A Beginner's Guide to Zero Waste

20 December 2018

Did you know that of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced since the 1950s, 79% has ended up in landfills or the environment, 12% has been burned and only 9% has been recycled? I started my zero waste journey after realising the importance of refusing plastic over ‘recycling’ it.

Let’s start with a topic that’s often not talked about - periods. The first change I made was investing in a reusable menstrual cup to save a lot of waste from disposable sanitary products. I’ve been using a Mooncup for over two years and it’s by far the best swap I’ve made so far!

Say ‘goodbye’ to expensive bottled drinks and ‘hello’ to free tap water. I switched to a Klean Kanteen 532ml stainless steel water bottle instead of buying single-use plastic bottles. I love how it’s portable, non-breakable and will last for years. The lid contains bamboo which adds to the sustainable feel. If you can find a reusable water bottle second-hand, like my sister did, even better!


When it comes to grocery shopping, a little organisation goes a long way. I take reusable shopping and produce bags with me to avoid using single-use plastic and paper bags. Now we have to pay 5p for plastic bags in Scotland, more people are bringing their own bags. I hope it will become a habit for people to bring their own produce bags too.

I’ve enjoyed making my stationery more of a plastic free zone. I swapped plastic parcel tape for a kraft paper alternative which looks much nicer and is recyclable. When I needed a ruler, I consciously decided to buy a simple wooden one over a plastic one. I’m also reusing empty glass jars to store pens and pencils instead of using plastic boxes.


Some tea bags contain plastic, which prevents them from fully breaking down in food waste or compost and contributes to plastic pollution. Good news if you drink Yogi Tea because their tea bags are free from plastic! My favourite tea is saved - fingers-crossed yours is too.

It seems daunting to live a zero waste lifestyle if you focus on the word ‘zero’. Instead of aiming for perfection from day one, I started by making a few small changes that will add up to make a big difference.

Have you started your zero waste journey?