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Zero Waste Lifestyle – Definition, Advantages, Rules and Tips

Zero Waste lifestyle - definition, benefits, principles and tips for less waste in everyday life.

Want to know all about the zero waste lifestyle? Then you've come to the right place! Those who prefer live sustainably If you want to live waste-free, you have to reduce the amount of waste you produce. But how exactly do you live as waste-free as possible? People in the growing, environmentally friendly and waste-avoiding zero waste movement are leading the way.

In this article, I would like to explain exactly what is behind the "zero waste" lifestyle - from the definition, benefits, rules and useful basic equipment to valuable tips for practical implementation in everyday life. Let's go!

Here you can find a brief overview of the article in advance:

  1. Definition
  2. Advantages
  3. Rules
  4. Basic equipment
  5. Tips
  6. Closing words

Definition: What is the Zero Waste movement?

Zero Waste - What to do against the throwaway society?

Zero waste literally means "Zero waste". The aim of the movement is, to produce no waste at all at some point with one's own way of life, in order to Earth's natural resources and preserve a clean planet for future generations.

The aim is therefore to prevent waste from being produced in the first place, so that nature can be preserved above all. saved from non-biodegradable plastic waste and does not have to be laboriously removed from the environment later.

"Invented" the way of life was the American woman Bea Johnsonwho purposefully turned her life upside down so that she and her family of four only produce so little waste each year that it fits into a small jam jar. She is with her book Living happily without waste* as a pioneer of the Zero Waste movement.

Where is the difference to a plastic free lifestyle? The Zero Waste movement also tries to avoid plastic waste, but generally any form of waste (including food waste or electrical waste, for example).

Advantages: Why should you live "Zero Waste"?

Advantages of the Zero Waste lifestyle

We need people who lead the way! But why are we going in this direction in the first place? Before I introduce you to the zero waste rules and tips for implementation, I would first like to give you the most important thing: the necessary motivation for the zero waste lifestyle.

Why should you live a waste-avoiding life? These overriding reasons speak in favor of changing your lifestyle habits and consciously avoiding waste:

  • Live more relaxed
  • Save money
  • Stay healthy
  • Protect the environment
  • Protect animals
  • Strengthening the local economy
  • Conserve resources

Of course, that's all pretty easy to say. I would like to briefly explain the reasons below so that they will motivate you in the long term.

Live more relaxed

Who consciously avoids waste, Lives easiermore mindful, more positive, freer and more natural. That is my personal observation. You implement changes in your life with full conviction, free yourself from superfluous baggage and reduce your possessions over time to what is really necessary. The gained overview creates a pleasant feeling of relaxation.

In addition one will more confidentbecause one of the great challenges, namely to get rid of old habits and adapt new ones, has successfully mastered.

Save money

With the Zero Waste lifestyle, you'll not only live a more relaxed life, you'll also have a lot more money in your wallet! This is mainly because you automatically also live more minimalistbecause you scrutinize your purchases and only spend money on things that are essential.

Besides you can Save on waste fees - and your drinking water is also much cheaper if you use the Tap water mineral water than packaged water. Particularly lucrative, however, is the replacement of disposable products that have to be bought over and over again with long-lasting products that can be reused forever. Reusable alternatives.

Tip: Let go of the idea that sustainability is expensive. Under almost all aspects save money through a sustainable lifestyle. In the linked article, I explain this advantage of the zero waste lifestyle in more detail.

Stay healthy

Those who buy loose and unpackaged consume Increased fresh products instead of pre-packaged, processed convenience products. In addition, a waste-avoiding lifestyle generally means that people avoid contact with plastic packaging, which can contain hazardous substances, more often. Plasticizersuch as bisphenol-A (BPA).

In addition, being a conscious consumer also has the effect of health-threatening challenges of our time, such as the Water shortage, the air pollution or the Microplastics in the sea, in the opposite direction. If only because fewer products and packaging are produced.

Protect the environment

With the Zero Waste lifestyle, you contribute to solving countless other problems, ecological problems of our time with. For example, you help to improve the climate change as less CO2 is emitted for you in the production of goods and their packaging materials.

What's more, by avoiding waste yourself, you are also Pollution by plastic waste and other man-made waste.

Conserve resources

The conscious Resource conservation in your own everyday life protects our planet from being exploited by us humans for its raw materials so that functioning ecosystems can be preserved and remain intact. The more people who live as waste-free as possible, the better.

Good to know: The so-called Earth Overshoot Day - i.e. the day of the year on which we humans have consumed more renewable resources than the earth can reproduce in the entire year - is thus moving ever closer to the end of the year.

Protect animals

Consciously avoiding waste also protects animals and does something for biodiversity on earth. On the one hand, because the ecosystems in which they live remain intact. Secondly, because they cannot die from the plastic waste that lingers in nature forever.

According to NABU, every year about one million seabirds and 135,000 marine mammals from the consequences of our throwaway mania.₁ For example, due to plastic in their stomachs or because they get caught in plastic nets and simply can't get out.

Strengthening the local economy

Living a zero waste lifestyle promotes social interaction, drives the circular economy and creates new ones, future-proof jobs in the region. For example, packaging-free goods can be sourced preferably from regional markets, which supports the local economy and your health. Personal living environment is promoted.

Tip: In the article "Why Zero Waste?" I will go into the reasons and advantages in more detail in the next section. I have really only concentrated on the core motives here. This list could actually be sooo much longer. Feel free to write me a comment with your personal reasons for joining the Zero Waste movement.

Rules: What are the key principles of the Zero Waste lifestyle?

The rules of the Zero Waste lifestyle

How to enjoy the above benefits now? Valuable rules of the Zero Waste lifestyle help you to get your waste-avoiding project off to an ideal start and to keep it going in the long term.

"The best garbage is the garbage that doesn't get created in the first place."

Unknown (more under Zero Waste Quotes)

Over the years, existing principles have constantly evolved. Here I would like to introduce you to two of them that you can adopt (especially as a zero waste beginner).

My personal 14 R's for the zero waste lifestyle

Maybe you have heard about the 5 R's of Zero Waste heard? These supporting principles (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot) all begin with the letter "R" in English and are therefore easy to remember.

I have them for myself personally extended to 14 rules (actually all beginning with "R")because I realized that the original five rules didn't cover all the zero waste possibilities. I would like to present them all to you here:

#1 reduce

Reduce own consumption.

What things do you really need in your life? Nowadays, we are influenced by advertising everywhere and buy things that we don't really need. One more minimalist lifestyle and the conscious reduction to the things you really need avoids waste and leads to a better overview and clarity in life.

#2 reuse

Reuse things for as long as possible instead of throwing them away.

With disposable products such as CoffeeToGo cups and disposable razors, you won't make anyone happy except the industry. Break out of the Disposable society and replace these disposable products with eternally reusable alternatives. You should also give preference to second-hand goods whenever possible.

e.g. glass straw instead of plastic straw or buying a used but still high quality sweater

#3 rent

Borrowing things instead of buying new.

Another important basic rule is borrowing. By borrowing things, you save money in a sustainable way and don't have them lying unused in the corner of your room after just two weeks. You borrow things when you need them and return them when you don't need them. In the same way, you also lend some of the things in your possession to others when you don't need them. This avoids waste and conserves natural resources.

e.g. using a car via car sharing or borrowing a suit instead of buying a new one

#4 redesign

Modify products so that they do not produce waste.

Countless products in drugstores, supermarkets and online stores could do with significantly less or no packaging waste. Many product manufacturers do not see this potential. That's why it's an important rule of the zero waste lifestyle to contact them by email, phone call or with Apps like Replace Plastic to draw attention to this. The more people do this, the more likely the goods will be adjusted.

e.g. conversion of a product packaging from plastic to paper.

#5 repair

Fix things instead of throwing them away.

In our society, many people tend to buy a new product when it no longer works. This naturally results in a lot of waste. The more sustainable alternative is repair - either independently, in a Repair Café, with the help of friends and neighbors or professionally in a workshop. Repairing is a very important principle for avoiding waste.

e.g. repair washing machine, bicycle or smartphone

#6 rot

Compost excess leftovers instead of disposing of them.

The aim of the zero waste lifestyle is to avoid waste. And what about the excess leftovers from our food? In fact, you can use carrot greens, stale bread, radish leaves and countless other Still utilize food scraps.

But of course this is not possible with all foods. What is absolutely no longer usable should therefore be properly composted to make fertile soil. For example, with the compost heap in the garden or in the worm bin and the bokashi bucket in your own four walls.

#7 replace

Replace the short-lived with the long-lived.

If you want to avoid waste, you should replace all disposable products and other short-lived, low-quality goods with durable, reusable, well-processed alternatives. And do this gradually. Because the things you own that have already been produced should be used for as long as they serve you.

e.g. replace plastic bags with jute bags

#8 recycle

Recycle the resulting waste.

Your general goal should first be to produce significantly less waste. It is basically impossible for your lifestyle to produce absolutely no waste. Unusable items that can no longer be reused, repaired or replaced (i.e. "precycled") should then be returned to the materials cycle and recycled in a way that conserves resources as much as possible.

#9 refuse

Saying no and rejecting offers.

I used to immediately accept things that were offered to me for free. Even if I didn't need them. In the spirit of the zero waste lifestyle, I do things differently today. First of all, I ask myself: do I really need this? If the answer is "no", I thankfully decline. Because what you don't need quickly ends up in the bin.

e.g. rejecting flyers in the pedestrian zone or the Do not post advertising" sticker on the mailbox glue

#10 reach

Reaching out to each other and sharing things.

Whether among neighbors, friends, colleagues or in the family - the zero waste lifestyle also means living together, helping each other out and sharing things.

e.g. borrow drill or stepladder from neighbors

#11 remember

Remembering what you really need.

Are you about to make a purchase decision? Then remind yourself that and how you have managed without the product in question so far - and that you have made a conscious decision not to produce any more waste. Is it really vital and don't the other zero waste basic rules help? Only if this is the case should you buy something new.

#12 refill

Refill products instead of buying them new and packaged.

The packaging of cosmetics and household products in particular leaves behind waste every time it is used up. It is more environmentally friendly to have the old containers refilled and continue to use them. Many drugstores already offer suitable refill stations. You can also make and refill countless cleaning products yourself.

e.g. dental floss in a refillable glass bottle

#13 reinvent

Upcycling things and making them yourself.

The so-called Upcycling also helps enormously with waste avoidance. Even things that are now unusable and cannot be repaired can usually be given a second life in a different role. You can also make or build countless everyday objects yourself.

e.g. make shopping bag from old t-shirt or Building dining table from old oak planks

#14 respect

Respect things, materials and production effort.

Those who act in the spirit of zero waste value the things they have and try to use them for as long as possible. They buy second-hand more often and respect both the object and its material, as well as the effort that was necessary to produce it. This attitude helps tremendously to reduce waste in everyday life.

Notice: Not all rules have to make sense to you. Simply decide for yourself which aspects are valuable for your personal development and your project.

The pyramid of sustainable consumption

Both the choice of colors and the structure of the pyramid of sustainable consumption should remind you of Maslow's pyramid of needs. The Zero Waste lifestyle has used its effective style to illustrate this, how to make an environmentally friendly consumption decision.

And in this Order:

  1. Use what you have
  2. Fix what you have
  3. Borrow it
  4. Swap it
  5. Buy Second Hand
  6. Do it yourself
  7. Only then: Buy it new

By adhering to this order in your potential future purchasing decisions, you will guaranteed to buy fewer superfluous things and therefore produce less waste.

Basic equipment: What things make the Zero Waste lifestyle easier for me?

Some utensils are particularly good at helping to avoid waste in everyday life. There aren't many, but they make a crucial difference. Here I have compiled a list of the classic Zero Waste Basic Equipment and linked to you where you can get the corresponding item.

Drinking bottle

A reusable Stainless steel drinking bottle or glass you can get Fill up everywhere with tap water or other drinks and avoid plastic bottles.

This water bottle* has served me faithfully for many years.

Bottle brush

With a Bottle brush you can reach every spot in your water bottle to easily clean it. clean and reuse forever.

This bottle brush* I can recommend to you.

CoffeeToGo mug

Paper and plastic cups for coffee & co. clog up the public garbage cans in particular in the cities. Why don't you just use a reusable alternative?

This reusable cup* works wonderfully.

Fruit and vegetable nets

Fruit and vegetable bags are the Zero Waste Alternative for the thin, free plastic bags in the fruit and vegetable department.

These networks* I use myself.

Preserving jars

Preserving jars are the classics of the Zero Waste basic equipment. With them you can for example Buying, sorting or storing food without packaging.

These preserving jars* belong in every waste-avoiding household.

Stainless steel lunch box and Oilcloths

Never again cling film or plastic bags for your meals! With a Stainless steel lunch box or eternally reusable oilcloths you are well equipped.

This stainless steel lunch box* and these oilcloths* I can recommend to you.

Backpack and jute bag

So that you can Grocery shopping and other goods in everyday life without waste-producing bags and packaging, you should buy a robust Backpack and get a jute bag that can be used forever.

This backpack made from marine litter* I use. And you can get jute bags at any organic or supermarket checkout.

Tips: How can you avoid waste in everyday life?

Waste-free shopping in the unpacked store
An unpackaged store is a great way to reduce your own waste when shopping

Some Tips for avoiding waste you've already picked up on up to this point. But it's important to me that you also understand the classic everyday areas the best Zero waste options and opportunities in order to start your lifestyle as quickly and purposefully as possible and move from a problem to a solution.

"What we do today will determine what the world looks like tomorrow."

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

I would now like to give you a few tips to help you move from being part of the problem to being the solution.


There is hardly any other area of our everyday lives where waste can be prevented as effectively as in the household. For example, you can use a Bar soap instead of showering with shampoo and shower gel from a plastic bottle. Or how about using your foaming Making your own washing-up liquid from ivy, in order to avoid the Save packaging material from the drugstore?

Your options for making less waste in the household are almost unlimited. Here are a few further blog articles where you can pick up more tips:


As soon as you start to consciously pay attention to the waste your current lifestyle leaves behind, you will realize that a large part of it is packaging waste generated by your shopping habits.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can tackle this problem:

  • Buy food in bulk (e.g. with your cloth bags in the supermarket or organic market, in the unpacked store or simply at the weekly market at your place)
  • Take your Tupperware to the deli counter: You can simply have fresh food filled into stainless steel containers at the counter. Many markets and smaller farm stores now offer this option.
  • Prefer products in a jar: Whether cosmetics or food - if you have the option, you should choose glass containers over plastic packaging.
  • Store second hand: Used goods are usually unpackaged. You also save natural resources when buying new items. So take a look more often in second-hand stores or at eBay Classifieds over.
  • Prefer plastic-free online stores: There are now also many providers on the Internet who do not use unnecessary packaging material and send their goods without plastic.

Tip: Dem shopping as plastic-free as possible I have dedicated a separate blog article. Feel free to take a look!

Free time

Zero Waste trip - Support CleanUp on vacation
A picture of the CleanUp in South Africa - why not support or organize a clean-up campaign during your vacation?

A consciously chosen lifestyle should of course not end with your leisure activities. I also have a few tips that you can implement to reduce waste in your everyday life:

  • Organize or support CleanUp campaigns: To the good deeds in your everyday life could include regular clean-up campaigns. Collect garbage from the environment together with others or go for a walk. Plogging. (Jogging and collecting garbage combined)
  • Zero Waste at the Festival: By having your own cup and drinking bottle or pre-cooked meals, for example, it is also possible to at the festival "Zero Waste on the road. There are even some events whose organizers consciously want to avoid waste!
  • Collecting garbage on vacation: Also in the You can collect garbage on vacation! Simply free a beach from plastic waste and start a Beach CleanUp. Unfortunately, this is possible on almost every popular vacation beach these days.
  • Zero Waste on the Road: Try the next time you Travel consciously to avoid waste. This works again with your water bottle, lunch boxes and cutlery, for example. You can use train tickets digitally and choose accommodation that is as environmentally friendly as possible with a zero waste philosophy.

Do you know of any other good zero waste leisure tips? Then feel free to share it with me and the community in the comments.

Inspiration and motivation

In addition to the practical tips, it is also important that you always bear in mind the benefits of a waste-avoiding lifestyle, learn new lifehacks and stay informed at all times. Through your own creativity and motivation, the inspiration from the Zero Waste Blog and useful books and magazines, you'll be able to stay on the ball.

Below are some books that I can recommend to you. The Plastic-free book for beginners I even wrote it myself. If you like, you can download it order directly here*.

What is Zero Waste?

Zero waste is a waste-avoiding way of life. Those who live according to this principle try to produce no more waste over time with their own lifestyle.

Why should you live according to the Zero Waste principle?

Many people live "zero waste" in order to reduce the Earth's natural resources and preserve a clean planet for future generations. In addition to ecological motives, many people are also driven by ethical and financial reasons to avoid waste.

Is a life without waste possible?

It's hard to imagine a life without any waste at the moment. Nevertheless, some zero waste pioneers manage to put a whole year's worth of waste into a tiny preserving jar. It is important to see the word "zero" as a long-term goal and not to let it put you off. The less waste you produce in your everyday life, the better.

The zero waste lifestyle in the fight against wasting resources and waste in the environment

After decades of only being able to Advantages of the plastic and the throwaway society in general, we now get - among other things with the conspicuous Waste in the environment - feel the disadvantages. The zero waste lifestyle shifts down a few gears and promotes a more conscious use of the natural resources of the only planet available to us, our children and grandchildren.

I very much hope that I have been able to bring you closer to the topic of zero waste with this article. Finally, I would like to share some suitable tips with you, further articles that might be of interest to you:

Do you have any questions, comments or further tips for implementing a waste-avoiding lifestyle? Then I look forward to your comment!

Stay clean,


PS: One of my first blog articles was Living plastic-free - tips & tricks. Over the years, the number of useful tips has increased significantly. Take a look now to get even more tips on avoiding waste. Good luck with the implementation!

₁ Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU): Plastic waste and its consequences. [13.01.2023].

Coffee box Suggestions for improvement Newsletter

* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

10 thoughts on “Zero Waste Lebensstil – Definition, Vorteile, Grundsätze und Tipps für weniger Müll im Alltag”

  1. The baking mats themselves are ne good idea - but they are made of silicone ... also not exactly harmless. Maybe you can find something better ...
    And: there are teapots made of glass with filter insert ... also a good way to prepare tea.

    1. Hi Karin, thanks for your comment, great idea! Trying to implement that right away on the blog 🙂
      Have a nice week.
      Many greetings,

  2. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about borrowing is the good old library. In addition to books, you can also borrow magazines, DVDs/Blu-rays and CDs. Some even offer board games, and the range of books on offer is also very extensive, at least in the larger libraries. They are also much cheaper than any other portal I know.
    Have a great week,
    warm greetings

    1. Hi Janina, thanks for your helpful comment! How could I actually forget the library 😉 .
      There you can see that loan concepts have always existed, but they gradually gathered a bit of dust and are now coming back to life.
      But that may just be my personal impression.
      Many greetings

  3. I think buying or sharing used books is good in principle, but we also have to think of the authors, who often live poorly on royalties.

    1. Hi Anna! You are also right! But somewhere we have to give in a little bit. Authors can also publish additional e-books, which also waste few natural resources. Either way a good point from you.
      Stay clean,

  4. I have a question about this article and in particular the following post:
    "Barely any trash fees: Live the Zero Waste lifestyle and you'll quickly notice that the trash can is nowhere near as full, and your low household waste also means significantly lower trash collection fees."
    We try to produce little waste and get by with a 60l residual waste container (which is still from the previous owner) despite diaper waste. Now the local authority is demanding that we use (and pay for) a larger residual waste bin. I feel this sends the wrong message that even though you produce little waste, you have to pay for more and have a larger container. Do you have any tips here? After all, people would probably avoid much more trash anyway if you paid for your own direct consumption. With the Zero Waste movement, which should be much bigger, the current system does not fit at all. I am glad to hear from you.

    1. Hello Esther,
      Your case is unfortunately the sad reality. Because the waste from households is constantly increasing, it is generally assumed that all people produce more waste. I would ask the local authority directly and start a discussion. Keep me/us here gladly up to date!
      Best regards and maximum success,

    2. Hello Esther,
      maybe there is a possibility to extend the collection rhythm to four weeks, in our country it is possible and it is a bit cheaper that way.

      1. Hi bee! Thanks for the tip - everyone can then simply ask the disposal company.
        Many greetings and happy holidays,

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