You’ve probably already seen them, the Zero-Waste lifestylers that can fit a years worth of household trash into a mason jar. You probably, think, “ That is amazing, but I could never do it … I don’t even own a mason jar!” Luckily, any kind of waste reduction—even if it doesn’t get you to zero—makes an impact. Here are 10 of the top zero waste bloggers to follow on Instagram, and some starter tips on how to make less wasteful choices when cooking or dining out.
Zero Wasters around the world are taking the lifestyle head-on. Florine of The Wasted Blog resides in Germany, where she shares her waste-free recipes for any who choose to partake. She says that surprises along the journey to Zero-Waste was, “How many options I had. I thought by choosing to live a zero waste lifestyle I might have to cut out a lot of what I had been eating before. But it turns out that once I looked up a few recipes and figured out what to do with all these root vegetables, I found myself eating way healthier and my meals were so much more satisfying.”
In her Going Zero Waste blog, Kathryn Kellogg breaks down the Zero Waste lifestyle in an easy-to-follow format. For those starting out, she recommends, “Truly make a commitment to try one thing whether it be composting, bringing a reusable water bottle whenever you go out, or bringing reusable bags (produce bags too) to the grocery store. Just pick one thing and commit wholeheartedly. Once you master one thing, then maybe try something new. But, it all just starts with one change.”
Vlogger Manuela Baron, aka Girl Gone Green, is great for those who prefer TV to reading. Making Zero-Waste food choices when being out and about can be cumbersome and awkward for some, but not Manuela: “I love when people ask me questions because it’s a conversation starter. My favorite one is about straws. If someone were to offer me a plastic drink I’d politely thank them but explain that I avoid disposables. People can tell that I am passionate about the environment, and my enthusiasm about zero waste helps them understand my decision to refuse the item.”
Anne-Marie Bonneau, aka The Zero-Waste Chef, blogs about eliminating waste from cooking, and is a great starting point for anyone looking to minimize their waste in the kitchen. Her plethora of recipes are simple and tasty even for a novice chef. Her advice for newbie kitchen Zero-Wasters is simple: avoid food waste. “Because so many of us don’t know how to cook, when we do attempt it we rely on enticing looking recipes, go out and buy a bunch of ingredients we won’t use up, waste those and then often waste the leftovers. There is a better way: shop from the pantry and refrigerator, get creative and use up what’s on hand. This alone would drastically reduce food waste (and save a lot of money).”
Bianca is an Italian living in the UK, trying to make her path Zero Waste as she writes in her blog, Zero Waste Path. Yes, this Italiana makes her pasta and focaccia from scratch. But when she’s treating herself to a night out at a restaurant, “When I have to choose a place where to eat I give priority to places that use reusable plates and utensils, that have recycling bins or that at least allow me to bring my own things. Bringing your own utensils or cotton napkin can be a little scary at the beginning, I was always afraid that the restaurant owner would be annoyed by it, but actually it usually generates curiosity and makes them remember you (in a good way)!”
Living in a city provides many challenges to living waste free. But Celia of Chicago is giving it a go, and writing home about it. “With kids, you have the opportunity to begin reshaping how the next generation will look at waste. So, involving them in your decisions and making good habits as a family—and then talking about why you’re trying to reduce your waste—can have such an impact. I’d recommend working together to set up a compost bin, if you have a yard. You’ll notice the amount of garbage you produce reduce drastically, and it can be a good, hands-on way to engage your children.”
Kathleen is the Zero Waste Wanderess, and as she wanders the world, she imparts her lessons about how to live low-impact, “Recycling is a bit of a myth. Ten percent is not even truly recycled. Instead, that 10 percent is essentially down-cycled, meaning it is reworked using more fossil fuels and chemicals only to be made a lesser grade, inferior product such as doormats. Plastic recyclables can only be down-cycled a couple of times. Ultimately, all recyclables end up in landfills or the oceans as waste anyways.”
Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life lives plastic-free in Oakland, California, where she works as an accountant by day and a plastic-free citizen 24/7. She has 100 Steps to a Plastic Free Life, and step one is pretty easy: “Give up bottled water. Not only does it come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it. And many brands of bottled water are simply filtered tap water. Get a reusable stainless steel bottle or stainless steel travel mug, fill it up with tap water before leaving the house, and refill it wherever you happen to be.”
With more than 75,000 subscribers on YouTube and more than 90,000 followers on Instagram, Trash is for Tossers’ Lauren Singer is reaching a wide audience beyond her home in New York City. Her advice to those embarking on a zero-waste journey, “When it comes to zero waste, if you do your research and are diligent, nothing is actually hard. I believe that I can do anything I set my mind to and so I just focus on what my values are and then living those values and being the best version of myself that I can be.”
This list closes with Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home, who is considered by many as the leader of the Zero Waste Lifestyle movement. Living with her family of four in Mill Valley, California, her home generates just a jar of landfill waste a year. Her book, Zero Waste Home, is available in 14 languages, and Johnson leads the charge giving lectures about how to live a Zero Waste lifestyle to businesses, universities, and other organizations around the world. Her philosophy is easily remembered as the “5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, and only in that order.” Composting is key to reducing waste in the kitchen. Her advice to getting your city to offer municipal composting options is to, “Let your voice be heard. It’s up to the consumer/citizen to propose alternatives, when they do, the alternatives actually have a chance of being implemented.I went to the city council meeting and talked about how important composting was for my family when they considered having one, and then it passed.”
Main photo by @TheWastedBlog
Madina Papadopoulos is a New York-based freelance writer, author, and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.