Reduce your waste and carbon footprint with a 30-day zero waste challenge. It’s a simple way to start living a more waste-free and eco-friendly life.
The zero-waste movement is gaining popularity. With the climate warming at an alarming rate, species extinction rates higher than the time of the dinosaurs, and our landfills overflowing it’s easy to see why.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generated 254 million tons of trash in 2013. Around 34% of which was recycled or composted. That’s 4.4 pounds of trash per person, per day! This is also an increase of 1.6 pounds per person since 1960.
This number is alarming but it also shows there is so much we can do to help. Even if you can’t go zero-waste there is so much room for improvement.
A great way to get started is with a 30-day zero waste challenge. Pick on thing from this list each day and do it. It will help you see which changes you can easily add to your life without being overwhelming.
Maybe you want to stick to everything after the challenge but even if you only keep half of the habits you can make a big difference.
30-Day Zero Waste Challenge
Instead of having this challenge have a task each day this is a list of 30 different zero waste tasks. Pick one each day until you make it through the list. Sometimes will fit in better on different days so put the tasks in the order that makes the most sense for you.
- Use Reusable Bags. You likely already have some around your house so gather them up and make sure some are in your car. If you carry a purse, backpack, or another bag with you throw one in there as well.
- Switch to Cloth Napkins. Cloth napkins are a really easy way to avoid waste. They also save you money over time. You can find them in many stores or make your own.
- Refuse Straws. There are a few reasons that people may need straws but most of the time we don’t need them. Assuming you don’t really need one, skip it. You can also find many great reusable options that mean guilt-free straw usage.
- Switch Up Your Coffee. If you get coffee out use a reusable mug. Drink coffee at home? Use a zero-waste coffee option like a french press.
- Create a Zero Waste Dish Washing Routine. If you have a bulk store near you then you may be able to get dish soap in bulk. If not there are some other options like making your own or use a bar dish soap. For the dishwasher make your own dish detergent or at least look for dish detergent in a cardboard box that can easily be recycled or composted. Don’t forget to use dishcloths instead of paper towels!
- Use a Reusable Water Bottle. Most of us have several reusable water bottles by now and we should be using them more. Remember to take your bottle with you if you are going out and may need water.
- Switch to Zero Waste Cleaning Products. Making your own cleaning products can often be a zero-waste answer. You can also buy low and zero waste cleaners now.
- Use the Bulk Bins. Bulk bins are a great way to get a lot of your food zero waste. Don’t forget to bring your own containers instead of using plastic or paper bags.
- Ditch Paper Towels. Use real towels or unpaper towels instead of paper towels. You will notice quickly just how often you are reaching for paper towels and what a difference this switch can make.
- Switch Your Food Storage. Ditch plastic wrap, foil, and other disposable products and store food in glass jars, glass storage containers, and other reusable options.
- Start Composting. Composting can help cut down on the amount of waste you are sending to the landfill and also give you rich soil to use in your gardens. You can make your own bin or buy one. Even young kids can get involved.
- Make Personal Care Switches. Try to switch out at least 3 of the personal care items you are using now to zero waste options. Etsy is a great place to look for zero waste personal care items.
- Rethink Clothing. We waste a lot of clothing these days and the issue only seems to be growing. Shopping less, shopping used and reusing or recycling clothes you are done with all helps. Clothing rental is another option but there can be waste involved with the packaging involved in shipping.
- Take-Out With-Out. Getting take out? See if you can bring your own container for the food. If nothing else refuse the plastic ware, napkins, bags, and other non-essential items.
- Use Your Library. Libraries are a great resource we seem to be using less and less. Some libraries even have audiobooks and digital books you can rent.
- Get a Hanky. You may not be willing to use a hanky when you have a cold but day-to-day use can be pretty simple and doesn’t involve much washing.
- Start Using Zero-Waste Gift Wrap. When giving gifts use recyclable paper, cloth gift bags, or other creative zero waste options.
- Visit the Farmers’ Market. You can get a lot of zero-waste food at your local farmers’ market and it’s more sustainable to shop for food raised closer to where you live. Be sure to bring your reusable bags to take your finds home in.
- Ditch Toilet Paper. This may be too much for you but there are reusable toilet paper options. If this is too much look for recycled toilet paper wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
- Start a Zero Waste Laundry Routine. Use a zero waste laundry detergent or make your own. Also, ditch the fabric softener and use vinegar from a glass bottle instead or reusable dryer balls.
- Use Real Dishes. Disposable dishes may seem convenient but they are creating a lot of waste. Use the real thing instead, if you keep up with washing dishes you won’t find it hard at all.
- Make Your Own Bread. Homemade bread is amazing and a great way to avoid waste. If that’s not an option for you, use a bread bag and buy bread at a bakery without plastic.
- Use Up Leftovers. Before you go grocery shopping try and make some meals with what you already have on hand. We waste a lot of food and that means more packaging. You’d be surprised what you can make if you get creative.
- Switch to Paperless Billing. Still getting paper bills? See if you can switch to paperless.
- Start Collecting Glass Jars. Before you put a glass container in your recycling think if you can use it. Glass jars are great zero waste containers for food and other products around your home. It’s nice to have a good collection on hand.
- Put Together a Zero Waste Kit. Think about what waste you create while you are away from home and find zero waste options you can keep with you to avoid that waste.
- Switch to Loose Leaf Tea. Find a place you can buy bulk loose leaf tea and use that in place of tea bags.
- Start Using Reusable Menstrual Products. If you have a period look into reusable menstrual products. There are many options out there now and it’s not as hard as you’d think.
- Start a Garden. Even if it’s just a few containers of herbs, growing some of your own food can help you reduce waste.
- Buy Less. The easiest and best way to reduce your waste is to buy less. Start thinking about things you have bought lately that you could have done without and start thinking more carefully about purchases.
To get started download the free 30-day Zero Waste Challenge checklist. Be sure to put it somewhere you will remember and see often.
Another thing you can do is a trash audit. You can save a day, week, or even month’s worth of trash while living normally and see how much waste you collect. It can be very eye-opening.
Then after the challenge collect trash for the same amount of time and compare. You will also see places where you can improve even more.
More Zero Waste Resources
- How to Pack Waste-Free Lunches
- How to Have a Zero Waste Party
- Easy Zero Waste Swaps
- 40 Easy Ways to Avoid Plastic Waste
- Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Home When You Don’t Live in a Big City
- 5 Disposable Kitchen Things You Should Stop Using