How to Go Zero Waste at Home

Last Update: September 27, 2022

If going zero waste at home feels more aspirational than realistic, take your next cue from today’s post. We’re sharing easy ideas, practical swaps, and lots of encouragement to help you take control of your own space. Remember: you don’t have to do everything at once. In fact, it’s easier to form habits and make long-term changes when you thoughtfully approach one aspect of home waste at a time. See which ideas feel doable and lean in. Once you’ve mastered a process (like composting or shopping without plastic bags), move on to the next swap.

How to Create a Zero-Waste Home Kitchen

Kitchens are often ground zero for a successful zero-waste strategy. From packages left on countertops and stools, to produce and boxes on their way to the fridge or pantry, tackling this high-traffic area can help you make strides when it comes to figuring out how to minimize waste.


Want a quick win? Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Reusable totes come in all shapes and sizes, and you can use them to pack your items instead of opting for the paper or plastic bags offered at the store.

Save your scraps

Composting is good for the planet and your garden—and it’s also a great way to get the whole family involved in your zero-waste lifestyle. To get started, pick up a zero-waste compost bin that can sit on the counter (don’t worry, a special mesh lining captures odor), and every time you cook, just toss your scraps inside. Once or twice a week, bring your pail to a spot outside designated as your compost zone. (You can request an outdoor container through your city or order one online, or create an open pile if you have enough yard space.)

How to Start Composting
Think of the process like making lasagna. You want to layer food scraps, green matter, and brown matter.

Brown matter (rich in carbon)

  • Cardboard
  • Dead leaves
  • Paper
  • Pine needles
  • Sawdust
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Straw
  • Twigs
  • Wood chips

Green matter (rich in nitrogen)

  • Bread
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Dead plants
  • Eggshells
  • Fruits
  • Grains (cooked, plain)
  • Grass clippings
  • Tea bags
  • Vegetables

What not to compost

  • Black walnut tree leaves and twigs
  • Charcoal
  • Dairy products
  • Diseased plants
  • Dryer or vacuum lint from synthetic fabrics
  • Fats or oils
  • Glossy paper (especially with color printing)
  • Meat or fish scraps or bones
  • Pet waste

Ways to minimize plastic waste

Eliminating plastic bags is one of many ways we can make a difference, but there are a lot of plastic bags in our lives. Sandwich bags, produce bags, packaging … the list goes on. It can certainly feel like a tall order to rid your home from plastic, but here are a few places to start.

  • Zero-waste reusable produce bags: Instead of reaching for a plastic bag at the grocery store, bring your own reusable bags to fill.
  • Reusable bags: Zippered bags are ideal for sandwiches, snacks, and general food storage in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. Pick up a few packs and you’ll be using them in your rotation in no time.

Recycle and reuse

Jelly jars, pickle jars, and quality takeout tubs can all be repurposed throughout your home. Use jars to hold art supplies and utensils, or add them as food storage containers for leftovers.

Paper swap

Think you can’t live without a roll of paper towels within arms reach? Trying reusable cloths and microfiber rags can help you move towards a more sustainable lifestyle. You can even make your own by cutting up old towels or t-shirts.

More Zero Waste Tips from Thrive Market

After one of our Thrivers tried going zero waste for seven days, we asked for her best tips. Here are four recommendations.

  • Plan ahead: It’s easier to reach for reusable containers and water bottles when you set them out the night before.
  • Shop in bulk: Lots of pantry staples can be purchased in bulk at your local grocery store, which is a great opportunity to use your own containers.
  • Stay educated: Living a zero-waste lifestyle is something you grow into over time. Find your favorite blogs, magazines, online resources, and online communities to keep yourself learning.
  • Go easy on yourself: As we mentioned, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Just do what you can and go slow.

How to Be Zero Waste at Home

Here are some of our favorite products to help your home be more eco-friendly.

ChicoBag rePete Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags

Single-use bags, be gone! Made with machine-washable materials, this set of eco-conscious bags is kinder to the environment and makes a top-notch plastic alternative.

Thrive Market Shopping Tote

Our reusable bag is made from recycled plastic bottles and makes it easy to skip the plastic bags at checkout. Keep a few in your car so you always have one ready.

New Wave Enviro Kid Basix Safe Snacker Food Storage Containers

This BPA-free food-storage container is ready for snack time. The lid is removable for easy washing, and a stainless steel base can hold crackers, fruit, and more.

Zero waste plastic wrap

Try an assorted three-pack to get the hang of using innovative wraps as a reliable alternative to plastic wrap. Made from organic cotton coated with antibacterial jojoba oil and beeswax, these wraps can cover everything from a piece of cheese to cut fruit.

To-Go Ware 3 Tier Stainless Steel Food Carrier

A stainless steel and dishwasher-safe tiffin set makes it easy to enjoy a to-go lunch or picnic. Use the containers for salads, soup, snacks, or desserts.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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