5 ways to go zero waste without buying more stuff

5 Ways to go Zero Waste without buying MORE STUFF

sarahcompton Zero Waste Leave a Comment

1. Womble

This ones obviously my favourite. I have got TONs of awesome stuff by just keeping my eyes peeled. The world produces so much “stuff” already, you don’t need to go out and buy beautiful Kilner canning jars when you’ve probably got half a dozen regular jars in your recycling bin.

You don’t NEEEED beautiful organic cotton produce bags (I know you want them). Do the environment a favour and see what you have laying around, you often get drawstring bags as part of packaging which are usually thrown away.

Recycled Jars and Bags

The giant jar at the back contained pickled turnips (!!!!) I found it in my neighbours recycling bin, it was slightly sad how excited I was about it.

The three grain jars at the back are old instand coffee jars from my mum.

The two wooden top jars were found covered in dust when clearing out hubbies Dads shed.

The Turmeric jar was one of those tiny jams from a hotel – which I always feel compelled to take home. They’re great for herbs and spices!

The drawstring bags – one came with a old Birchbox, the other was part of the packaging from one of hubbies numerous gadgets.

Womble washing liquid bottles


These bad boys are old Absynthe bottles repurposed and Washing up liquid and Vinigar Rinse (diluted vinegar for cleaning)

2. Use up your existing products

Washing up liquid

When I first started with reducing my waste and making some of my own cleaning products I got a little carried away. I ended up with two bulk containers of washing up liquid, a bottle of Sal Suds and my existing Fairy liquid. Turns out I don’t actually get through that much washing up liquid (since we have a dishwasher!).

I was tidying up the under sink cupboard yesterday and realised I STILL haven’t gotten around to using up the last bit of fairy liquid. Yes, its probably full of much ore gross chemicals than the Sal Suds, but I’ve been using it for most of my life, it’s not going to hurt to finish the bottle off.

3. THEN buy in bulk

Bulk Items

OK so no you’ve finished off all your odds and sods you can buy the next lot in bulk.   Here’s how to get best results

If you’re short of space, choose a few items to buy in bulk, these might be:

  • The items you use most frequently
  • Items with the worst packaging impact when NOT brought in bulk
  • Items you can’t buy packaging free from the bulk store

4. Pick biggest gains first

Two Razors

It’s worth reminding yourself every now and again that every product you buy has to end up somewhere. Even if you use it for 10,20 or 30 years, eventually it will probably break and end in landfill. And that’s just as much true for non plastics as plastics.

I spent quite a bit of time researching zero waste alternatives. One of which was my razor, I really like my razor, I’ve already purchased it so the plastic already exists, if I buy a new one, I would have to throw the old away. Yes, it does have disposable plastic blades, but the amount of plastic in them is so small. Rather than spend £30 on a new zero waste safety razor (the above is hubbies) I decided to direct my efforts elsewhere.

Instead I thought about where I’m generating the most packaging and how I could fix that. I ended up researching the milkman and now have all our milk delivered in  glass bottles which are re-used. I probably save the same amount of plastic in 1 week doing this than I would in 6 months of razor usage.

Don’t get bogged down in the consumerism!

5. Make your own

Home made items

There are a lot of packaging savings to be made by making your own items using raw materials. You have to be careful with the packaging on the materials, but if you’re clever, you can buy in bulk and use a few items for a variety of items.

Some of my favourite Home made items:

  • DIY Cleaning products – I basically clean my intire home with combinations of just few products. With these products I can make all purpose spray, toilet cleaner, dishwasher tablets, laundry detergent, rinse aid etc.
    • Sal Suds
    • Bicarbinate of Soda
    • Vinegar
    • Washing Soda
    • Citric Acid
  • Preserves
    • Marmalade
    • Chutneys
  • Shampoo & Conditioner – Google “No Poo”
  • Freezer Chips! – Blog post to follow soon!


Although the movement is called “Zero Waste” for most of us it’s unrealistic to expect to display your yearly plastic consumption in a single kilner jar. Hopefully this article has given you food for thought on how to get started and how to make the biggest impact with some items you already have and without investing in a whole new zero waste toolkit!


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