How to begin

Interested in moving toward a zero waste lifestyle? Here are my tried-and-true tips for getting started:

Get inspired

Watch environmental movies, documentaries and videos to learn about the trash problem. If there are other people in your household, make it a group event. This will help get everyone on board and make changes easier to adopt. Films I recommend: “A Plastic Ocean,” “Trashed,” and “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story”.

Know your trash

This might sound a bit weird, but if you want to reduce your trash, you have to know what’s in it first. Before you throw your trash out for the week, take a look at what you’re throwing away. If you want to make a big impact quickly, find ways to eliminate the biggest category of trash. For my family, the biggest culprit was plastic wrappers and bags around food (especially produce and cheese). I was able to immediately reduce 80% our trash that first week by buying package-free groceries.

Set a goal

Once you’ve decided to reduce your trash, set a measurable goal. For example, if you put one trash bag out to the curb each week, see if you can reduce it to one trash bag every two weeks. Or aim to remove one category of trash like plastic bags. Once you’ve set a goal, make a note of your current trash output (i.e. size of weekly garbage or number of plastic bags used per week) so you can track your progress. Acknowledging your successes will keep you motivated to continue. Since starting my zero waste challenge, I’ve posted a photo every week of my trash on social media. Knowing I’ll be posting that photo at the end of the week keeps me motivated to avoid trash all week long.

Share your goal

Let people in your life know why you’re trying to reduce your waste, whether that be in real-world conversations or on social media. This facilitates future interactions and sets the stage for the new habits they’ll be witnessing (like when you whip out your glass storage container at the end of a meal out). Sharing your journey with others will make it easier for them to support your choices. Starting your own #zerowastechallenge also holds you accountable to meet your goal.

Find support

Look for groups in your community and join online groups for tips, inspiration and encouragement. Embarking on a trash-free lifestyle in our disposable society can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, so putting a support system in place increases your chances of success. I’m a big fan of the Facebook group Journey to Zero-Waste.


Want to make a big difference? Try a tiny trash can!

Find out why it works