How can I create a zero waste house?: a plan

How can I create a zero waste house-- a plan - Green Indy Blog (1)

I’m moving into a 1000 square foot, 130-year-old house with nothing but the absolute basics. “How to create a zero waste house” is an ongoing series which will address different parts of the house and the best tips/DIYs/products for going zero waste. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through them, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. 

Yes, it’s true! We’re buying a house!

It’s a lovely 1000 sq. ft. house built in 1890 in a sleepy pocket of Lafayette, Indiana.

The house has been an end game for a while; something sort of surprising for two people who find themselves moving 1-2 times every year. But it just makes sense. Buying a house in a small town is cheaper than renting. It gives us the opportunity to work less and focus more on what we’re passionate about.

It also, very importantly, gives us the opportunity to create a zero waste house and lifestyle in a way that’s just not entirely possible in an apartment. To that end, Green Indy will be focusing on a lot of zero waste home hacks in the upcoming months (along with the usual DIYs, general tips, and more!).

Areas to think about when creating a zero waste home

Composting

Composting in an apartment is a HUGE pain. We’ve gotten by with a giant paint bucket and constant stirring as a method for a while now, but I’m totally ready to graduate to something larger and less time-intensive. I’d love to build a large, open system we could just toss things in, but more realistically we’ll probably invest in a tumbler-style compost bin.

Some questions I’ll be addressing in this series:

  • What can you compost?
  • What will you do with scraps on a daily basis?
  • What options are there for composting and how can you pick the right one?
  • What are you going to do with the compost once you create it?

HOW CAN I CREATE A ZERO WASTE HOUSE-- A PLAN bathroom

Bathroom

I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on the whole zero waste bathroom since, you know, a bathroom is a bathroom. I’ve already got DIY four-ingredient deodorant down as, a shampoo bar I absolutely love, and my makeup routine is slowly but surely going towards zero waste.

Really I think the big difference will be storage – we’ll be able to comfortable own/store more than two towels and five products without it seeming like the bathroom’s exploded with stuff.

Some questions I’ll be addressing in this series:

  • How can I further minimize my bathroom routine and products involved?
  • Could we ever actually give up toilet paper entirely? (Do we want to?!)
  • How can I reduce water consumption and/or use it more effectively?

Laundry

I think laundry is going to be one of the biggest routine-changes I’m going to get to try once we’re on the path to create a zero waste house. For years I’ve lived in apartments with public washers and dryers (or none at all) which restricted my ability to experiment with different sorts of eco-friendly laundry options.

We’ve already switched to reusable wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets, but I’m excited to change up our detergent to a zero waste option as well as fully commit to line-drying for most of the year.

Some questions I’ll be addressing in this series:

  • What sorts of detergents are eco-friendly and zero waste?
  • How can I deal with specific water issues while staying zero waste?
  • What clothesline is best for the outdoor space I have?

ZW-friendly decorating

Luckily, the house we’re buying is pretty well-maintained, visually at least. We won’t necessarily need to paint all the walls or do anything major to the interior if we don’t want to. One big project we’ll be doing right away, though, is ripping up the old, stained carpets in the original part of the house to uncover the beautiful hardwood underneath. I’m already delving into research on how to best remove/dispose of carpet as well as refinish old floors. Eek!

The outside, and some minor work that needs to be done, will be another story entirely. I’m not even sure where to start on that, so I’ll definitely be asking for help on all that at some point!

Some questions I’ll be addressing in this series:

  • What restoration projects will I be doing and how can I source eco-friendly materials?
  • Can I dumpster dive for materials?
  • How can I leverage the items I already own to create a beautiful space?

HOW CAN I CREATE A ZERO WASTE HOUSE-- A PLAN garden

Gardening and self-sufficiency

I had some minor luck with a balcony garden this year, but I’m incredibly excited to set up a “real” garden in a backyard (that actually gets direct sunlight!). I’m dreaming of berry bushes, fresh veggies, and figuring out how to deal with the massive pear tree already in place.

I’m considering these simple raised beds as a way to more clearly define my garden areas (as well as to protect it from any meddling animals) or go a DIY route, depending on the cost difference.

And trying not to think of all the work it’s going to take.

Some questions I’ll be addressing in this series:

  • How can I set up a grey water system in order to use it for my garden?
  • What sort of plants will grow in my climate/soil/level of sunlight?
  • WTF do I do with all of that produce once it grows?

Do you have other questions to add to any of the topics about how to create a zero waste house? Whole other topics you’d like to see addressed? I’d be eternally grateful if you left those questions in the comments, as well as any links to zero waste home inspiration to steel me for this upcoming adventure!

How can I create a zero waste home- A plan - Green Indy Blog

How can I create a zero waste house-- a plan - Green Indy Blog

Comments 4

  1. I have to comment on the rotating compost bin before I even read the rest of the post.
    Don’t do it!!
    We got one when we moved out of the city, to a smaller town and bought a house. We hate it. A far easier, zero waste method, and a more enjoyable one is to just dig a hole in the ground. We are changing over to this in Sept. The rotating bin is annoying to use, smelly and yucky to put things in and very hard to extract the soil out of. It makes composting a real chore. Not to mention it’s plastic (although I’m sure there are recycled ones available).
    We are planning on just making two very basic wood frames with three slated sides each out of preused pallets (many places have these you can take and tree hugger has a good guide to be able to tell which are untreated/safe). Then just piling the refuse on until we stop, and turning it into the next bin. then starting again. We have a very small yard so the piles will be quite small, about 3 feet square each.
    When I was young we just had a hole, so this is a bit of a step up, and I’ve very excited!
    Let us know what you decide!

    1. Post
      Author

      Oh wow, thank you so much for that feedback! I’ve heard many people recommend it but it’s great to have a first-hand account! Will have to take that into consideration!

  2. Congratulations on the house!! Looking forward to reading all your tips for reducing waste for home owners. We garden and DIY a lot of our home products but I know we’re creating way more waste than we should be, and we’re trying to buckle down and create a plan to reduce.

    1. Post
      Author

      Trying to get a jump on ourselves and plan before heading in – it’s kind of overwhelming!

      You guys are doing an amazing job of diy-ing your house, it all looks so beautiful!

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