How to Go Zero Waste While Living At Home

Zero Waste While Living At Home

Spread the Sustainable Gospel!

You may feel constrained while living at home when attempting to reduce waste. Like you have little to no control over what enters your home. And there is some truth to that. I’m assuming that you do not buy the groceries for the household, pay the bills, or entirely decide what the family does outside of the home. It’s ok. Just because you have decided to embark on a waste reducing journey while those around you have not doesn’t mean that you have zero power. There is actually quite a bit you can do to still reduce your personal waste and hopefully inspire the rest of your family members.

Let’s focus on what we can control and not on what we can’t.

It’s too easy to get stuck on the things we can’t do. I, too, do it on almost a daily basis and get stuck on my obstacles and my “cannots”. I quickly compare my lifestyle and what I’m accomplishing or NOT accomplishing to others’ seemingly perfect zero waste lives. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Let’s stop. Let’s regroup. Let’s talk through the things we can do while living at home.

How to Go Zero Waste While Living At Home

For this scenario, let’s assume you are a high school aged student. Most of you who ask me this question fall in this category so you all will be my example.


  • Ok, so no, you don’t buy the groceries but do you have any input? Are you asked what you’d like for your lunches to take to school or do your parents ask you what sounds good for dinner through out the week? Use this opportunity request foods that come in less packaging like more plant based meals. This will reduce many areas including packaging waste and resources.


  • Also, if you take your lunch to school, grab the reusables around the house like a reusable container for your sandwich rather than a zipper baggie. If you usually get plastic utensils put into your lunch box, grab some real ones from the kitchen drawer.




  • When you go out with your family, bring a reusable container for leftovers from the restaurant and refuse that straw.

Think about the waste you can refuse on your own.


Zero Waste Toiletries

Again, you probably don’t have the power to buy the toiletries for the family and convincing mom and dad to start using a bidet may be difficult. (You should at least bring up the idea – you never know!) So what can we control here?

  • Do you buy any products for yourself? If you do, look to buy more sustainable brands like bamboo toothbrushes and shampoo bars. If you are buying your own things, you have the ability to make swaps on your own. Check out my post 10 Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps for more ideas around that.


  • You also have the ability to take fewer showers for shorter periods of time. Water waste counts, too!


  • Let your hair air dry if you can – reduce that hair dryer electricity.


  • I’m sure at this point you do have input on the clothing you get and I’m sure a lot of you even purchase your own. Suggest to your parents that you’d prefer shopping second hand instead of getting new clothing. I don’t think you’ll have much push back on this idea. We are constantly pushed to be fashionable and to be wearing the latest trends. That pressure is even greater when you are young. Fight it. Be your own person and have your own style. You don’t have to look like everyone else to fit in. That’s just boring. Shopping second hand reduces considerable resources as well as takes new clothing out of the waste stream. It’s such a huge win.


  • Wear your clothing longer before putting into the wash. You don’t need to wash your jeans every time you wear them – that’s extremely wasteful and hard on your clothing.


  • If you have the ability to, line dry your clothing. That will save quite a bit of gas or electrical resources.


Outside the House

It’s the decisions we make and what we purchase outside of the home that ultimately causes trash. So my best tip to reducing waste is:

  • Buy less – seriously, if you are prone to buying a lot and succumbing to impulse purchases this is a good area to work on. Each year, American teens collaboratively spend a whopping $259 billion. That’s insane. The latest cell phone, the hottest trendy outfits, and more are causing a lot more harm than we truly realize. Really assess whether you need something before you buy it. If you can get this habit started now, your adult self will high five you.


  • Refuse things you don’t need. Straws, paper napkins, freebies, etc. This will save additional unnecessary waste.


  • Drive less if you can. Ride the bus, your bike, or walk more.

Get Outside

Opt Outside

  • And honestly, just put the phone down for a minute. Go outside. Go to the park. Grab your friends and go on a hike or a quick trash pick up. Disconnect from technology and connect with nature. This will give you so much more motivation to keep being that Eco Warrior you always knew you were.

Again, let’s focus on what we can control. Every day we should assess what we are doing and think if there is a better way to do it. We can do quite a bit more than we realize despite living at home. Who knows, maybe we’ll even convince our families to jump on the sustainability bandwagon?


Do you live at home? What do you do to reduce your waste?


11 thoughts on “How to Go Zero Waste While Living At Home

  1. this is extremely helpful to me, as it presents exactly my case! i am also proud to admit that your tips have helped me tick, over the course of a year, some of the boxes you have suggested in this post. me and my family have been vegetarians way before that so i guess that is an advantage. i really appreciate your work and i am going to present a study (on how to live with less waste) in a competition and your blog and instagram pages are definitely going to be the top of my bibliography list. thank you for this amazing advice!

    • You make my heart full! Iā€™m so happy that you have been able to accomplish some of your eco goals! You rock! Let me know if you need any more information for your competition. Iā€™d be happy to help!!

  2. In the UK you can get veggies delivered in a box, free from single-use plastic, might be something to suggest to the family, it saves time and the planet!

  3. I hope the average teenage person doesn’t spend billions per year. Maybe teenages as a group spend 259 billion?

    Great article!

  4. Great post ā€“ this would have been so helpful to me when I started my journey towards zero waste in May! Now, I am about to graduate college and get my own apartment (YAY!) which makes the process a lot easier. These are excellent tips ā€“ glad I found your blog!
    -Jenna ā™„
    Stay in touch? The Chic Cupcake

  5. This is such a helpful post – whether you are living at home or not! It goes to show that in most circumstances, there are small changes we can make to positively impact the planet! Thanks for sharing!

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