People have asked, and now I’m finally doing it: a zero waste day in the life.

I don’t get it, but I suppose there’s some mystique to the idea of a zero waste life. Unfortunately, I have to break the mystique and let you know it’s really pretty similar to anyone else’s – probably just a little more planning.

My day, actually, may look different because I’ve worked for myself for the last six months. I’m very lucky to have been able to move to a low cost of living area where I have the luxury of being able to afford a freelance life. (And quit a job that was literally giving me anxiety.) This means a day like this is pretty typical – working on the computer for a few hours before completing all the weird tasks I need to do to keep things going.

Other than that, it’s pretty typical with just a few modifications to make a day without waste a little bit easier. Here’s the video version – and the field notes about everything I’m doing/using can be found below. Happy watching!

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My husband has to be at work by 7, so I’m up early with him. Mornings are for chasing around a wide-awake cat, checking on the garden, making food for the day, and getting downtown to the coworking studio to get stuff done. It’s a 10-minute bike ride of 30-minute walk, so that’s my exercise sorted for the day.

Brushing my teeth with: The Green Root bamboo toothbrush and a DIY tooth powder from Going Zero Waste

Wearing: FLAX linen shirt, Mossimo skinny jeans, and Dansko shoes (all thrifted/from eBay)

Getting ready with: DabHerbMakeup Organic Herb Mascara (plastic case :/), NYX black Gel Eyeliner, DIY facial toner, DIY 3-ingredient deodorant

Breakfast: banana, coconut, and peanut butter smoothie with a wide smoothie straw. People always ask, too, so I got these plastic jar lids that are total lifesavers and – while plastic – will get years and years of use.

Working with: my indestructible Boreas Topaz 18 backpack and a collapsible Stojo mug for all the coffee


I typically work on actual work things for about five hours a day. By noon, I’m wrapping up and getting ready to head home. Today I went home earlier so carted around my packed lunch for nothing! Once I’m home I do tasks like cooking, cleaning, gardening, or whatever else needs to get done around the house.

Wearing: thrifted linen dress because I sweat through all my clothes on the way home.

Eating and using: salad with homemade black bean burger, spinach, mushroom, and feta cheese in oil as a dressing. Packed in a stainless steel tiffin from dedicated eBay searches and using To-Go Ware bamboo utensils

Afternoon tasks: writing, editing, and photographic for my new e-book 15 Recipes for Zero Waste Success. Watering plants using a rain barrel I got for just $25 from the city (if you live within a certain area in Lafayette, IN, you qualify for the grant – find out more here) Doing laundry and then making more laundry detergent (recipe here). Rotating the compost bin when I think of it.

Snacking on: homemade bread with locally-made jam and a Health-Ade Kombucha. (Full disclosure: they sent some for me to try and they’re great!)

Portrait of a zero waste day in the life <p data-wpview-marker=


Aside from a few evenings of activities, I’m starting to wind down. Another hour or so of work. Making sure nothing needs to be watered in the garden. Cooking up dinner. Trying to read before going to bed, etc.

dinner: black bean burger on homemade bread with lettuce, red cabbage and apple/ginger sauerkraut, and a local vegan cheese.

Evening tasks: still trying to finally finish Animal, Vegetable, Miracle after it’s been recommended so many times. Taking out our small indoor compost bin to the larger one outside. Showering (see below).

Cleaning up with: a variety of different bar soaps. Hair care products from Dulse and Rugosa. Coconut oil and a washcloth for makeup remover. Rosehip-infused facial toner (DIY from 15 Recipes for Zero Waste Success).

And that’s it! That was my day. Does a zero waste day in the life seem less mysterious now? Because let me tell you, it’s as mundane as anything! There’s nothing special about a zero waste life aside from being more conscious of what you’re consuming.


Green Indy is a blog about zero waste, minimalism, and generally being less of an a**hole to our Earth (Indianapolis, specifically) by me, Polly Barks. I’m a writer, teacher, and a natural-born researcher/experimenter.

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