A while into my zero waste explorations I had the bright idea of creating a system of looking at zero waste that I wish I’d had when I started exploring: the 12 zones of zero waste.

As I thought about the struggles I went through when I first started trying zero waste and felt so. overwhelmed. with everything I had to do, what made sense to me was creating a clear way of dividing up how we tackled such a big problem. Of course the 12 zones aren’t the be-all-end-all of sustainable living but it is an easy framework to get started on becoming more confident and knowledgeable about how you impact the planet.

Plus, it can help fight that sustainable overwhelm feeling we get when there’s just. too. much. to. deal. with.

Because the goal of “I’m going to audit my bathroom cabinet and swap two products” is so much more realistic and manageable than “I’m never making trash again!”.

How to tackle the hard parts of zero waste

While dividing zero waste into zones is all well and good, actually doing something about it is a whole different story. Because that’s the thing, isn’t it? We can read and digest information, make plans, argue over whether we’re “zero waste” or “low impact” all we want, but if we’re not making changes… none of it actually matters.

So I’ve taken three of the most challenging zones (as told to me by you all on Instagram and through e-mail exchanges!) and outlined them below.

Take some (or all!) of these actionable tips and integrate them into your life. Then, move onto your next lifestyle swap in the next zone!

[Zone 1] A low-waste kitchen

A Low-Waste Kitchen

Zero waste kitchen swaps: so necessary. The kitchen the biggest waste-generator of all, no matter how low waste you get! From food waste to packaging to water waste, the kitchen is a minefield of potential excess. Particularly for someone like me who spends a lot of time cooking.

Here are the the steps I took to tackle this zone:

  • Do a trash audit. Look deep into your trash! We can’t fix a problem if we don’t know exactly what it is so get to know the waste you make intimately.
  • Consider bulk shopping (but think beyond it). Shopping low-waste is important but not the most important part of a zero waste lifestyle. Learn how to bulk shop even without bulk and why zero waste isn’t zero.
  • Stop wasting food. Food waste is the one of the biggest waste issue our planet faces. Challenge yourself to reduce waste.
[Zone 2] A Waste-Free Bathroom

A Waste-Free Bathroom

You might not think it, but the bathroom is a great place for anyone to jump start their zero waste journey. It’s a space of our house we often tuck away and forget about, despite using it for some of the – ahem – most vital functions. In fact, the bathroom is full of many items we can choose to not repurchase, DIY, or find non-disposable alternatives for.

Here are the the steps I took to tackle this zone:

  • Assess your shower. Shampoo, conditioner, washes, and tons of other products that probably have chemicals you don’t want in your waterways. You can start by finding low-waste hair care options.
  • Assess your sink. Soaps, lotions, makeup! The amount of heavily-packaged products continues!
  • Consider your water usage. Remember: zero waste is about far more than the plastic waste you can see. How much water do you use in the bathroom and how can you reduce usage?

Do one or more of these sections sound too overwhelming or not up your alley? That’s totally fine!

Just like I share in The Essential Zero Waste Blueprint, there’s no right way to go through the zones. Each has some connection with the others and they all add up to one holistic, happy zero waste lifestyle. Still, I think it’s good to tackle bits and pieces of a difficult zone at first – just to prove you can.

By the way: if The Essential Zero Waste Blueprint sounds like it could be helpful to you, grab a PDF of what’s to come!


[Zone 9] All About Composting

All About Composting

Composting at home can seem overwhelming, but the fact is it’s a very simple process that almost everyone can use effectively. Whether you live in a tiny apartment or have space in your backyard, we’ll work together to create a simple composting option.

Here are the the steps I took to tackle this zone:

  • Find your composting sweet spot. Look into the different types of composting options and which might work for you.
  • Challenge yourself. Experiment with how much food waste you can divert into composting. It’ll really change the way you look at trash!
  • Find outside arrangements. Really have no way to compost at home? Look into your community and what options might be there for you.

So that’s the three biggest trouble areas for zero waste according to many of the people I talk to. But breaking them down makes these big ideas a little more manageable, right?

All of these zones – and more – are covered in-depth in The Essential Zero Waste BlueprintEvery month of The Essential Zero Waste Blueprint will have 3-5 mini-lessons like this to guide you through your zero waste journey. You’ll also gain exclusive access into the private Blueprint community, where you can ask questions, share discoveries, and attend bi-monthly live workshops that I’ll be hosting! Find out more about the program here.

How to tackle the 3 most difficult zero waste zones - Green Indy Blog

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An online resource here to help you break down the complex issue of zero waste into simple, actionable steps.