7 Things


Do you want to start helping reduce your environmental impact but don’t feel like spending any additional money? Seems impossible, right? Well, here are 7 things that are zero cost & zero waste.

Put a recycling bin in your bathroom

It can be hard to remember to bring the empty lotion or shampoo bottles downstairs to the recycling bin (most likely in the kitchen) and so those shampoo / conditioner and lotion bottles often just end up in the trash. I’ve been there, but those are actually good recyclable (#1 or #2) plastics so definitely worth the effort to recycle. Don’t forget to add the toilet paper rolls and tissue boxes to the bin. We just use a cardboard box for our bathroom recycling so we didn’t buy another plastic waste bin.

Skip or Reuse Produce Bags in the Grocery Store

I once used plastic bags for everything in the produce section but now simply put fruits and vegetables directly into my grocery cart. I mean, c’mon, they already have a natural wrapper on them and were outside laying in dirt before they were in the store! So avocados, bananas, oranges, lemons, limes, mangoes  etc. all go bagless until checkout. I use my own cloth produce bags for most everything else but if I don’t have those with me or run out, I will just throw food like apples or broccoli into the cart. I always give them a good rinse with a gentle organic soap before we eat anyways! If you want to keep them contained and don’t have your own produce or grocery bags with you just go ahead and grab a paper bag from checkout to use while shopping. Paper bags are way more recyclable than the plastic produce bags!

Buy What you Can in Jars or Plastic Containers Instead of Packets

Packets are one of the worst offenders in terms of their recyclability. Skip the applesauce, baby food or yogurt pouches and buy in a glass jar (first choice) or in a plastic container. I have yet to find yogurt in a glass jar but if you have a grocery store that carries it, lucky you for that eco win! There are also sotres that carry bulk yogurt, so you can fill your own jars up. You can pack the applesauce and yogurt in a small glass mason jar with a spoon for your child’s lunch or directly into a bento box. As a bonus, your child will get extra fine motor skill development from using a spoon versus a pouch.

Buy in Bulk

These mangos are in the plastic bag Whole Foods uses to fill their bulk bins.

These mangos are in the plastic bag Whole Foods uses to fill their bulk bins.

Whether that means going to the bulk section of a local store or to Costco, the more you can get within one plastic package the better. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have a bulk store nearby. In reality, the items that get put into the bulk bins at stores like Whole Foods don’t come in that large of a plastic bag so sometimes Costco isn’t that much worse of an option depending on what you buy. If purchasing from Costco, I try to find the items that are in one large package versus a big package of lots of little packages.

Ditch Disposable Snack Bags and Make Your Own

Whether that means reusing glass or plastic packages you already have or buying Stasher bags or metal snack containers, try and avoid purchasing those big boxes of snack bags. The extra effort to go to your pantry and put food in a small package for you or your child for lunch matters.

Say No to the Straw

It’s not an actual drinking necessity! If you think it is though, you can purchase your own. I’m a straw chewer (if you know, you know) so the ones with silicone on the end are game changers.

BYO On the Go

Remember to pack your own to-go cup, bag and cutlery. You can get a fancy to go cup or are just bring an old mason jar or coffee cup you already own. The same goes for cutlery. You can purchase a sleek bag with bamboo cutlery inside or simply throw silverware that you already own wrapped in a napkin into your bag. And I know you already own at least one canvas grocery bag that you can pack, but if you don’t sign up for ours here!

What are some zero cost, zero waste switches you have made?

Going Plastic Free: It All Started in the Kitchen


My rising level of anxiety about the massive waste problem that I was contributing to with my careless consumption of plastics finally got to me. 91% of plastic is not recycled. Plastic production is outpacing waste management, let alone recycling, and a significant portion of the problem comes down to our addiction to single-use packaging and disposable products. I decided I was going to try to stop buying single-use plastics.

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The kitchen is where I began because it is where we spend most of our time and where most of our waste accumulates. I hoped to shop completely plastic free, no produce bags, no to-go grocery bags and no food wrapped in plastic. In the end, only the last part was actually hard.

First, I made a complete list of the items we had in our fridge and pantry. I then took that list to the local stores that sell food in bulk and made a check next to the items that I could buy in bulk, a P, G or A next to items that could be purchased in paper, glass or aluminum/metal. I would decide later if I actually needed the remaining items on the list and if so how I would make the best zero waste choice to get them.

Once I knew what and how much I was going to buy in bulk, I got glass storage containers for everything. While plastic storage bins aren’t single-use plastic, I still wanted to buy in glass since its a better recyclable material. It seems crazy to think about what is going to happen to your storage containers in 100 years, but plastic is not going to biodegrade within that time period (more like 4 or 5 times that) so I’ll always choose to purchase in a more sustainable material if I have the option. Plus glass is beautiful and transparent and everything I want for pantry storage.

Once you have the storage bins ready to hold everything from your grocery haul, you are almost ready for plastic-free shopping! Before you go to the store though, you will need to make sure you are ready with all you need to shop. I typically bring:

2-4 Glass storage containers for prepared foods section

2-6 Produce/bulk bags

2-4 Grocery bags

2-4 Bread bags or Beeswax Wrap

If you are shopping with glassware in the bulk bin section, you will need to get them tared first since they’re heavy and you don’t want to pay extra. Go to the checkout right when you walk in (bring your own sharpie if you remember) and have them write the tare weight on the top lid. If you do this the first time with permanent marker, then you won’t need to again. The people working in the prepared-food section have their own scale and can tare your containers before filling so there is no need to go to the checkout if those are only glass items you are shopping with.

I often put the bulk items in my canvas eco bags (they have the tare weights on the tags) and then fill the jars at home. This makes my load lighter and less noisy! The only downside is having to guess how much bulk food to fill the bags with. I usually bring at least two of my Bayco glass storage containers for the prepared foods section for the deli meat/cheese counter, salad bar and hot foods bar. It probably changes from store to store but I have found a lot of foods like yogurt, strawberries and blueberries that are normally only sold in plastic in this section!

Fresh bread from the bakery has been one of the most enjoyable outcomes of me going plastic free. I can’t believe I haven’t been buying fresh bread all along! To purchase bread from the bakery plastic free you simply go to the counter with your bread bag and they will fill it for you with your bread choice, sliced and everything and then hand you a payment sticker for checkout. I love the bread bags I got by adore amore. I keep the bread in these bread bags or in beeswax wrap and then for extra freshness I also put the bags in a bread box at home. We found one that holds 2-3 loaves of bread.

Overall I have found that plastic-free grocery shopping is not complicated once you are organized. The people who work in the store, and even other shoppers, are usually really helpful (and impressed by your efforts!).

Happy Shopping!

Once you have your bulk items, bread or produce, you want to make sure you have the proper places to store them! Here is a roundup of the essentials I have used for at home storage.



Ball Mason Jars

I love ball mason jars. They are great for smaller item storage and also can be used for so many different things. We use them as smoothie cups for the kids with these silicone top covers and as drinking glasses for ourselves. I especially love them for wine! Because they are such a staple, you can buy so many useful accessories for them like lids with straw holes and silicone sleeves to prevent breaking. I don’t mind the two part lid locking system, but if you hate it then you can get the twist tops.

Le Parfait

If you prefer an attached top and want high quality glass storage, go with Le Parfait. They are very similar to Ball mason jars but have a fancier look. I like having both.

Bormioli Rocco Fido Jars

Bormioli Rocco Fido Jars are very lovely and similar to Le Parfait with an attached lid.

Anchor Hocking Montana Jars with Acacia Lid

Perfect for the pantry items that you really stock up on and want easy access to. We put everything from our mango slices and cashews to our flour and oats in these containers. The top is wide enough for dipping a measuring cup or for grabbing a handful of nuts. The lid is airtight but easy enough to undo so you can grab those snacks with one arm while holding the baby with the other. Win!

Bayco Glass Meal Prep Containers

I don’t love that the lids are plastic but I had a hard time finding airtight glass storage with quality bamboo lids. I also wanted a container that would have a clasp since I often throw these in my purse on the go, whether to the grocery store for pre-made items or out to dinner for takeaway.

Bread Box

A fun item to shop for. Style depends on you and your kitchen.



For me the desire to reduce my waste started with composting. There were signs in most of our neighbors’ yards when we moved to Durham, North Carolina about a curbside composting service called Compost Now! I had hardly heard of composting before moving, but it was very much the thing to do in Durham. I immediately ordered a trial subscription to see how we liked it. We ordered one bin and felt shocked yet satisfied at all that was going into the compost bin.


Our spoiled leftovers, paper towels, pizza boxes and so much more would turn into a rich, soil-like substance that we could keep or donate to a local garden. I loved knowing exactly where our waste was going, especially after I learned that food and yard waste makes up 30% of what we throw away and that when food waste decomposes in landfills it releases methane gas which is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Since September, we have diverted 250 pounds of food waste from going into landfills!

For us, composting was so easy. We collected all of our food waste into airtight compost bins that we kept in a low, easy to access cabinet. Some people keep theirs in the freezer to reduce the smell but besides when we open it to add more food, the smell is pretty contained within the compost bins. Our collection day is on Tuesday, so we just put the bin outside on the curb like trash pickup and they replace our bin with new empty ones for the week. After we started, I was amazed how much less trash we had and then shocked at how much of it was non recyclable plastic. That was when I got inspired to try going plastic free.

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Don’t have a local curbside compost? Check if your local farmers market will take food scraps for compost. Otherwise, the EPA has a helpful post about backyard and indoor composting.