What Is Zero Waste?

The Zero Waste International Alliance (ZIWA) (AKA The Who’s Who of Zero Waste) defines Zero Waste as, “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, packaging, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products and materials without burning, and without discharges to water, land, or air that threaten environmental or human health.”

Wait, what?

If your brain didn’t retain any of that definition, we got you.

In our own words, the goal of zero waste is to completely eliminate all the negative impacts that waste disposal has on the planet and all life on it.

Sounds great, right? In theory, yes, but for most households (us included), generating absolutely no waste at all is impractical, if not outright impossible.

We think everyone should feel included in the zero waste movement, whether you can fit your trash in a jar or not. In order to achieve this inclusivity, the zero waste movement should be asking, “What is zero waste to the average everyday consumer?”

Living a Waste-Free Lifestyle Means Aiming for the Moon With the Goal of Landing Amongst the Stars

Living a zero waste lifestyle is not just an end goal; it’s a set of guiding principles that help us create responsible behaviors and lifestyle changes with the purpose of advancing everyone toward a more balanced existence with nature.

We know that completely eradicating all trash from your life is an unrealistic expectation.

Let’s instead try to get as close to zero as possible.

To truly understand the spirit of the zero waste movement, there are a few more questions that need to be asked — and answered.

A laptop, a reusable stainless steel tumbler with a silicone straw cap, a small ceramic coffee cup and saucer, and a bamboo cover notebook on a white kidney-shaped coffee table

Why Go Zero Waste?

Counterquestion: Why are you considering a zero waste lifestyle?

Before you make your first zero waste swap or a plan to get rid of everything you own and start over (which we do not recommend doing), stop and think about your ‘why’ for wanting to pursue a more zero waste lifestyle.

Knowing your “Why,” is essential for living a rewarding zero waste existence.

Take a Moment Right Now to Ask Yourself Why You Personally Want to Live Sustainably

  • Are you passionate about preserving a clean planet for future generations to enjoy?
  • Are you concerned about plastic toxins and chemicals in plastics leaching into your food & water and harming your health?
  • Do you feel that going zero waste can save you a lot of money in the long run?

Whatever your zero waste reason may be, understand your purpose and stay connected to the source of your inspiration to live a waste-free life.

Plus, if you’re anything like us, when you start realizing how human behavior and consumption habits are impacting the quality of air, water, soil, and life on the planet, you likely will be asking yourself, “Why would anybody NOT go zero waste?”

  • 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or normal aquatic life
  • 150 million metric tons of plastic circulate the ocean, with 8 million tons added each year
  • The ocean is the planet’s largest carbon sink, and it stabilizes global climates
  • Plastic shopping bags average about 12 minutes of use before being discarded
  • Each plastic bag can take 500-1000 years to decompose in a landfill
  • The Amazon rainforest provides 20% of the planet’s oxygen
  • A single rainforest in Peru contains more species of birds than in the entire United States
  • The world’s forests are home to 80% of the planet’s terrestrial wildlife
  • 15 billion trees are chopped down every year for human consumption
  • Coral reefs support 25% of all marine species despite covering just 1% of the ocean floor
  • 75% of the planet’s coral reefs currently face an existential threat, largely due to marine pollution

The Actions of One Person CAN Make a Difference

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the possibility of adopting a zero waste lifestyle, or with all the waste and pollution humans create, or you’re thinking that one person couldn’t possibly make a difference, pause.

We know it feels overwhelming, that’s part of the reason we created ZeroWasteStore. But as overwhelming as it all may seem, the zero waste movement wouldn't be the powerful force in the consumer market that it is today without individual action.

Each individual, and every sustainable decision, makes an impact in our collective push toward a greener future.

A reusable recycling bag filled with cardboard, two glass bottles, and a Zero Waste Store taped packaging box

Who Can Practice Zero Waste?


Going zero waste has never been so convenient!

Remember, the zero waste lifestyle isn’t about being perfect; it’s about doing better.

Don’t let the words “zero waste” keep you from taking action. The term is not expected to be taken literally. And since everyone can always do better, that means ANYONE can go zero waste.

You can live a more zero waste lifestyle in just two easy steps:

  • Be more aware of how much trash you generate on a regular basis.
  • Swap out your wasteful behaviors with greener, more sustainable habits.

Our goal at ZeroWasteStore.com, is to help you find a sustainable swap for just about any household item you use on a regular basis. As the zero waste community grows and people demand better, we’re always adding new products and partnering with new brands.

But you don’t have to spend money to start your zero waste journey!

  • Declutter your house of useless junk
  • Rehome, recycle, or repurpose those excess items
  • Start a garden and replant fruits and vegetables
  • Use a backyard composting system to turn your organic waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer

One of the most effective ways to quickly reduce personal waste that everyone can start doing right now is to simply say NO.

  • Say NO to single-use products
  • Say NO to plastic-wrapped food
  • Say NO to bargains and freebies that you don’t immediately need
  • Say NO to business cards and pamphlets and instead take a picture

Get into the habit of saying no to unsustainable (unneeded) items and gifts.

Going zero waste is not a race, it’s a journey. Adopt eco-friendlier habits at your own pace.

By staying motivated and always striving for better–not perfect–anybody can start living their most sustainable life right now!

Ready to incorporate more zero waste living into your life?

Take our quiz to find out where to start!

Two round stainless steel lunch boxes filled with salad and Rainier cherries. To the left is part of a baguette on a wax wrap, and on the right is a green utensil sleeve

When & Where Should I Practice Zero Waste?

Everywhere, all the time.

There is never a wrong time to make a sustainable choice!

Living sustainably means that all your decisions throughout the day are made by always keeping the environment in mind.

  • How many reams of paper do you use at the office throughout the work week?
    Can you think of paperless processes for performing your work tasks just as effectively?
  • Do you use a disposable cup for every cup of Joe you pour in the break room?
    Replace all that waste by bringing a reusable coffee mug with you.
  • How many plastic spoons & forks do you go through during the week eating out?
    Carrying a personal set of reusable utensils takes care of that.
  • Is it really necessary to jump in car for every errand you need to run?
    Maybe some of those places are close enough to walk or bike to instead.
  • How many disposable plastic items do you use: sandwich baggies, water bottles, straws, etc?
    Replace each single-use item with an endlessly reusable alternative.
  • How often do you eat out and get a plastic to-go container?
    Carry a reusable to-go container with you and skip the waste.

Rethink the way you consume.

Start paying closer attention to all the waste you generate throughout the week — at home and away from it. In no time at all, you’ll likely become aware of wasteful habits, many of which you never knew were harming the environment!

Awareness is the key to leading a rewarding & successful zero waste lifestyle!

A book titled

How Can I Start Leading a Zero Waste Lifestyle?

Now that you have a better understanding of what zero waste is, the methodology behind the lifestyle, and the spirit of the movement, you’re likely now asking yourself, “What can I do to get started?”

The good news is, there is no wrong way to get started on your zero waste journey. The bad news is, there is no right or wrong way to get started.

Whenever you’re ready to begin your zero waste journey and incorporate more earth-friendly essentials into your life, get started by checking out our community's favorite products!

To keep reading, here are 5 Things We Think Every Zero Waste Newbie Should Know:

  • Know Your “Why?”
  • Know Your Waste 
  • Know What You Have 
  • Know How to Buy 
  • Know It Takes 21 Days

Because of the growing green demand, the zero waste lifestyle is more attainable, zero waste products are more accessible, and zero waste decisions are easier than ever before!

Whether you’re a zero waste rookie, or a seasoned vet, relying on The 10 Green Commandments to guide you along the way will help you live your most sustainable life.

Take the quiz to find out where to start!