You know that all the people and all the creatures in all the lands will be better off if we live with less waste and trash.
You want to stop exposing you and your family to plastics, and do your bit to live lightly.
You try to say no to receipts, and to bring your bags to the grocery, and to avoid disposable water bottles.
But it doesn’t feel like enough.
You’ve felt the small agony that comes from throwing plastic in the trash, knowing it will sit leaching somewhere until long after your children’s children are old.
How can you live in modern society and have a sustainable, waste-free lifestyle that’s good for you and for the rest of the world?
You know you want to do better, and you want to do it without spending all your time and money.
How can you go zero waste in the real world?
In the real world, people have kids, and busy schedules, and budgets. You may travel, or have a wedding, or live in a teensy town without a bulk store. Your family may not get it.
What you need is some help from those who came before.
Each of the 32 zero waste experts on this list has answers to hard situations, inspiring views on sustainability or new ways to look at old problems. Not all of them call themselves zero-waste but they all have something helpful to support you.
Some of the people on this list have gone so low their family’s annual waste fits in a little trash jar, and they no longer pay for trash service. All of them teach that you don’t have to be perfect; every step along the path counts.
These experts will show you how to DIY toxins and trash out of your life and how to live large for less.
Some are masters at making zero waste living inspiring and beautiful. Some are educators who break it all down in doable, easy steps. Some are makers, and some are movers building zero waste communities in real life.
Explore the list of experts for tons of ideas on what to do next, and then take that next small step to a more beautiful life.
The Zero Waste Experts
Kathryn Kellogg: She’ll get you going
A health scare and chronic pain sent Kathryn Kellogg down her zero waste path. She rid her life of plastic and toxic chemicals. Then Kathryn realized that what’s bad for her is also bad for the ocean and planet. Now she runs Going Zero Waste, one of the most popular zero waste websites around. Her site is chock-full of good ideas to help you get started. Check out her posts on “What is Zero Waste” and what to do if your partner isn’t into it.
Meredith Bay Tyack: Zero waste baby and kids
Think you can’t have kids and be zero waste? Meredith is a Vermont blogger and a “total goofball” treading a simpler, less stressful path. Meredith and her family committed to a zero waste lifestyle in 2016. She loves food and follows a whole paleo-ish diet, with excursions into hard ciders and cheese. See her posts on making a kids’ capsule wardrobe, zero waste travel with baby or kids, and plastic free, zero waste baby bottles for more inspiration.
Addie Fisher: Zero waste wardrobe thrifted style queen
Learn how to build a sustainable zero waste wardrobe with Addie Fisher’s take on thrifted style and her thrifted photo shoots. On her blog Old World New, her focus on community comes through in her Thrift It! Clique group in Dallas and her posts on the importance of representation in the sustainable living movement. Addie started in architecture, moved to interior design, and now writes about sustainable living in real life. Read her post on the baby steps she took to move from minimalism fear to acceptance.
Bea Johnson: The Original
Bea Johnson’s blog Zero Waste Home is where it all began. She was called “the mother of the zero waste lifestyle movement” by CNN and she is why the zero waste trash jar is a thing. She gives lots of talks everywhere, in English, French and Spanish. Her bulk store finder app is useful, with the ability to filter by category. Her book, “The Zero Waste Home” is considered the original bible of zero-waste.
Jessie Stokes: Everything for a vegan zero-waste home
If you’re interested in a vegan zero-waste lifestyle, Jessie Stokes is your go-to. Her blog Tiny Yellow Bungalow evolved from an experiment in sustainable living to an online shop carrying vegan, zero-waste home and personal products. Her posts about mom/baby zero waste will help anyone who is wondering how to do the baby thing in a way that reflects your values.
Erin Rhoads: Plan a zero waste wedding
Could you have a wedding and make only a handful of trash? Erin Rhoades can. Get inspiration from her creative zero waste and plastic free wedding at the Rogue Ginger, and then read about plastic is sneaking in through packaging that you wouldn’t expect to have plastic. Erin thinks deeply about all things zero waste, so follow her to benefit from what she’s learned.
Laura Durenberger: Get rid of anxiety
Eco-anxiety got you down? Laura Durenberger from Reduce, Reuse, Renew (formerly the Mindful Mom Blographer) is all about paying attention to your mind while you pay attention to the environment. She has all the tips and tricks you would want, and she writes eloquently on self-care and the emotional benefits of a minimalist, zero-waste lifestyle. Her beautiful nature photography is sprinkled throughout her blog, representing one of the ways she takes care of herself even in the midst of it all.
Lauren Singer: Make it all look beautiful
Lauren Singer at cleverly named Trash is for Tossers makes zero waste look really good. For those who fear the zero waste lifestyle will squash their style, her posts on zero waste wardrobe, hair and beauty will tell you how to do it without giving up your glow. She can bring the style into your whole house too. If that isn’t enough, she opened the Package Free Shop, her own brick and mortar and oniine zero-waste store in New York City.
Callee Ackland: Zero waste wanderer
Callee Ackland travels in a campervan leading zero waste workshops. She interviews lots of sustainable living experts at the Hippie Haven Podcast. Her blog has lots of tips and resources for going zero waste, including a discussion of how many thousands of dollars you can save. Her articles on starting a zero waste business will inspire the entrepreneur in you.
Anne Marie Bonneau: the Zero Waste Chef
Anne Marie Bonneau focuses on zero waste in the kitchen. She insists that you don’t need to buy things to go zero waste; using your creativity instead will take you far. Anne Marie hosts produce bag sewing meetups to make bags out of donated fabric and runs workshops on fermented foods. She doesn’t shy away from the issues of the day and recognizes that zero waste exists within a larger environmental and social imperative. To get started, take her 14- day zero food waste challenge and review her 50 tips for going waste free.
Polly Barks: Community organizer who breaks it all down for you
Polly Barks is a zero waste educator in Indiana, helping people understand zero waste beyond plastic bags. She makes zero waste living doable by breaking life up into 12 zones and working on one area at a time. I like her candid takes on popular zero waste books. Sign up for her mailing list to get a step by step guide and trash audit worksheet so you know where to start.
Merissa Alink: Live large (and lightly) on less
Merissa Alink is a simple living blogger. Little House Living will help you waste less through DIY and creativity. I tried to count the DIY projects on her master directory and lost count. Living on practically nothing has allowed Merissa and her husband to adopt three children and change their careers to full-time rural ministry.
Frankie Jacklin: Zero waste with grandkids
Frankie Jacklin write about zero waste in the middle of family life with grandkids, blending “old fashioned values with new technology for today’s modern life”. She is a passionate zero waste ambassador atThoroughly Modern Grandma and runs a zero waste store. Her “getting started” series is useful as she goes into the 5 R’s of zero waste and answers questions like “Is zero waste and plastic-free the same thing?”. Her posts handle swaps for items I haven’t seen elsewhere, like what to use instead of wet wipes.
Megean Weldon: Build a movement where you live
Megean Weldon is the Zero Waste Nerd blogger who is building a local movement. This Kansas City-based expert runs a local zero waste Facebook group and organizes zero waste meetups. Her journey began after she was shocked by her neighbors’ trash, then realized her family was just the same. You can connect with her 30 day beginner course on her beautiful Instagram account. Everyone can make the journey just a bit easier with her bulk locations finder, especially useful if you’re going to be traveling.
Sarah UmmYusuf: DIY the toxins out of your home
Sarah UmmYusuf is a non-toxic advocate for better personal and home care products. You can use her recipes and guides at Nature’s Nurture to detox your home. The photographic proof of how your homemade laundry soap may actually be making your clothes dirty is amazing. For homemade products that work, see her posts on DIY non-toxic household cleaners.
Jenica Barrett: How low can you go?
Jenica started keeping a photo diary of her monthly trash in 2015 at Zero Waste Wisdom. Today, her monthly audits are sprinkled through the rest of the blog. It’s inspiring to see how she was able to reduce her trash until the photo is practically pretty. Jenica leads workshops in Portland on topics like low waste DIY body care and DIY beeswax wraps. Now that Jenica’s trash is down to a stable few ounces a month she is reducing her invisible waste, the things you don’t see in a trash can. Follow her to get some great DIY tips, find out about Portland zero waste, and be inspired by how low you can go.
Beth Terry: Plastic-free activist and author
Beth’s life was transformed by a single photo in 2007. A photo of a seabird skeleton filled with plastic galvanized her into action. In addition to her full time job, Beth became a plastic-free activist, speaker and author. My Plastic Free Life is full of helpful ideas and tips on how to kick plastic out of your life. Her free guide answers lots of thorny plastic-free dilemmas, including how to shop for meat, chew gum or find plastic-free sunscreen.
Amy French–The good green and frugal life
Amy French made up a word “grugal” which means green + frugal. The Adelaide, Australia blogger is a zero waste ambassador and leader of a 10 week zero waste challenge at The Good Life with Amy French. Amy cares deeply about zero waste, evident in her post on how to repair and revamp your shoes at home and how to make your lunch break eco-friendly.
Jenna Bergendahl, Meredith Hanson, and Kate Marnach: You don’t have to be perfect
Zeroish is written by three Minnesota moms who live in the city, the suburbs and the country. The “-ish” part is because you don’t have to be perfect. Instead it’s about finding out what’s possible. You can find the “Busy Parent’s Guide to Going Zero Waste” on their site, guides to zero waste in the twin cities, and reassurance that perfect is not a real thing.
Chloe Lepeltier: The fashionable organizer
Chloe Lepeltier is a zero waste blogger and freelance sustainability consultant from France, who has been traveling since
she was a 17 year old student. She currently lives in a tiny house in Portland, where she writes on zero waste, slow living and ethical fashion at Conscious by Chloe. She co-organizes a zero waste conference in Portland and has a whole zero waste website devoted to zero waste in Portland, Zero Waste PDX.
Amber Allen: “Stay magical” vegan zero waste mama
Amber is the Fairly Local Vegan, an Ontario mother of three who has been documenting her vegan and low waste family life on YouTube for two years. She is all about sustainability and family. Amber’s video on when your family isn’t into zero waste describes a healthy way to handle that situation. Follow her for more real world tips on urban gardening, living with celiac disease, zero waste family life, and vegan parenting.
Larissa Tedesco: Vegetarian zero waste chef and consultant
Larissa is a plant-based, zero waste, minimalist blogger at Eat Yourself Green. Six years ago she was shocked by the documentary Food INC and committed to being a vegetarian the next day. She offers private, individualized plant-based basics, pantry organization and zero waste classes. The post “But what the heck is zero waste anyway?” helps you understand what it’s all about. Check out the master list of her plant-based recipes for all the ideas you need.
Tammy Logan: Zero waste in the country
Do you live in a place that doesn’t have a bulk store down the street? Tammy of Gippsland Unwrapped can help. Tammy lives in rural Australia with her husband and two children. She did the Plastic Free July challenge in 2015 and never stopped. I appreciated her family guide to a plastic free, zero waste family home.
Natalie Kay: Wear a beautiful and ethical wardrobe
Natalie Kay writes about sustainable fashion, green beauty and eco-living at Sustainably Chic. She has a background in fashion and now she helps people find the brands that are changing the industry. This is your destination if you are looking for sustainable fashion that is vegan, climate-neutral, ethical, zero-waste and beautiful, or, if you want to learn what the sustainable fashion industry is and could be. Since most of us have synthetic fabrics in our wardrobe, her post on avoiding microplastics from your laundry is timely.
Cat Agopcan: Sustainable living and finance
Do you care about your money as well as the planet? The Do Something Project is a great resource if you want to find monthly projects to try, resources on happiness, minimalism and simple living, and if you want to explore the link between zero waste living and financial independence. Check out her sister site (literally), Sisters for FI, a site Cat runs with her real life sister.
Danielle Chassin: Creating a beautifully slow family life
Danielle writes Hippie in Disguise to express the creative side she doesn’t get to show in her government job. See her “Interview with a Minimalist” series to learn about other noteworthy people and view her photography at her online shop. Her commitments to slow family life and aesthetics led her to co-organize the Slow Living Project, a chance for people to share their slow living moments through photography.
Rob Greenfield: Dude making a difference for the world
Rob Greenfield does a lot of crazy things. He is an author, adventurer, activist and “dude making a difference.” He takes on projects, including “Trash Me”. To show how much waste people make, Rob spent 30 days living living a standard life in New York City, wearing all the trash he made like a giant trash suit. Today, Rob is eating only what he himself has grown, foraged, fished or hunted for a whole year, all while living in a 100 square foot tiny house made of repurposed materials and no land of his own. Rob donates 100% of the profits he makes on his media channel.
Katy Wolk-Stanley: Buy Nothing New
Katy Wolk-Stanley is a master of not buying things. In 2007 she adopted “The Compact”, an agreement to stop buying things new (with some exceptions), and never stopped. On The Non-Consumer Advocate she will show you how to live on less and wring every last bit of goodness out of the things you have. She promotes a few different challenges, including a challenge to eat on the same amount of money as food stamp recipients and donate the difference. If you would like to decorate for less, Katy shows you how to refurbish thrifted items, which she sells on Ebay.
Lindsay Miles : Kick your Can to the Curb
After Lindsay Miles went plastic-free she went zero waste and eventually just got rid of her trash can. At Treading My Own Path she has great posts on compostables, including how to use worm bins and bokashi bins and even how to compost pet waste. Her “Day in the Life” post is full of great zero waste ideas for your whole routine.
Rachelle Strauss: Zero waste week founder
To finish out the list strong, if you’ve ever participated in Zero Waste Week, you have Rachelle Strauss to thank for it. Under her pen name Mrs. Green, Rachelle blogs about her family’s lifestyle at My Zero Waste. Follow her to benefit from her deep thinking on what to do with things and where they ultimately go. Her posts consider an issue from all the angles, which sometimes leads her to surprising and well-supported conclusions (wine in Tetra Paks? Rent a dumpster?).
Now is the time to take those first steps
Zero waste is more important than ever. Lots of people would like to at least start living more efficiently, for their own sake and for that of their family and the environment.
At the same time, a lot of people don’t know how to approach zero waste, because it seems too complicated, or think it will cost more or take a ton of time. Inaction means you will continue to feel badly about throwing things away and will continue to have plastic materials in and on your body and home.
As these 32 experts demonstrate, it’s completely doable to:
- Ditch toxins and plastic in your life
- Have a stylish, beautiful home with less waste
- Even get rid of your trash bill
Now is the time to join those who feel good about their daily choices, knowing that they are safeguarding themselves and their families. Today is the day to start for a healthier and more beautiful tomorrow.
These experts have thought deeply about the details in every aspect of life. Learn from them to take those first steps.
So, what will you do next?