    This is such a great post & I think your opening paragraph is spot on. Every change makes a difference, so it’s better to make some changes rather than getting overwhelmed & making none. I’m so glad to see that the carrier bag charge has made such a difference to consumption. Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

  13. 15th November 2016 / 12:09 pm

    I always reuse jars and of course reusable bags, it’s handy and also saves money. Those straws I’ve had in my Amazon basket for way too long ever since seeing Oprah using them LOL! I had a bamboo brush for the past year and just had to get rid of it but I love the benefits of the brush x

  14. 15th November 2016 / 1:58 pm

    These are some great zero waste tips – its all about making those little changes

  15. 15th November 2016 / 2:13 pm

    Great post its made think of ways to reduce my waste. I never knew u could get reusable straws and bamboo toothbrushes.

  16. 15th November 2016 / 3:02 pm

    Some brilliant ideas! I don’t know if I could do the toothbrush alternative but the cotton dishcloth is a great idea x

  17. nicol
    15th November 2016 / 8:59 pm

    such simple and easy ways to reduce waste. never knew bamboo toothbrushes existed

  18. 15th November 2016 / 9:46 pm

    My cousin is an adept of the zero waste lifestyle. I have seen her evolution in a few years and I’m always amazed at all the tips and strategies she has to avoid producing waste!

  19. 15th November 2016 / 10:06 pm

    Such great tips; we create so much waste and it’s really not that difficult to stop unnecessary waste.

  20. 15th November 2016 / 10:07 pm

    What some awesome ideas, I am definitely trying to swap over to reusable bags my issue is I just keep forgetting to take them with me.

  21. 16th November 2016 / 9:40 am

    I always use reuseable bags now, and I have been debating about buying some silicone straws so I don’t keep throwing them away every day x

  22. 16th November 2016 / 12:10 pm

    Great tips here, I always carry reusable bags in my handbag x

  23. 16th November 2016 / 1:04 pm

    These are some great swap ideas, but I’d be concerned about cleaning the straws thoroughly. Must check out those bamboo toothbrushes though!

  24. 16th November 2016 / 2:31 pm

    Wow! That is a lot of straws! I try and reduce and reuse when I can. We are very good at recycling our waste in work which I am proud of

  25. 16th November 2016 / 3:17 pm

    These are brilliant tips, I do recycle and use reusable bags, but would still hate to look at what we throw away in our bin.

  26. 16th November 2016 / 3:45 pm

    Composting is really important in our house as I like to make as much as I can to feed my plants the following year.

  27. 16th November 2016 / 3:48 pm

    I have lots of reusable bags that I keep to take on holiday with me to pack my things in πŸ˜€ xxx

  28. 16th November 2016 / 4:15 pm

    Thankfully we don’t use plastic straws and have some metal ones that aren’t throwaway. Good tips about the bin scanning and the cotton tea towels xx

  29. 16th November 2016 / 7:54 pm

    I never knew cotton dishcloths existed- I’d totally use that!

  30. Joanna @mumbalance
    17th November 2016 / 2:33 am

    These are really good points for anyone starting out on zero wast journey, or just going greener. I chose a bad time to start myself, as my baby was only 4 months old and I was still overwhelmed by lack of sleep and looking after tow young kids. And trying to figure out all the zero waste swaps was just too much…
    The first thing I did was the bags, and eventually I came across the straws and sandwich wraps. And of course the wonderful moon cup.
    It’s interesting to hear about microfibre cloths, as I really like them. They are great for cleaning just with water, so i was hoping they would help me replace cleaning products. I guess I’ll have to stick to rags, loofa and home-made cleaning solutions.

  31. 17th November 2016 / 9:19 am

    Some brilliant ideas here, didn’t know you could get reusable straws! I will have to get some

  32. 17th November 2016 / 12:09 pm

    These tips are perfect!
    We use soooo many plastic straws in our house. Love the ones in the photo <3
    Thanks for sharing hun
    Charlotte x

  33. ayeshafarhad
    17th November 2016 / 12:25 pm

    these are some really amazing tips! I have gotten rid of plastic straws and I have always used cotton dish cloths! they’re so much durable too!

  34. 17th November 2016 / 1:42 pm

    Great tips here, its definitely important for us all to reduce our waste x

  35. 17th November 2016 / 7:27 pm

    This was such a great post! I have always used reusable bags as I’m allergic to carrier bags, I’m also loving the reusable straws… I didn’t even know they existed xx

  36. 17th November 2016 / 10:22 pm

    I’ve heard of the reusable straws before and need o look into those as they are a great idea. My kids love using straws so the reusable ones will help reduce our waste.

  37. 18th November 2016 / 7:31 pm

    This is such a good and informative post, I think it’s incredible that the plastic bag reuse have been taking to caution and more and more people are becoming more environment friendly. 85% is just amazing! Wow

    Celia x

  38. 18th November 2016 / 8:23 pm

    Fantastic ideas!! I use cotton dishcloths and reusable bags. I had no idea about bamboo brushes though so will be looking into those!!

  39. 18th November 2016 / 10:29 pm

    Great post! I would like to think we were good with our waste but sometimes things slip through.

  40. 21st November 2016 / 12:16 pm

    I absolutely love the idea of ditching plastic straws – I’ve never even seen metal ones before!! Great tips. x

  41. Sarah Bella
    1st February 2017 / 12:15 pm

    Oh, I like the sound (and look!) of the bamboo toothbrushes. I use reusable bags and cloth dish cloths already but I think I’d like to give this zero waste challenge a try! I’m sure there are a lot of other products I could be using, too! Thanks for the inspiration! xx

  42. 1st February 2017 / 12:15 pm

    I’ve been meaning to get some silicone straws for ages so thanks for the reminder x

  43. 1st February 2017 / 12:37 pm

    I have never seen bamboo toothbrushes before, but they do look intriguing. I’d definitely give one a try!

  44. julie porter
    1st February 2017 / 5:59 pm

    I know that I really need to do some work with how much my family throws away. You are right that it does seem very daunting and I think some people might look at that and just not even try. I already do some of the things on your list here and I’m sure I can find some more to do. I use reusable bags and cotton dishcloths. I grew up in a family that always had a compost pile which was then used for gardening, but I have not done it since I grew up and moved out on my own. I should look into doing that again.

  45. 1st February 2017 / 6:49 pm

    Great Blog post. Thanks for the tips. I never thought about getting a bamboo toothbrush. Do you think they work as well as regular ones?
    Got to say, I try my hardest to take a canvas bag when I go shopping and I have a (albeit plastic) reuseable straw.

    • 3rd February 2017 / 11:45 am

      Yes they do. I haven’t noticed a difference in cleaning. There are quite a few brands available with different head shapes, so if one doesn’t suit, you can always buy a different brand when it needs replacing.

  46. 1st February 2017 / 10:49 pm

    There are some really great points here, there’s really so much you can do to cut down on waste once you sit down and think about it properly x

  47. 3rd February 2017 / 7:03 pm

    I like everything apart from the reusable straws.
    Yo know those bottles that come with a lid and straw? I used to love them till I realised I couldn’t clean the straw inside, stuff started growing in there. My Hubby a doc/engineer was like…Seriously have you ever looked at a water pipe…what grows in there? How do you plan on cleaning he inside of the straws to prevent buildup of that scale and gunge?

    Well done on going Zero waste πŸ™‚

    • 11th February 2017 / 9:15 pm

      the straws come with specially fitted cleaning brushes, designed to clean them thouroughly.

  48. 4th February 2017 / 1:06 pm

    I love to recycle and try my best. I always use reusable bag or re use old carrier bags. don’t by straws at all, I don’t see the point in them, I just drink from the glass

  49. 13th February 2017 / 2:45 pm

    This is such a great subject! I pin this to my live lagom board.I try to live sustainable and yes, sometimes is very difficult but paying attention to small bits we can all help the planet.

  50. 25th February 2017 / 6:34 pm

    Great post, I definitely make a conscious effort in trying to recycle as much as I can! I also love those straws too..

  51. chris
    6th May 2017 / 11:16 am

    I have started carrying my own shopping bag however when I look at the giant hupermakets that are handing out multiple plastic bags and so much plastic in their packaging. I feel I’m hardly making any difference.

    • 6th May 2017 / 6:51 pm

      I know, it sucks. But you ARE making a difference, no matter how small. x