Living Zero-Waste: 3 Myths Busted!

The idea of making next to zero trash can seem incredibly daunting to many people. When most of everything we consume comes packaged and wrapped, the idea of living a zero-waste lifestyle doesn’t seem possible. What most people don’t realize is that many of the steps towards reducing one’s trash are actually incredibly easy and money-saving!

If you have ever been curious about how you can shrink your trash footprint and live life a whole lot greener, than keep reading as I dispel the common myths of living a zero-waste life!

3 myths about zero waste living

Myth #1: I have to be 100% trash-free.

First we have to ask ourselves, “why is there trash in the first place?” The reason: poor design, and poor recovery. Currently, the way most goods are produced falls into linear production model. In general, that means products are designed and manufactured to not be recaptured and put cycled back into the production system. Basically, goods are made, consumed, and then disposed (another new addition to the landfill family). This linear production economy equals trash and avoiding it 100% of the time—unfortunately— is just not realistic. Even the best zero-wasters still produce bits of trash. Don’t beat yourself up if you make some trash. The goal is to become an empowered, informed, and conscious consumer! By voting with our dollar we put the heat on industries to design goods to be fully recoverable, which means every part of the product can be introduced back into the cycle once again.

The term “zero waste” is an industrial term. It is the opposite of the current linear production system we are all a part of. A zero-waste economy is one where design, manufacturing, consuming, and recapture are all on the same page for recovery. We call this a circular economy.

Again, the best we can do is be super-empowered consumers and avoid as much trash as possible by flexing our consumer muscles and making choices which drastically eliminate needless waste. This way we send a powerful message to companies to make shifts in how their product is designed and recovered.

The zero waste lifestyle is not about perfection; some trash will happen!


Myth #2: It’s expensive to have a zero-waste lifestyle.

The illusion of a greener lifestyle is that it’s more expensive, but in our family we have saved money! Because we simplified our wants and needs, decluttered, and have bought less packaged products and foods we have eliminated so many common purchases. For example, we no longer buy paper towels, napkins, tissues, plastic baggies, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, razor blades, and pre-packaged foods. Instead, we have durable and lasting reusable products.

We even save money by eliminating the need to buy cleaning and personal care products by making our own from simple and inexpensive ingredients. Even just hang-drying our clothes has saved us nearly $50 from our monthly energy bill! That’s $600 dollars a year! For the ladies, by choosing reusable menstrual pads and cups, you’ll save roughly $90 dollars a year! It all adds up!

When you move from a disposable lifestyle to a reusable lifestyle you clear out the unnecessary items and waste from life and make room for better health, less stress, and less need to buy things we don’t actually need. Instead, we look for meaningful experiences rather than stuff.


Myth #3: Changing my habits won’t really make a difference.

“Does it really make a difference?” is the one question I get asked the most. While it seems as though all of your efforts go to waste every time you pass an overflowing trash can, we are all in this together and we all inspire change through our individual actions. One of my favorite quotes says: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale


AndreaSandersPhotoAbout the author of this post:

Andrea Sanders lives in Boulder, Colorado where she helps individuals, families, and businesses reduce their environmental impact. Learn more about Andrea and her zero waste mission at She shares daily zero-waste inspiration on Instagram (@BeZeroWasteGirl).

  • Amanda Wilson

    I was wondering what products you bought that were durable to replace plastic bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, tissues and razor blades. We have glass and plastic food containers, but we haven’t totally phased out the plastic bags yet. I use the plastic wrap very infrequently, but still need to use it if I’m steaming in the microwave. What can I use instead? Also what are the white bags called that are holding the produce in the article? I have never come across these before, but they look very cool and helpful! Can you store the food in there in the fridge? Sorry for so many questions, but I was very curious! We don’t use packages goods, paper towels or napkins. So we are getting there. We also use reusable grocery bags too!

    • Andrea is having a bit of trouble posting her reply, so I’m posting it for her! 🙂

      Hi Amanda,

      This is Andrea! Thanks for the questions! And great job with all the zero waste effort! Every bit helps! : )

      Instead of plastic wrap we use Abeego Food Wraps ( They keep food fresher longer, are reusable (I’ve had mine for a 3 years now), and compostable at the end of it’s life. Zero plastic! They come in different sizes too. I also steam veggies in a double-broiler on the stove.

      I also put all leftovers and snacks in different size glass jars.

      Instead of plastic sandwich bags, I use glass jars, cloth produce bags (double as snack bags), and reusable hemp snack bags. ( ) I would be careful with using plastic around food and heat. Plastic when heated can leach into foods. : )

      The white bag you see in the photo is a Be Zero up-cycled produce bag that we make from retired fabric. I’ll be selling those soon at Be Zero this fall.

      My husband and I use a safety razor, which includes unpackaged shaving soap & shaving brush. I’ll never go back to disposable razors again! So much cheaper! And I haven’t cut my self at all with a safety razor! We got ours on Amazon – Merkur 20C Long Handle Black Double Edge Safety Razor

      For tissues, we use cut up-cycled fabric into small squares and put into a glass jar. I make so many that we don’t have to wash often!

      If you have anymore questions you can join me online via Skype for my Zero Waste 101 Class. ( )

  • Dr.Deb

    Andrea, not only are these really great tips, but your reply to the previous commenter was as informative as the original article! Looking forward to checking out the 3 links you provide, including your own site. Thank you for sharing this information in a way that’s so accessible.

    • Andrea Sanders

      Thanks so much Dr. Deb! I appreciate it!