Explore the 12 zones of zero waste living

I thought I know what I was doing when I decided I’m never making trash again! at the very start of my zero waste journey in 2015. Uh… that’s not how it works. I went all in, telling myself I’d never make trash again, and got really discouraged when I just kept making trash.

I failed. Hard.

Because I was trying to research information, make changes, and – you know – live my own life in every area of my life all at once. No method, just madness.

When I finally admitted to myself I wasn’t going to switch to a trash-less life in just a few days, I took a step back and looked at the situation critically. Cultivating a meaningful, sustainable zero waste lifestyle is a long, ongoing process.

After several years of practice, wins, fails, and a lot of education, I’ve found the way I wish I’d looked at zero waste in the first place: through twelve different, but interconnected zones of life. By segmenting the idea of zero waste, it gets a little easier to tackle. 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!”.

The twelve zones don’t cover all aspect of your life or zero waste, but are super applicable to everyone. And – let’s face it – covering the basics and a bit beyond is more than enough work as it is!

Find out more about the twelve zero waste zones below:


The zones as described in the infographic are:

  • Zone 1: A Waste-Free Kitchen. From food waste to packaging to water waste, the kitchen is a minefield of potential excess.
Want a free sample lesson on zone 1? ready to learn how to reduce waste in your kitchen and save money right now? get the lesson sent to your inbox instantly!

  • Zone 2: A Waste-Free Bathroom. The bathroom is full of many items we can choose to not repurchase, DIY, or find non-disposable alternatives for.
  • Zone 3: Green Cleaning. Toxic chemicals, plastic packaging, and expensive prices. Why do we buy so many cleaning supplies again?
  • Zone 4: Zero Waste IRL. The most underrated piece of advice about practicing zero waste outside of the home is this: be prepared with a zero waste kit.
  • Zone 5: A Low-Waste Workplace. Everyone can do is focus on reducing the ways they make waste at their work and gently guide co-workers in the same direction.
  • Zone 6: Minimizing Mindfully.  Avoiding the landfill while minimizing is possible, but takes some mindfulness during the process.
  • Zone 7: Your At-Home Garden. Creating your own garden and feeding yourself is so important to becoming more aware of our food habits.
  • Zone 8: De-Trash Travel. Having a small plan is an important way to reduce the waste you create while in an unfamiliar place.
  • Zone 9: All About Composting. Reducing food waste and diverting organic matter from the landfill is one of the most critical aspects of a zero waste lifestyle.
  • Zone 10: An Ethical Wardrobe. A zero waste wardrobe is a closet in which nothing (or very little) will go to the landfill once your clothes have reached the end of your life.
  • Zone 11: Community Action. Individual exploration of zero waste is critical to the success of a bigger change, but only if we turn individual action into community action.
  • Zone 12: Zero Waste Holidays. What better way to reduce your impact on the planet than by eschewing presents bought just to fill up the space under the tree?

Of course there are other areas of zero waste we could explore, but twelve is more than enough for any of us to choose from!What zone has been easier for you to make changes in? What zone has been the most difficult?

If you’re interested in assessing where you’re at in each zone and simple, actionable ways to improve where you need to, download the free mini-course and assessment guide below! If you want to deep dive even further, consider joining The Essential Zero Waste Blueprint when registration re-opens!

12 Zones of Zero Waste Living - Green Indy Blog

Polly Barks Green Indy

Welcome to Green Indy! I’m Polly, and I’m here to show you that zero waste can be more accessible than you think. Ready to get started? Head this way.