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The Zero Waste Home Checklist: What You Need and What You Don’t

by | Dec 2, 2021

The Zero Waste Home Checklist: What You Need and What You Don’t

Starting your zero waste journey can be daunting, especially since the version you see on Instagram seems so perfect. This guide is a concise introduction to making your home more zero waste, so you don’t get bogged down in all the details.

What’s in this zero waste home checklist

Think of this checklist as your zero waste home starter pack. There’s a little bit of everything here, so it’s a great way to get you started as you learn more about sustainability.

Not everything on this list is right for everyone, and the goal certainly isn’t for you to “check off” every item that’s here. Go at your own pace to make small changes here and there, and you’ll be more sustainable in no time!

All of the links on this page are to EarthHero, an online marketplace for vetted sustainable products. Everything is delivered to you in plastic-free packaging with carbon-neutral shipping. Not to mention, it’s a great way to avoid supporting Amazon.

At the time of writing, several items on this list are out of stock due to the global supply chain crisis. Switching to a different vendor likely won’t solve the issue, and we’ll just need to be patient- it is a pandemic, after all.

Bathroom

Your bathroom routine can generate a lot of plastic waste- just think of every product you use. As those products run out, you can use the opportunity to switch to a zero waste alternative to gradually make your bathroom habits more sustainable.

Purchases:

Habits:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth
  • Only shower when you need it (which might not be every day)
  • Use up your old products before buying new ones
  • Collect running water from your bath/shower to water your plants

What not to buy anymore:

  • Products with microplastics (like exfoliating microbeads)
  • Products with unrecyclable plastic packaging
  • Aerosol products
  • Disposable makeup wipes
  • Plastic toothbrushes (also refuse them at the dentist!)

Food prep & storage

Making your own meals is already far more sustainable than eating out, but there are a few key areas that can generate a lot of waste. A few important tools can help you cut back on plastic waste in the kitchen, but remember to only buy what you need!

Purchases:

Habits:

  • Save leftover food (and actually eat it)
  • Learn how to store produce properly so it stays fresh longer
  • Buy food with specific meals in mind
  • Compost your kitchen scraps
  • Bring leftover containers from home when you go out to eat

What not to buy anymore:

  • Plastic wrap
  • Disposable tableware (paper plates, plastic cutlery, etc)
  • Paper napkins
  • Paper or plastic lunch bags

Kitchen Cleaning

Keeping your kitchen clean doesn’t have to be wasteful. It just takes a little bit of planning to avoid disposable cleaning supplies and swap them out for zero waste alternatives. You’ll have sustainable habits formed before you know it!

Purchases:

Habits:

  • Learn how to make your own cleaning solutions with products you have
  • Use up all of your old products before switching to a new one
  • Only run your dishwasher when it’s full and efficiently loaded
  • Don’t burn food so it takes less water to clean dishes
  • Use soapy water to wash multiple dishes when washing by hand

What not to buy anymore:

  • Products with harsh chemicals
  • Disposable disinfectant wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic-wrapped dish detergent pods
  • Extra products like dish brightener

Laundry

It seems like laundry is everyone’s least favorite chore, and it only seems worse when you think about adding extra work to be sustainable. But a lot of the things you can do in the laundry room are simple switches that don’t take effort at all!

Purchases:

Habits:

  • Air dry your laundry when you can
  • Only use the dryer when you need it
  • Only run the washing machine when it’s full
  • Avoid harsh chemicals that can leech out into the water system
  • Only wash your clothes when they need it

What not to buy anymore:

  • plastic-wrapped laundry detergent pods
  • Dryer sheets
  • Plastic tape lint rollers
  • Stain remover in plastic containers
  • Scent boosters like Downy’s Unstoppables

Clothing

You likely don’t need me to tell you that fast fashion is harmful and exploitative. If you have the monetary flexibility to purchase new clothes ethically, that’s definitely a good option. Otherwise, secondhand shops are your friend!

Purchases:

Habits:

  • Don’t buy for trends
  • Repair clothes when they wear out
  • Find specific homes for your unwanted clothes (rather than throwing them away or donating en masse)
  • Repurpose old clothes into rags or crafts

What not to buy anymore:

  • Fast fashion
  • Clothes for a single occasion (Halloween costumes, etc)
  • Don’t buy clothes as gifts- you’ll never know their style for sure!
  • Clothes in multiple sizes online just to return the ones that don’t fit

Final Thoughts

Starting your zero waste journey can be intimidating. Remember to go easy on yourself because you’ll never have everything perfect. Small changes a little at a time really do make a huge difference.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Daybring