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7 Easy Steps to Start Your Zero-Waste Vegan Lifestyle

Olivia Olivia 16 Apr 2023 7 Easy Steps to Start Your Zero-Waste Vegan Lifestyle

With Earth Day on April 22nd quickly approaching, there’s never been a better time to take a long, hard look at the sustainability of your habits. As daunting topics like climate change frequent our screens, it’s become clear that everyone should be mindful of the lives they lead, and their impact on our precious environment. 

But completely re-jigging the ways you shop, cook, commute, socialize, and adventure can seem overwhelming, which is why I’ve come up with seven easy steps that can make the transition feel easy as pie. 

What is a zero-waste vegan lifestyle

You’ve likely heard of veganism and zero-waste when used separately, but the two terms merged together might be new to you. So, let’s break it down. 

First up: zero-waste living

Zero-waste, otherwise known as “minimal waste”, “no waste”, or “low waste”, means that you strive to follow a waste-free lifestyle. This starts by simply buying no more than you need. That's easy enough now, isn't it? It could also encompass anything from avoiding food waste and composting kitchen scraps, using reusable containers instead of single-use plastics at the store, using low-waste lifestyle essentials (from erasable stonepaper notepads to plastic-free cleaning tabs to mix with water at home, coconut fiber scouring pads or even microfiber filters for your washing machine), bringing your own bags when you go shopping, recycling as much as you humanly can, and more.

It’s important to remember that attaining a 100% zero-waste lifestyle in modern households is nearly impossible, so set the goal at becoming 50 to 90% zero-waste. 

And veganism?

Now, being vegan means that you avoid consuming or using any product that is derived from an animal or was tested on animals. And wearing cruelty-free fashion too. There are many reasons why one could go vegan, including sustainability, dietary reasons, simply because they love animals or out of ethics: because they respect animal rights. 

A zero-waste vegan is a term that encompasses both of these, and when it’s done correctly, it can result in a smaller footprint and lesser negative impact on the planet.

Why should people strive to be waste-free vegans?

Goodness — where to begin? While most people decide to go zero-waste vegan for environmental reasons, it will also help save animals from being turned into dinner or a pair of shoes. And – of course depending on the choices you make (fast food vegans and donut lovers like ourselves, we see you 🍕🫶) – it may even improve your overall health. If you’re often feeling concerned about global warming and environmental justice issues, going zero-waste vegan is a great way to ease your worries as you can rest assured knowing that you’re doing your part. 

The article continues below this Insta post.

How do we get closer to this type of lifestyle?

Firstly, starting with some research is always a good idea. This way, you can learn more about the positive impact you’ll be making on the environment, and maybe even some ways you can motivate those around you to do the same. Have you ever heard about Earth Overshoot Day for instance? Or what truly is sustainable fashion and how to rock a planet-proof wardrobe? Finding out more about your own footprint is an excellent start to a more sustainable lifestyle.

The following seven steps will also help you embark on your zero-waste vegan journey with confidence.

Seven steps that will help you move toward a zero-waste vegan lifestyle:

1. Get comfortable with meal planning

By planning and preparing your vegan meals ahead of time, you won’t feel the need to swing by a fast food joint on your way home from work or on your lunch break. The act of meal prepping can also help you cut down on food scraps as you can choose meals that use some of the same ingredients, ensuring you use every last bit of what you just purchased at the grocery store. Before going shopping, make a list and try your best to stick with it as this will keep you on budget and keep you from adding a bunch of unnecessary items to your grocery cart. To further reduce your ecological footprint, try to pick items that are considered in season and are produced locally.

2. Restock your bathroom cabinet with biodegradable beauty products and clean makeup

While this step can seem like a bit of an investment, it’s definitely worth it. Over time, work to replace your beauty and hygiene products with vegan, cruelty-free versions. A lot of people are blissfully unaware that plenty of cosmetic companies test their products on animals, or even use animal byproducts in their formulas. Also, a lot of personal hygiene items and cosmetics are stored in plastic containers that aren’t biodegradable, so that’s something to keep an eye out for as well. Prioritize vegan, clean makeup over the majority of the stuff you’d find at your local drugstore. 

3. Say “goodbye” to paper towels and napkins

And say “hello” to cloth towels and napkins as this will drastically cut down on the amount of waste that comes from your household. This step will also save you money in the long run, as cloth towels and napkins last a lot longer than single-use variations. As for toilet paper, there are rolls made out of recycled materials but if you’re really keen to go zero-waste, an attachable bidet could be a fun place to start.

4. Ditch single-use water bottles, coffee cups, and straws

It’s pretty wild that single-use plastics, cups, and straws are still a thing in 2023, considering they are all terrible for the planet (and turtles!). Plastics take a really long time to break down when tossed into the landfills and emit harmful toxins into the soil during this process. When you go out to eat, bring along a reusable metal or glass straw, a container for your leftovers or to-go order, and a reusable coffee or beverage cup.

5. Start a collection of reusable tote bags

Not only are tote bags incredibly stylish, but they are also great for the environment as plastic bags take hundreds of years to break down in the landfill. Plus, many of them also end up in our precious oceans. Only if you don't already own a few, start creating a collection of reusable shopper and tote bags that you can take when you go thrifting or grocery shopping. This should also save you some money on paper bags as many places charge for these now. 

6. Compost your food scraps and visit zero-waste grocery stores

Once you start composting, we promise that you’ll never go back. There are a few popular home composting methods, each drastically reducing the amount of food scraps made in your kitchen. When food waste breaks down in the landfills, it can emit greenhouse gasses as it’s broken down without oxygen. But when your vegetable scraps and half eaten sandwich break down in your outdoor composter, oxygen is involved, making it a much more environmentally friendly process.

7. Shop ethical and sustainable clothing

If you’re wanting to go full-on vegan, it’s time to ditch fabrics like wool and leather. Shopping second-hand or thrifting is a great way to support the circular economy and give life to something that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. When you do decide to purchase a new item, be sure that it’s made sustainably with processes that have little to no environmental impact. Fast fashion should really be avoided at all costs. One last tip: here's how to start your own vegan capsule wardrobe.

Embrace imperfection

Don't forget to have fun with these tips! And you don't have to be perfect at this straightaway. Yes, always do your very best (taking the wise words by Dr. Maya Angelou 👆 to heart), but also remember: in the end we'll have way more positive impact together if everyone does the low-waste living imperfectly, than only a few people doing it perfectly.