How to get to the route of zero waste in a consumerist society

As one of her New Year’s Resolutions, Angela wants to  stop bring stuff into the house, but it’s providing  difficult.

She wrote…

“I’ve made several Zero Waste New Year’s Resolutions which I’ve had great success with, but one of them is proving difficult.

I want to stop bring stuff into the house to start with, but everything is telling us to consume.”

Angela already had some great ideas, such as unsubscribing from advertising emails, renting DVDs rather than buying and even moving stuff around your home to get that ‘new’ feeling. But she was hungry for more ideas.

Here’s what you came up with:

No Spend Year

Sometimes you just have to pull your Big Girl Pants on and commit to something!

Sue said “Just stop buying things! Simple as that!
I did a whole year of no shopping last year and it helps so much. Just food and ‘essentials’ whatever you deem as essential, and gifts (which go to someone else’s house! ;))”

If that sounds impossible, Rachel shared a gentler idea. She wrote “One day a week – purposefully buy nothing. Gets easier each week… have 2 days buying nothing….

Buy in bulk

Rachel recommended buying in bulk to reduce food packaging waste.

Mia admitted to falling into the typical Target-trap by going in for one thing and coming out with loads she didn’t need. She explains “It took a while, but the more I read about zero waste and minimalism, the more I would pause and think about my purchases. I started to really question any object in my hand – do I need it? is it made of plastic? will it last? is it worth it? can it wait? Now if I go to a store, it’s with a purpose and I tend to stick to it much more now. “

Buy time instead of things

I tend to do a lot of shopping online and I’ve found it can dramatically reduce spontaneous purchases. I’ll put something in my online trolley and let it sit there for a few days or even a couple of weeks. In that time I can really determine whether I want or need something.

 Throwing parties

Shauna shared an excellent tips for preventing waste when others come into your home. She shared “whenever we have parties, we write in the event description “this is a zero waste household, so all alcohol & food will be provided. Feel free to bring your own that isn’t zero waste of course, but please don’t bring anything for us that isn’t in a reusable container ! We don’t have a trash can

Check your mood

Hannah shared “Don’t leave the house or go out grocery shopping when hungry or in a bad mood”. She admitted that if she shopped when in a mood she headed straight for the chips and ice cream!

Step away from the purse

Katherine advised “Don’t take your purse out unless you’ve got something specific you need to get. Cait, who often popped into the shop when out walking her dog wrote “I stopped taking my purse when I realised how frequently I was thinking, ” Oh, I could just pick up ……” I’ve found that, by the time I’ve walked home, I don’t think I need whatever enough to walk back to the shop with money.”

Maja agrees; she write “I try to force myself to not shop just because I’m bored or don’t have anything better to do.

Think about it

Jordan who admits she’s emotionally driven wrote “I struggled with impulse shopping like many of us here. This may sound silly but what helped me was to take the item, say mentally “I’m going to think about it” and put it into my cart. Once I was ready to check out I sorted through the items and found most I grabbed I didn’t want anymore and put them back. I like this method because you get the same sensation of impulse shopping but without the actuality of buying something. I also think the sorting/editing process at the end of your trip teaches you how to start doing that more in your life too; sorting/editing out what really doesn’t matter. If you really want something at the end of your trip, wait at least a day or so and really think about it. If you really want it, you can wait and make the trip back to the store. Often most items aren’t worth the extra time. “

One in, one out

I’ve heard of people who, when they bring something new into the house, either have to recycle, give away or sell another item so that ‘stuff’ never accumulates. Andrea, is onto a similar thing with …

Keep yourself accountable

Andrea is very strict with herself – and it works! She writes “Hold yourself accountable! I have an in-and-out chart where I list the item, who it belongs to, and the reason for acquiring it. If I have to document it, I’m way less hesitant to bring it in!


Stop wasting money

Sharon wrote “I hate spending money on things and would rather travel so that’s a extra motivation. And after tracking my spending I really don’t like spending money and tend to save it.

Lyn wrote “When I was on a tight budget I did a spreadsheet of our spending to drill down to where we could save. I tracked every single receipt. It soon became clear where we were over spending. One was paper reading matter. I like to scale up to an annual figure – we were spending £500pa on newspapers plus approx £400 on magazines. Ouch! They were all stopped immediately. Less to recycle, tidier house, don’t need endless baskets to dump them in and more time for other things.

Annie suggested “Even if you have money, make a budget and put your extra cash into savings. Once you don’t have extra cash floating around you’ll realise how little you need.

Pay for all your bills by direct debit and only take a set amount of cash for your grocery essentials. Make a meal plan and price list of food so you know exactly what you need to buy and how much money to take. ” Meg wrote “I absolutely agree. In essence, run the home the way (great)granny did. And by keeping unnecessary stuff out of the house, the few things that you do allow in can be treasured like the real treats they are…

Kelly explains how you get a fantastic feel-good factor. “when you refuse to buy something non-essential you get to enjoy a double-good feeling of sorts – “I didn’t spend money and I didn’t bring anything into the house,” and THAT begins to become addicting.

Find your WHY

Hazel wrote “Watch videos of the ocean gyres; giant masses of sea litter and animals and people being negatively affected by trash – nothing has helped me reduce waste like reading about dolphins and whales dying because of trash. As of 1st Feb I’m going trash free.


A word of caution

After embarking on her ‘No Spend’ year, Sue learned something valuable. She shared

“Be wary of ‘shopping’ on Freegle/Freecycle though, and of free things in general.

I realised I could still easily accumulate without buying anything…”

In a world where everything is luring us to consume, what do you do to avoid bringing things into the house?

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Rachelle Strauss

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