How to go zero waste

Person holding reusable mason jar

Never recycle another glass jar! They’re easy to wash, have an air tight seal, freeze well and don’t leach toxics. (Photo: Laura Mitulla via Unsplash)

You take pride in creating minimal waste and reusing, even if you create more than a mason jar of trash each year. Perhaps you’ve mastered recycling less?

You know the other “Rs” deserve our attention — reduce, reuse, refuse, reclaim, renew, revitalize, refurbish, rethink and redesign, to name a few.

Aspire to zero waste living. These tips will get you closer!

Pledge to go zero waste and give up single-use plastics today!

Fifteen zero waste tips

Tip 1: Tour your local landfill. Tours are often free and will take school groups, too. Your consumption habits will be forever changed.

Tip 2: Use a hankie and blow off facial tissue. Always wash your hands after blowing your nose or make this:

Natural, homemade hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer

Time to make: under five minutes
Shelf life: shouldn’t expire

  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) pure aloe gel
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) grain alcohol (e.g., vodka) or rubbing alcohol
  • 5-8 drops tea tree or thyme essential oil

Mix and store in a squeeze bottle. Optional: add 30 ml of vegetable glycerin to combat the alcohol’s drying effect.

Note: Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers work in a pinch, washing hands with soap and water is even more effective. For COVID-19 health authorities recommend using hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol — but even that won’t work well on visibly dirty hands. Boost this recipe by reducing aloe to 30 ml and choosing rubbing alcohol.

Tip 3: Choose reusable produce bags instead of plastic.

Tip 4: Choose cloth diapers and make your own baby wipes and solution with liquid castile soap.

Tip 5: Have an eco-friendly period. Choose a reusable menstrual cup or pads. (Save thousands of dollars!)

Tip 6: Use reusable wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

Tip 7: Don’t treat “best before” as “expiry” dates.

Tip 8: Waste less food. Shop smarter, sharpen food-storage skills and create an “eat me first bin” for your fridge.

Tip 9: Freeze foods you can’t consume right away. (This includes apple cores and peels for the next batch of apple cider vinegar or leftover oatmeal for next week’s cookies or muffins.)

Tip 10: Experience and build community with clothing swaps, repair cafés, toy swaps and food-sharing clubs!

Tip 11: Shop in thrift and consignment stores. Wash items, alter and treat stains before creating the perfect outfit. This also goes for Halloween costumes (although fun as a swap as well) and sports gear.

Tip 12: Reuse silica gel packs. Add them to toolboxes, camping gear, stored seasonal clothing, damp hockey gloves, jars of apple chips, jars of homemade spice mixes or salt shakers.

Tip 13: Make your own home cleaners and personal care products.

Tip 14: Pack litter-less lunches.

Tip 15: Compost.