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40 free zero waste changes you can make today without buying a single thing

Some zero waste swaps are much much easier to make than others. It seems that a lot of the more public side of zero waste living is telling people what to buy, but it shouldn’t be such a consumerism driven thing at all!

With that in mind - here’s a list of forty things you can do RIGHT NOW, no money spent, to start producing less waste today.

  1. Refuse receipts when out shopping
  2. Choose loose fruit and veg instead of the kind sold wrapped in plastic
  3. Use the air dryer or nothing (shock!) rather than paper towels in public toilets
  4. Refuse to use paper napkins at restaurants
  5. Say no plastic straws in all drinks
  6. Say no to freebies and promo materials
  7. Hang your laundry to dry and skip the energy expenditure of a dryer
  8. Make coffee at home
  9. Make your meals at home and take leftovers for lunch at work or school
  10. Get a library card
  11. Host a clothes swap
  12. Meal plan to avoid food waste
  13. Turn the lights off when you leave a room
  14. Put on an extra layer before turning up the heat in your home
  15. Stop using paper towels/kitchen roll (use a tea towel instead)
  16. DIY your own cleaning liquids with white vinegar and water rather than buying versions
  17. Switch to a smart card for your rail travel and avoid paper tickets altogether
  18. Switch to a green energy provider (make sure they’re actually green, and not just greenwashing)
  19. Use paperless systems and apps where possible - project management, email, accountancy, etc
  20. Bring your own (*insert whatever here*). Bags are simple as so many of us have them knocking around. Forks, probably useful. Reusable straw, if you’ve already got one. Coffee cup, water bottle….bring your own!
  21. Turn your stale bread into croutons or breadcrumbs
  22. Freeze in-season fruits that are going off for smoothies at a later date
  23. Stop buying fast fashion
  24. Make handkerchiefs out of an old shirt or bed sheet and stop using tissues
  25. Buy your pet’s food in tins rather than sachets or plastic bags
  26. Set up all your bills to be paperless
  27. Put yourself on a do-not-contact list to stop receiving junk mail
  28. Wear glasses rather than contacts
  29. Stop making impulse purchases
  30. Ask for no or minimal plastic on online orders (Amazon in particular)
  31. Only run the dishwasher or washing machine when it’s full
  32. Walk or cycle rather than drive
  33. Take public transportation if you can’t walk or cycle
  34. Watch Youtube videos and learn how to repair your own clothes and other goods
  35. Use both sides of the paper before recycling
  36. Upcycle what you can
  37. Eat less meat (or stop eating meat altogether)
  38. Stop consuming dairy
  39. Forage for what grows locally (if you’re 1000% sure it’s safe first!).
  40. DIY your own wrapping for gifts using old scarves, old newspaper, and leftover packaging

So what did I miss? Can you think of other free zero waste swaps or tips that I forgot? Share in the comments!


  • Joanne Abbotts

    Decline coathangers at the dry cleaner’s. Or take them back the next time.

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