The First Step to Transitioning to a Low Waste Lifestyle — Sustainably Yours

So you’re interested in transitioning to a zero waste or low waste lifestyle but don’t know where to start? Well here is the number 1 thing you MUST do to start your journey.

Doing this one thing will jump start your journey and help drastically reduce your waste right away.

So what is this magical first step?

It’s a trash audit.

A zero waste lifestyle is pretty self-explanatory. Your aim is to stop producing waste. Instead, you want to use reusable products so that you are not throwing anything out.

Going zero waste takes commitment and time and it doesn’t happen overnight.

I’m going to repeat that: it doesn’t happen overnight.

If you are truly committed to this lifestyle, you will prevent thousands of disposable products from being thrown out.

If you feel like a zero waste lifestyle is too intense for you, try a low waste lifestyle instead.

A low waste lifestyle is like a zero waste lifestyle except that you do produce some waste. For a lot of us, it’s nearly impossible to avoid waste when we leave the home. Or when you need to buy something last minute.

A zero waste lifestyle might seem too restricting and difficult of a lifestyle change. That’s why low waste lifestyle is the sweet spot.

Regardless of which of these lifestyle you live, you’re still making a huge impact on the environment. Your efforts will help keep our planet clean AND hold companies accountable.

The number one tip that’ll jump start your zero waste or low waste lifestyle is for you to do a trash audit.

A trash audit is when you go through all your trash and see exactly what you throw out. When you know exactly what you throw out, you’ll know where to start to make a drastic impact in reducing your trash.

When transitioning into a zero waste lifestyle or low waste lifestyle, you’re first goal is to reduce how much waste you produce. The best way to do this is by reducing the waste you produce the most.

If you only make changes for items that you rarely throw out, you won’t be making as big of an impact. But, if you make changes for items you always throw out, you’ll be making a huge impact.

Steps to conduct a trash audit:

  1. Decide a length of time. One week worth of trash is a good place to start. That’s when you’ll accumulate a lot of your trash. Plus, you’ll get a good view of what type of trash you throw out throughout the week.
  2. Take notes. Grab a pen and paper or use your notes app. What type of stuff is taking up the most space in your trash bin? What stuff was a one time purchase that was thrown out? For one time purchases you can try to do research to get a zero waste alternative next time. For the items you throw out regularly, look for alternatives for them right away. This way, you can start reducing that waste immediately.
  3. Don’t get overwhelmed. It might seem like you have a lot of trash and you might feel like you will never be able to reduce your trash. That is not the case. Going zero or low waste is a transition that takes time.
  4. Set goals. Write down what type of items you want to stop using and how you’re going to replace them. Set goals for when you want to buy the alternative by.
  5. Do another trash audit a couple weeks or months later. Check to see if you have reduced your trash. If you’re still throwing out the same amount of items, what can you do differently to reduce that trash? If you did reduce your trash, congratulate yourself! You’ve taken a big step towards a greener future.

So you’ve gone through all your trash and you know what items you throw out regularly. What’s the next step?

You want to replace the trash with reusable alternatives.

Examples of changes you can make:

  1. If you find dozens of coffee cups, make coffee at home or bring a reusable coffee mug to the store. (Some stores will even give you a discount for bringing one)
  2. Replace plastic water bottles to a reusable water bottle.
  3. If you find lots of food, start throwing it in the compost and commit to reducing your food wastage. Some tips to do that can be found here.
  4. Replace makeup wipes, to reusable makeup wipes or wash your face with a makeup removing balm.
  5. If you see plastic straws, replace it with metal straws.
  6. If you see plastic wrappings for snacks, switch to brands that offer recyclable packaging

If you’re interested in learning more ways that you can help the environment, sign up for my email list. You’ll get a FREE guide to starting a sustainable living lifestyle. The guide also has a worksheet to help you conduct a trash audit.

(This post contains affiliate links which means that I earn a commission if you make a purchase through my link at no cost to you.)

Originally published at on November 16, 2020.

I have a passion for living a sustainable lifestyle to help heal our planet. Read my posts on living an eco-friendly lifestyle at

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