45 Zero Waste Ideas To Help Reduce Our Carbon FootprintBy Alisa S
These difficult times in which we’re living continue to bring about a lot of suffering worldwide. At the same time, troops of individuals are awakening to the cry of our planet and realizing that if we want to keep our planet alive and thriving, we must change our habits and treat mother earth with respect. Whichever religion or background culture we come from, we may have different beliefs and traditions. However, we all humans have one true faith in common, or at least we should have, is love towards our home, planet earth, and treating her with respect. Or, this is better said by Mother Gaia, for she is the one that gives us our life and resources. She is our home. Nowadays, there is more emphasis on teaching our kids that throwing garbage on the street rather than the trash can is like throwing it on your mother’s head. In this article, we have compiled 45 ideas to help control out waste, and in turn, making mother earth much happier.
Zero waste nature confetti
Why buy ready-made colorful confetti when you can quickly and easily make them yourself? It’s a waste of money, and it creates unnecessary excessive waste in our ecosystem. This next hack will help bring your party decorations to the next level and will definitely spark conversation.
Instead of wasting your money and creating excessive waste, choose this much more eco-friendly and creative gorgeous confetti. All you have to do is go outside and gather leaves and petals you find lying around. Grab a decorative hole puncher and get punching!
Nail polish fabric deco
Have you ever been in a situation when you were out of make-up remover pads to remove your nail polish? Well, either way, next time you want to remove your nail polish, try doing it with an old piece of clothing, preferably a lighter color.
But, instead of ripping that old piece of clothing into pieces, use the whole piece for a while until you get a cool and colorful design. After removing nail polish with it a few times, you’ll be left with a unique piece of clothing that looks like this tee in the picture.
Shampoo and conditioner made into soap
Grab those almost empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner or any other liquid soap you have sitting in your shower and gather some molding shapes. If you don’t have any, your ice-cube freezer tray will do. Mix them all, pour the mixture into the molds, and place them in the freezer.
After 24 hours, you’ll have your very own DIY, homemade soap. If you want to make more, go out and collect those half-empty bottles from your friends and family and make soap for everyone. This is a perfect hack if you want free soap and less waste for the planet.
Portable lunch utensils
Next time you’re about to buy plastic utensils for lunch at work, or a store offers you, say no thank you. A small fabric-made pencil case (if you’re nifty, make it yourself) and your home cutlery are just as handy, yet much more eco-friendly.
There is no hassle when you carry your lunch utensils like this. You can easily wash them with some soap and warm water, and they’re not heavy. They won’t take up a lot of space in your bag either. Ditch the plastic because it’s the least you can do to help the planet.
Plastic bag packaging – repurposed
Don’t throw away the plastic bag carriers and packaging from the store. Whether you avoid using them or not, sometimes, it’s still inevitable. However, there are numerous ways you can actually repurpose them to make them into something useful.
Instead of buying freezer bags and trash bags, use the ones you received when you ordered something online or bought something fragile. You can also use them for collecting pet litter instead of plastic gloves. You can even get creative and make some pom-poms for kids out of them!
Old candle wax
Instead of throwing away used-up and burned-out candles, collect the candle wax in a larger pot. Once you’ve collected a larger amount, you can make your own candles and re-use all that wax you saved. Who said candles had to be perfect?
If you want to get even more creative, heat the wax in a pot on a cooking stove or in a microwave. Make sure not to overheat it- just enough so it’s soft to mold with your hands. However, if you have shape molds, you can melt them completely and pour them into molds.
Zero waste dried celery
Instead of throwing away the grubby, ugly-looking pieces of your freshly bought celery, put it aside and let it dry. Once it’s dried, crush it into pieces or a fine powder. You can use a mortar and pestle like the one below.
Even easier, use an electric smoothie mixer to make it into powder. This picture displays what were are trying to convey with celery, but you can actually do this with any herbs and many veggies, too. Why waste money on ready-made spices when you can make your own?
Old benches made new
This school caretaker didn’t like the idea of throwing away the old and battered school benches. Which, as it seems from looking at the picture on the left, were practically destroyed, to say the least. This guy decided to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
With some hardcore sanding, wood paint and finish, metal color, and a lot of effort, this guy used the school summer holidays to refurbish many old school benches and turn them into brand new ones. He honestly did a spectacular job.
Dumpster book library
The garbage workers of Turkey didn’t like seeing the huge amount of books people were throwing out on a daily basis, so these awesome guys took the initiative to create an underground library of salvaged books in their spare time when they were off- duty. Kudos to these guys for their effort!
Here’s an idea: Why not try opening a local book library of books that have been thrown out in your area? If that seems too far-fetched for you, there are plenty of other creative things you can do with old books, such as donating them to your local shelter or goodwill or getting them recycled.
Gift wrapping with old notes
Have you ever thought about gift wrapping with your old study notes? As you can see in the photo below, it has the potential to actually look pretty artsy and stylish, so why not go ahead and try it yourself the next time you have some gifts to wrap?
Sure, it looks impressive if you write your notes with colorful pens or pencils or even with highlighters. But we’re pretty sure it would look just as nice with just one color pen or pencil, adding a more retro style.
Wine cap art
Now, this is something creative we’ve never discovered before. This picture is made out of aluminum wine lids. Who would have thought? We’d never have guessed it ourselves, to be honest. Although, it probably does take some artistic skill and a bit of effort.
You can make art such as this one, especially mosaic art with any other waste material. You can use pieces of broken plastic, broken glass, colored cardboard boxes, or anything else you can think of. Zero waste art only takes a bit of creativity and imagination.
Old fabric patchwork
Don’t you just love the classic art of patchwork? You can be that we do! Especially if you’re using up the fabric from your old pieces of clothing and other old fabrics you can get your hands on. This is an amazing opportunity to create something unique.
Patchwork is similar to a mosaic and to the art we discussed in the image before this one, if you think about it. But, apart from looking nice, it’s also functional. It all depends on what you make, whether that’s a blanket or a simple pillowcase.
Banana leaf packaging
This market promoted an awesome zero waste solution to packaging. They saw the potential in left-over banana leaves, which are actually pretty durable and easy to use, and decided to use them for packaging other veggies. It also looks really nice.
The idea of using banana leaves for packaging is pretty inspiring. It brings up other ideas too. Which other leaves do you think could be used in a similar way? You could do wonders with palm leaves, for example! This should definitely be the future of packaging.
Broken gingerbread man cake deco
This baker decided not to throw away the broken gingerbread man biscuits leftover from Christmas. Instead, they used them for decorating a cake. They look nice and yummy, too. We’d love to munch on that cake if you ask us.
The next time you decide to make a cake, think about the sweet leftovers you have in your kitchen in which you can use to decorate it instead of buying new decorations. Even if the idea doesn’t sound good at first, you never know until you try!
Why waste money on buying cake pans when you can rent one? This is a good idea for those who love using different shapes to make cakes or pancakes, as a matter of fact. Or for those who just love to experiment! You can save money and space in your kitchen.
This awesome store opened its very own pan library for baking. Here, you can rent a pan for much cheaper than what you’d pay if you went out and bought one new. This idea creates zero waste and huge savings, too. Plus, it creates more space for creativity.
Old wool pet bed
Need a new pet bed for your fluffy friend? Why spend crazy amounts of dollars at the pet shop for a comfy dog bed when you can easily make one yourself with some old pieces of clothing, whether it’s wool or any other fabric?
We love this pic because it shows how you can turn an old woolly sweater or blanket and remake it into a stylish pet bed. Not nifty with the needles? Read on, and you’ll see other ways to make a pet bed out of old fabric.
Repurposed deco-made trampoline
This here, our dear friends, is a garden vine made up of an old trampoline structure, and we say it looks absolutely amazing and something we’ve never seen before. This is a moment of inspiration for all of us. You can reuse practically any old thing you have in your home if you have some imagination.
For example, we’ve all seen the old tires and broken crates made into beautiful flower beds. How about other things such as old window frames, old chairs, wardrobe parts, and shelves. Get creative, folks! It saves money and will impress your guests and yourself.
Restored stylish furniture
We love how this one-piece is able to be refurbished into a two-piece furniture set. If you’re not a fan of gigantic and antique statement furniture pieces, you’ll probably love this idea. Plus, as you can see, the paint they used is also eco-friendly.
So, if you have an old piece of furniture lying around that you want to transform, grab your tools, head to your local carpenter store, and buy some water-based eco-friendly color and try this yourself. We’d love to see the outcome!
Water jugs made into cat shelters
Kittys love to keep cozy, and there’s only so much they need for the perfect shelter to keep them warm. If you have a lot of stray cats and even puppies in your area, here’s a perfect solution to provide them with a roof over their heads.
This idea is also very unique. We sure would have never thought of it. So, don’t throw out your big water jugs. Instead, slice off the top, get some old blankets and pillows, and there you go—a brand new little bed for a kitty.
Hand-made wooden cooking spoons
Wooden cooking wear has existed since the beginnings of humanity and ancient living. The first-ever known cooking wear and cutlery was made of trusty wood. Why not return to our roots to be more eco-friendly and make your own utensils?
Ditch the silicone and plastic, and even metal, as a matter of fact, wherever you can, and opt for wooden cooking tools. Apart from being evergreen, they are way healthier and can actually look pretty stylish when hanging on a wall.
Cat climber made from a dead tree
You can turn every piece of wood you find lying around into something artsy or functional. It only takes just a little bit of creativity. Like we said before, look back at humankind’s roots, and you’ll see that anything can be made of wood.
In this pic, we believe this is one lucky kitting with caring and creating owners who thought to turn this old piece of wood into a beautiful cat climbing installation. The main part was only a large piece of a tree that had fallen already or broken off.
Old sweater pet bed
As we mentioned earlier, there are plenty of resources around your home that can be useful in making a new pet bed instead of being thrown away. This creative person made this pet bed out of a sweater and a t-shirt, and it looks amazing.
Here, you are given the instructions drawn on paper to make the job much easier. But, if you put your mind to it, perhaps you can come up with an even easier idea to make a pet bed out of your old clothing and design.
Tie-dyed old tee
Here’s a well-known solution to reviving that fave piece of clothing that somehow ended up stained with something that won’t come out in the washing machine. Instead of using colors to tye-dye it, you can use bleach which most people have lying around the house.
If you want to go completely eco-friendly, then opt for colors from nature, such as the natural colors from red onion or, better yet, beetroot. All you have to do is boil it all together with a dash of vinegar to make the color stronger.
Repurposed plastic deco bottle
All plastic bottles can and should be repurposed. If you ask us, this should be a part of everyone’s home practice and life habits to repurpose every plastic bottle at least two to three times before throwing them away.
But, when you have a nicely shaped or decorated plastic bottle such as this one which came from a specific honey brand, there’s no work to be done other than washing it well. You can use and re-use multiple times for a more decorative display of food or cosmetics.
Old planks for a new flower bed
Here’s another nice flower display, or better yet, a beautiful flowerbed. This one is made out of old wooden planks that were lying around. Before you decide to consider yourself unskilled with carpentry, think about its simplicity and easy structure.
It’s actually much easier to create than you think. But, it’s only a question of whether and how much of an effort you’re willing to put into making something nice that contributes to a zero-waste world for a better future.
Zero waste make-up removers
Reusable make-up remover pads are becoming a trend, as you will see further on down the list. They are eco-friendly and produce zero waste. Plus, you can make them yourself out of any fabric you may prefer and wash them when you need to.
These make-up remover pads are made from an old blanket. That’s a great idea seeing that blankets are the closest you can get to cotton or wool, making them resemble the disposable pads you’d usually buy the most. They even feel much better on the face.
Desk lamp from old camera
At first, we thought that this was a camera standing on a wooden camera pod. But, it is actually an old camera made into a lamp with the help of a bigger twig as the legs of the lamp. Very creative!
A homemade lamp is very easy to make. It’s all comes down to how much effort and creativity you’re willing to put in. All you need is the base of a lamp, a few screws, and a stable way to fit the screws into how you hold the camera.
Old fabric tweed rug
If you’re nifty and quick with your fingers, you’ll probably find this type of rug pretty easy to make. The actual process is straightforward and to the point. It’s all about braiding it all together into one piece.
If you can make a braid, you can make a rug like this yourself. Just get the old clothing you’ve prepared for throwing, cut into fine lines and start braiding. This looks amazing and stylish, and we love the outcome.
Old yarn crochet make-up pads
Here we are, as mentioned before, another kind of reusable make-up remover pad like what we mentioned before. Only these are made of leftover yarn. Again, wool resembles your ready-made cotton pads that you would usually buy from the store the most.
But, you don’t necessarily have to use wool to make your own make-up removers. You can use any fabric of your choice, like flannel from old shirts or even from old towels. The crochet sowing adds more style and durability.
Candy box becomes medicine carrier
Don’t throw away that convenient tin box from Fisher Man’s friend candies or any other little candy tin box. It’s portable and super practical for anything small you need to keep together in one place. To make it even more functional, add cardboard space dividers inside.
If you’re taking a lot of different medicines or supplements, carry them in your own custom-made tin box. Add some more persona to make it more creative, decorate on the outside, and add some colorful nail polish or colored paper.
Yes, we’ve already shown you plenty of furniture refurbishing ideas on this list. But, we had to include this one as well since, over the last decade or so, furniture restoration has become a pretty mainstream fashion trend worldwide.
Many local businesses and carpentry-skilled individuals have had great success in making money with furniture restoration. This is is obviously because it’s an eco-friendly and profitable trend that contributes to the zero-waste culture.
Bag made from fabric poster
Do you have some nylon-type or fake leather fabric lying around, perhaps? Or even better, a poster printed on fabric which is no longer needed. Well, make use of it by making a nice functional handbag out of it.
When you think about it, unless it’s completely worn out and torn up, all fabric items should be recycled and repurposed into something new. If it is, though, you can still use it for making pieces of cloth for cleaning.
One piece to three piece set
Here’s another awesome idea, especially if you’re skilled in sewing. Even if you’re not so skilled, you can still turn that old jacket you don’t plan on wearing anymore into something you will actually use instead of tossing it out.
We love the idea of this jacket being turned into a three-piece set of a hat, a backpack, and a pair of shorts. But, if the hat and shorts seem too hard to make, that backpack is way easier. Or, any other type of bag, actually.
The staring garbage bin
A garbage bin with a personality will make you think twice before you throw something away. Especially if it has huge staring eyes that rotate each time the lid is moved. This is a great way to keep raising the consciousness.
If you have kids, this is a great way to instill a sense of consciousness and environmental awareness in a cute and creative way. Teach your kids empathy and a zero-waste mindset by giving everything a personality and soul of its own.
Zero waste kids play kitchen
Why pay huge amounts of money for plastic and terribly expensive kids’ toy kitchens when you can make them yourself from items around the house? We love this one because it’s a stylish kitchen set made of recycled items and fabric.
Although a fabric-made kitchen set is great because it can be washed, you can also opt for other materials such as old pieces of wood, planks, and some flashy colors. Your kids will love it way more than the ready-made plastic one.
Zero waste multi-store
As we develop a zero-waste culture within our societies, its whole idea is becoming more trendy, and new ideas of profitable businesses are born that help reduce our carbon footprint. This zero-waste local shop, for example, sells all things recycled.
If we all do our tiny part in building a more tolerant, zero-waste culture, we become a steady pillar for big changes in our world that will bring forth a much brighter future for mother earth, our children, and all future generations.
Ballon foil wrapping
Helium balloons are an adored attraction for kids worldwide. They are actually made from a special type of foil that takes a long time to break down (aside from the helium wearing off), thus deflating the balloon into its original form.
When deflated, you can turn these balloons into decorative stickers, decorative paper, and even better, gift wrapping paper like the one pictured above, which looks really good as it’s a birthday present, and the balloon just happens to say happy birthday.
DIY soap holder
Here’s a cute, simple, easy-to-make, and eco-friendly idea for your soap holder. It’s made out of small wooden twigs and a bit of thread. This looks stylish in terms of retro and minimalistic design. And it’s easier to make than it looks.
But, we love this picture because the whole idea is so simple yet inspiring at the same time. You can use this method to make cup coasters, dinner mats, table decor, and even more ideas if you let your imagination wander.
Smart water re-use
Okay, so this is not an easy DIY project. But, it’s an awesome zero-waste idea for toilet and bathroom manufacturers and for all of us who practice proper hygiene, as a matter of fact. If you ask us, there should be a zero-waste law that makes these a must.
Apart from being eco-friendly and zero waste, this idea of using and reusing water looks great and practical in any bathroom. It’s practical in reusing and filtering clean water to wash your hands in the end.
Creative solution for missing wrapping paper
What a creative way to make up for the missing bit of wrapping paper on a present. And, it’s pretty humorous, too. If the receiver of the gift complains, then explain the thought behind it and promote zero waste at the same time.
It’s funny how you see these types of similar ideas, scratch your head, and think, “why didn’t I ever think of this?” We sure as heck ask ourselves, especially when coming up with this list, why it’s sometimes so hard to come up with such an obvious solution.
Decorative hole patching with embroidery
Don’t just sew up holes in your clothing to try and make it blend in with the fabric. That’s way too boring, and it doesn’t look nice. Well, here’s another simple yet cute and pretty idea. A few embroidery threads, and voila, you have a lovely little flower instead.
This is especially great for ladies and girls who love color and flowers. But, in other cases, you can find a simple fabric, shape, or picture from another piece of old clothing and sew it on, and there you go—another piece of repurposed clothing.
Building made of dirt and recycled materials
We love how these folks came up with the idea to make a school building out of dirt and recycled materials. It’s funny how people often complain about not having the resources or materials to make their own structure when we have nature.
Nature gives us everything we need to make a structurally sound home. Once again, you can see this idea by tracing back to our roots when homes were made from recycled resources from nature before we became lazy and overly accommodated.
Retro Dr Martens
What if you’re out of cash, but your favorite pair of boots got left behind on your recent camping trip? If by any chance you might have an old pair of Dr. Martens lying around somewhere because they just might save the day. If not, any pair of old retro leather shoes or boots will actually do for this next hack.
You can either use your rent money and go get a new pair of boots, or you can head off to your local shoemaker with your old, discarded pair and let them do the work for you. Or, you can take up the task of fixing them yourself with a few online tutorials, and a bit of effort.
Tin can lids for picture hanging
Did you run out of hooks for hanging your pictures on your walls? Here’s a great solution: tin can lids. They help hold the picture in place and serve as a hook to hang the picture on your wall. This is another simple zero-waste trick.
The next time you’re about to throw away those can lids, reconsider. But, do take great care because they are very sharp and may cause severe cuts if they are not handled carefully. Still, this trick would come in handy any day.
Zero waste candles
We decided to end our list with this zero-waste candle idea. Besides the obviously recycled candles and colored glasses that look great when burning in dim lighting, we thought we’d give you a few laughs with the sign below them.
Now, we’re not sure if the misspelling was purposeful or not, but it sure does attract attention and brings in some humor to our small efforts of spreading and promoting the zero-waste culture for a better world for us all. “Engoy!”