As global greenhouse emissions continue to rise and politicians continue their douchebaggery, a general feeling of helplessness on an individual level is not an entirely uncommon thing. 

Though there are many ways to take action (I shared 35 of them HERE), one of the most direct ways to reduce your impact on the planet, signal industry and government, and make a difference is to adjust what you bring into and out of your home. 

The way we produce, transport, consume and dispose of our food accounts for a huge part of global greenhouse emissions, so by choosing food that is produced organically, ethically and locally - buying products without packaging, and disposing of any unavoidable waste responsibly - we automatically reduce our impact ... and if enough of us do it, it will help reduce the various issues caused by it; from plastic to greenhouse gasses. 
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That age-old green mantra 'reduce, reuse, recycle' comes in handy when you're shopping, and when going zero waste, you just adjust it slightly to Bea Johnson's: 'Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot' (in that order). Refusing packaging, buying less, buying local, buying products in items that can be reused, recycled, or composted makes all the difference in terms of your household's impact on the world. 

While it might be difficult to get used to, it is an easy, cheap, and socially responsible thing to do, and once you get the hang of it, it's kinda fun too.


My husfriend and I have been adjusting to living a zero-waste lifestyle since I embarked on my #GoneGreen2016 series last year; and while I make my utmost efforts to remain waste-free, reality forces me to take the word take the word 'zero' lightly.

The reality for us is that there simply aren't the same solutions available in France - even a grand ole city like Paris - that there are in North America. Plus there's the added issue of space. For one, we have a super small fridge (about the size of a Yeti Cooler) and we don’t own a car, so everything we buy we have to physically carry and be able to fit in our fridge and the two cupboards we have when we get home. To not allow this to hinder us, we normally shop 2-3x per week to stay stocked. 

The other issue we face is that we eat vegan and gluten-free at home, so buying things like tofu, rice milk, rice cakes, gluten-free oatmeal, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free beer, and gluten-free crackers zero waste just isn't a possibility where we live, as it isn't available in the bulk sections of our stores. But we could improve by making our own or ordering paper wrapped versions in bulk. 

Despite still producing waste in our 'zero waste' lifestyle, throwing out the trash, my ultimate least favourite chore, isn't really a chore anymore. Our recycling, which is housed in an old wine box, fills up about once a week; while our garbage, which is the size of a small grocery bag (but in a plastic-free pot), fills up about once a month. The rest goes to our community garden compost to 'rot'.

Learning how to responsibly get rid of your waste and how to responsibly reduce your consumption of non-reusables is easier than it seems and incredibly self-fulfilling once you get the hang of it. 

To help anyone curious on the journey towards wasting very little, I've put together my tools and tricks for where I live which will hopefully be adaptable to where you are. I wholeheartedly encourage you to try it - even just for a week - just to see how adaptable you truly are. Even if you don't go down to zero, less is definitely more overall.
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Body Soap
Laundry Detergent
Dish Detergent
Orange Juice


[The Zero Waste Store OR The Organic Shop]
We pretty much shop at the zero waste store just to refill what we have and perhaps fill up on nuts, super berries and dried goods. Because it is far away from us, we only really go there when we need to refill our oil or detergents. Otherwise, we go to our local organic stores where we can get unpackaged produce and bulk dried food as well. You can search out all the bulk stores in the USA using the Zero Waste Home app HERE.

[The Farmer's Market]
There is a market once a week near our house, again, it’s about a 20-minute walk, so we sometimes default to buying our groceries from the organic store which is closer and always available. They have food that is in season here in France, just like the market, so they’re basically on par apart from the price point. The Market is significantly cheaper, and much more vibrant. 
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[SOAPS / OILS / DETERGENTS] When refilling your soaps, oils and detergents, weigh your bottle first and mark on the outside with a marker what its weight is. This allows you to refill from half full and not be charged for the full bottle. Fill up what you need, then bring it to the counter, you’ll only be charged for the additional weight of what you’ve put inside the container. 

[PRODUCE / GRAINS / NUTS] For produce, nuts and grains and such, I don’t weigh my bags first and just fill them right up. It doesn’t make a significant difference and it’s a pain in the butt the other way around because unless I’m at the designated 'zero waste store', then I have to weigh each product outside the bag and get the sticker ... which can be difficult with things like flour ... The cashier can’t reduce the weight of the bag with their current system so I recommend getting lightweight bags to save you the hassle. 

[EGGS / MEAT / FISH / CHEESE] Though we don’t eat these products much anymore, the organic grocery stores also offer zero waste eggs, cheese and bread. So when we were still eating those things we’d bring our egg carton back and refill with the loose eggs, our bee's wrap which we could wrap the freshly cut cheese in, and our bread bag or bread wrap to get bread from their bakery or our local Boulangerie. If we were eating meat we would use a Tupperware and go straight to the butcher which is down the street and have he or she fill the Tupperware with whatever meat we might need. For fish we would bring the Tupperware to the fishmonger and do the same, having him or her fill up our containers with the fish we need.

[WINE / BEER] There are some shops where you can refill up wine and beer, but they’re quite far away from us (we used to live down the street from one!) so we tend to buy local craft beer in glass bottles and local wine in glass bottles as well and recycle them when we’ve consumed them. When I'm in the area of the refill wine and beer place I'll grab some but in the spirit of transparency, I have to admit that's not too often!


If you don't have a zero waste shop near your house, there are also other options available:

1. MAKE IT YOURSELF: Pinterest has a plethora of zero waste DIYs from condiments to beauty products that can teach you how to make just about anything you can dream of, yourself.

2. BUY STUFF IN COMPOSTABLE PACKAGING: If it comes in paper or cardboard it can be composted with your food scraps!

3. GLASS OVER PLASTIC: Try to always choose glass packaging over plastic packaging as it can be recycled widely and is easier to reuse!

4. MUST USE PLASTIC? Check the type of plastic HERE to make sure it can be recycled.

5. BULK: If you live in a decent sized home, buy everything in bulk, that way you can reduce the packaging you're taking in and the packaging you throw out. You can search out all the bulk stores in the USA using the Zero Waste Home app HERE.

6. BUY LOCAL / IN SEASON FOOD: The average American meal has ingredients produced in at least five other country's and transportation increases CO2 emissions. To avoid this all together, go to to find the farmers' market nearest you ... or just google 'farmers' market, (your city)'

7. COMPOST: Composting reduces emissions going up AND pulls carbon down by storing it in the soil.

8. RECYCLE: While recycling still uses energy, it greatly reduces the amount of energy used to make brand new stuff and puts less pressure on our resources. For example, it takes 95 percent less energy to make an aluminum can out of recycled aluminum than out of raw virgin materials.
PHOTOS: Shane Woodward
** I was gifted the upcycled rice tote bag by the lovely people from Lost In Samsara 
** there are affiliate links in this post which offer me a small percentage of the sale which helps cover the time I put into research and writing