Zero Waste – a room by room guide

So, what is “zero waste”?  Well, for me, it means sending as little waste to landfill as possible.  Yes, we recycle, but recycling is not a magic bullet – it is a hugely energy-intensive and polluting process where many products, particularly plastic, are down-graded into lower quality products and will eventually end up in landfill.  So, recycling is not the best option.

I find it helpful to follow the 5 R’s, in order:


Here’s a room-by-room rundown of the changes we’ve made so far on our journey to zero waste.



Pantry staples from Bulk Barn Henderson using BYO cloth bags and jars

Some food refills from Organics Out West

Bread from local bakery in BYO bag

Fruit & veges from the Avondale Markets using mesh produce bags & BYO tofu container (or I go to a local fruit & vege store and ask for not-yet-packaged produce from the packing room)

Takeaways using BYO containers

Restaurant food:  request no straw or disposable items and have a container handy for leftovers

muslin bagsonya weighfoodinjars2

Homemade food…

Food waste…

Compost!  So easy, free (after initial compost bin purchase) and great for your garden.  Check out the free composting workshops run by The Compost Collective


knitted dish cloth

Wooden dish brush

Knitted dishcloths

Homemade spray cleaner

Ecostore bulk refill dishwashing liquid (available at Freemans Bay store)

Ecostore dishwasher tablets


Compostable Go Bamboo toothbrushes and homemade toothpaste:

Ecostore bulk refill shampoo (available at Freemans Bay store)

Ecostore package-free soap (available at Freemans Bay store)

Cloth toilet wipes (being used part-time…not fully committed!)…we have a simple, clean system – used wipes are popped into a lidded bin next to the loo and then thrown in the wash.  No smell…no waste…easy peasy!

toilet wipes

Greencane recycled sugarcane/bamboo toilet paper

Homemade air freshener

Lunette menstrual cup

lunette cup

Cloth panty liners

panty liners

Cloth tissues/hankies

Homemade deoderant (I do the low-fi version of this recipe, without the shea butter – and just mix the ingredients together)

Stainless steel safety razor



Eco Planet laundry powderbaking soda vinegar

Knitted washcloths

Homemade spray cleaner

Homemade “Jif” cleaning paste

Drain cleaner:  white vinegar & baking soda from Bulk Barn Henderson with BYO containers

Reusable cloth vacuum cleaner bag


BUBBA’S ROOM (Savana has been toilet-trained for quite some time, but when she was a bub we used the following…)

Cloth nappies:  Real Nappies purchased secondhand on TradeMe

Baby wipes:  cotton washcloths


Bought secondhand on TradeMe – if not available for local pick-up, I request sustainable (paper/cardboard) packaging.

Gifts are usually either secondhand, homemade or “experience gifts” (vouchers for massage etc.)  Buy Nothing Christmasfuroshiki-main

For gift wrapping, we either recycle paper/boxes we already have or we use the furoshiki fabric wrapping method

We’ve been working towards zero waste for the last three years.  One step at a time.  Some areas that we will need to find solutions for once we run out of resources are:

  • stationery
  • art supplies
  • make up
  • first aid

7 thoughts on “Zero Waste – a room by room guide

  1. Thanks for a great post! I haven’t tried the homemade toothpaste yet but we’re going to give it a go, and our family are gradually shifting over to wooden toothbrushes – 3 of the 6 of us have wood toothbrushes now, with the remaining 3 of us still using our current plastic brushes.

    Zero waste takes time. Every little bit helps, and we’re finding that just making some small changes – buying in bulk is a big one – makes a huge difference over time. We’re getting there, but it’s a slow process! But we’ve managed to drop our waste (for a family of 6) down to one wheelie bin per 5 weeks. Which I think is pretty good 🙂


  2. THANK YOU!! What a terrific resource. I bow humbly to you for your persistence and tenacity. I know how much time it takes to make your own products. Even if you don’t make your own products, washing all the reusables and maintaining supplies requires extra time and care as well.

    Incidentally, I clicked on the link to the “Jif” easy cleaner and got a broken link page. Would love to learn more about that.

    As for makeup, you may be interested in Sophie Uliano’s book, Do It Gorgeously, which has recipes for a number of homemade beauty products.

    Frankly, I always find the women who wear no makeup more beautiful. Also, the simpler the better. For instance, a cold water splash does the work of an astringent. A light application of raw organic coconut oil makes for a great all purpose moisturizer, and is available in glass jars. I’ve seen a few recipes online for making one’s own coconut oil from whole coconuts, but not sure that would be worth the trouble.

    Thanks again for a wonderful resource. It will take me a while to check all these out, and I imagine quite a few of them are not available in the States, but I’ll have fun following the links all the same.


    1. Haha – no need for any bowing, Kathryn. Zero waste is hard work to begin with because you need to gather reusable products, find new places to shop package-free and you have to put thought into activities that used to be completed on auto-pilot. But once you have your new routines sorted, it’s pretty simple. Thankfully, I don’t find it any more work than my pre – zero waste life. I’m not a fan of spending hours in the kitchen, so I try to use the easiest recipes possible and there’s not really any extra effort required to wash reusables (hooray for the washing machine and dishwasher!). Thank you for the beauty tips. To be honest, my “beauty routine” is pretty minimalistic (Wash face. Dry face. Apply a sweep of eye shadow. Good to go.). I’m too lazy to bother with the tone and moisturise palaver. If I’m having an evening out, I might throw on some mascara, and if I’m really flash, some eye liner. But that’s where the beauty routine ends. It’s possible, that with the small amount of make-up I use, what I have already will last me a lifetime! Also, many thanks for letting me know about the broken link – all fixed now! Thanks again for your comments and advice. Go well on your journey to zero waste 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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