Waste Free Tennessee

Helping you make the transition to a more eco-friendly lifestyle, one step at a time. Reducing waste, choosing sustainability, and giving back to the environment to stop climate change and take care of this shared planet on which we live.

What is Zero Waste and How Do I Get Started?

We’re all concerned about the environment. No matter where you live, this website will be a tool to help you achieve your goals when it comes to reducing waste.

Here you will find helpful facts, DIY projects, help with recycling, and much more. We are working on spreading the word about reducing waste through local workshops and educational speaking events.

What is Zero Waste?

You may have first heard the term “zero waste” in conjunction with photos of a mason jar filled with two years worth of trash. The average person discards an average of 4.5 pounds of waste per day. While it’s an admirable goal, the majority of the zero waste community will not achieve such high standards. But that’s okay! You can still focus on a zero waste lifestyle without being “perfect” at it; meaning you are focused on reducing waste. “Zero” is nothing, and I dare say it would be almost, or perhaps even entirely impossible. Going zero waste means you’re making that effort to lessen the environmental impact of your own trash.

The definition of zero waste is,

The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

Zero Waste International Alliance

But what does that mean to us? The bottom line is that our goal is to keep more “stuff” out of the landfill and incinerators. A person who practices “Zero Waste” will be focused on sustainability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and overall better waste management.

Why is it important to focus on waste management and reduction? Because all of this waste in landfills contributes to climate change. Our oceans are overflowing with plastic pollution, and many of the Earth’s resources are limited in supply. The goal of zero waste is to preserve these natural resources and use less raw materials.

The Zero Waste Movement

When the zero waste movement began is hard to say, but we do know it’s been around for several decades. The movement was originally tied tightly to recycling; however, it is now more about product design and less about recycling. Waste prevention requires clever thinking and extended producer responsibility systems so that better products are created with the complete life-cycle of a product in mind.

Check your local government website for waste programs.

More About Going Zero Waste

If you are just beginning the Waste-Free Lifestyle here are some articles to inspire you to produce less trash.

You can also meet our team at Knoxville’s EarthFest events.

Make sure you are on the list to receive announcements for our Waste Free Tennessee Workshops 

Follow Waste Free Tennessee on Instagram.

Beginner Tips to start reducing waste right now.

  1. Recycle – educate yourself on recycling. Know what your local recycling facility accepts.
  2. Carry your own reusable shopping bags – keep them in the trunk of your car. Avoid single-use plastic bags.
  3. Keep containers with for drinks – a reusable water bottle, coffee mug, reusable straws and utensils; so you can ditch single-use plastic.
  4. Instead of putting your produce in a plastic film bag, simply put your produce directly in your cart (I hope you were planning to wash your apples anyway!) OR carry some net produce bags along with your reusable shopping bags.
  5. Keep cardboard boxes for carrying your groceries instead of recycling the cardboard right away. Boxes are easier to carry than bags anyhow!
  6. Shop the bulk bins! Here in Knoxville there are lots of stores with bulk bins. Try Three Rivers Market, Kroger, Whole Foods, Earth Fare and others. Save your leftover jars and other containers to use for bulk items.
  7. Pack zero waste lunches using a reusable container and cloth baggies.
  8. Replace disposable paper towels with eco friendly reusable rags. They do not have to be fancy – as a matter of fact, dark brown works best for cleaning up spills. Trust me. Coffee. 
  9. Instead of single use coffee pods, make a pour over or do a French press – or just make an entire pot of coffee and share it with your friends. Be popular! 
  10. Bar soap doesn’t require plastic, when possible use it instead of soap in plastic bottles.
  11. OR refill glass pump bottles with liquid soap at Wild Lavender on Union Avenue.
  12. Use natural rubber gloves instead of disposable latex gloves for washing dishes 
  13. Instead of dishwasher detergent in plastic bottles, buy your detergent in a cardboard box, or use eco-friendly dropps.
  14. For shampoo – try shampoo bars! Our family favorite is this one from Morrocco Method; they also make a
  15. Conditioner Bar (so you can ditch the plastic bottle!)
  16. Choose plastic-free hair brushes and combs. (Avoid buying new products until you’ve used up or worn out old ones.)
  17. Make the switch to a safety razor and ditch the plastic razors – they give a closer shave and look more beautiful!
  18. Get plastic free toilet paper delivered to your home. Who Gives a Crap is wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
  19. Make your own beeswax wrap instead of plastic cling film or else buy some already made. It smells great!
  20. Use good old fashioned iron skillets.
  21. Buy second hand clothing at thrift stores and other second hand shops instead of fast fashion. You can also buy clothing from companies that have a take-back program.
  22. Compost food waste
  23. Use ceramic, stainless steel or glass for pet food and water – your cat hates plastic and your dog will thank you too!
  24. BYOB. Bring Your Own Beverage containers that is! When you go to an event take a stainless steel cup for your drink! People will think you are SERIOUS!
  25. Wrap gifts the eco-friendly way.
  26. Learn to live with less.

Are you Ready for the Zero Waste Lifestyle?

Keep in mind that it’s just as important to focus on reducing waste generation as it is to recycle.

187 thoughts on “What is Zero Waste and How Do I Get Started?

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