Sustainable Living

Going Waste Free Doesn’t Have to be Fancy or Expensive

When you think of “plastic free” or “zero waste,” does a certain aesthetic come to mind? It does for me. I picture those beautiful HGTV-type kitchens with matching jars in the pantry or bathrooms with bamboo and linen or amber glass. I think I do that because companies have caught onto the profitability of zero-waste and sustainable products and found a way to effectively market it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with owning a beautifully curated zero-waste home, but I do think it is important to remember that going waste free does not have to be fancy.

Being sustainable doesn’t have to mean purchasing a ton of new zero-waste products (because that, in itself, can be wasteful). This is what’s motivating me to share some of the low cost, not-at-all-fancy, waste free aspects of my home.

zero waste jars on wooden shelf for going waste free

Affordable Ways for Going Waste Free and Zero Waste

Krista reflected on the cost of going plastic free in her Plastic Free July: 3 Years On post. One of the reasons we started our blog was to show that sustainable lifestyle choices don’t have to break the bank. As someone who has experienced a variety of financial struggles in life, the way I approach going waste free and living sustainably is to reuse everything.

My Waste Free Home

While I do try and reduce it as much as possibly, I do have plastic in my home. I’m on a journey to being as waste free as possible, but am not completely there yet. When I do end up having plastic or other types of waste, those items are not going to the landfill until I get every possible use out of them or find a way to recycle them.

This means I have a number of quirky things in my home, but I feel that fits my personality. And since I love the mish-mash style of my things, that’s all that really matters. I want to share some of these random bits to hopefully inspire you to reuse some items and embrace the idea that going waste free, plastic free, zero-waste (or however you describe it!) doesn’t have to involve big, new purchases.

Remember this: It doesn’t have to be fancy to be functional.

With all that being said, here’s a tour of some of my mis-matched, non-fancy (yet functional!) household items.

Waste Free Plant Care

You’ll see a lot of jars around my home because they are so versatile to use. I love them so much I wrote a list of 26 ways to reuse glass jars!

Plant Pots

When I started bringing plants home, instead of buying expensive planters I got creative with the items I had on hand. I gave some jars and tin cans a bit of a makeover with paint and made some cute planters. (Full disclosure, only two out of four of these plants are still living–my gardening skills may be a work in progress.

waste free plant pots

Watering Can

I ended up with this large plastic creamer bottle and it was far too functional for me to recycle right away–and I’m so glad I kept it! It works perfectly as a watering can for all of my houseplants.

Reused plastic just for waste free watering can

Waste Free Food Storage

As you can see, I wasn’t joking about the jars. Whether it’s my cupboards or fridge, most of my food or drinks/liquids ends up being stored in jars. I try to keep any jar that comes my way, though it isn’t always possible since I only have so much space. Jars tend to be popular items to give away in zero waste groups or buy nothing groups though, so there is still a good chance those jars can be repurposed.

My food storage jars are all different shapes and sizes. Some of them match; most of them don’t. My priority with reusing these jars is to keep my costs down by not buying new containers that are really unnecessary. Going waste free, for me, means more that just zero-waste products or a zero-waste end game. My goal for sustainable living is extending the life of the items that come into my life.

Waste Free Kitchen Storage

If you regularly read our blog, you probably know this fact about me by now: if I can repurpose something, I will. Sometimes I’ll fancy something up (like this coffee tin turned utensil holder), but other times I’m okay with something simply being functional (like the sushi take out container turned dish soap holder).

Utensil Holder

This coffee tin craft is one of my favourite things and is actually really easy! You can take a look at how I made it here: Coffee Tin Craft Project.

Coffee tin craft utensil holder for going waste free

Soap Dish Caddy

I don’t get takeout a lot, but if I do and the containers have functional potential, I’ll keep them and reuse them. This dish soap caddy at my kitchen sink used to be a sushi take out container. While it isn’t plastic free, I’m aiming to lessen my waste by reusing the container before disposing of it.

The next time you get a take out container, consider reusing it! Check out this list of 10 ways to reuse takeout containers for inspiration.

Kitchen soap caddy
Sushi tray turned soap dish

Waste Free Household Items

Plastic is a sneaky thing and can appear in the smallest ways–from twist ties holding together your bag-less produce items to bread bag clips to product containers. I loved reading Michelle’s from Boomer Eco-Crusader’s weekly summaries of her Plastic Free July journey where she shared her daily recap of plastic use. It’s so eye opening how plastic shows up and two years later I still think about her posts!

Cord Holder

In my house, you can find bread bag clips keeping my cords together.

Reuse bread bag clip to hold a cord

Miscellaneous Storage Bins

Recycling all of my plastic vitamin containers seemed like such a waste, so I was determined to get creative and find a way to reuse them. I ended up cutting the vitamin containers in half and using the bottom halves as “catch all” mini-storage containers. They’ve been great for some random bathroom items like small essential oil jars and hair ties.

Not pictured, but also used as storage in my bathroom are tin cans for some first aid items and other miscellaneous plastic tubs from either berries or take out that I use for organizing. It isn’t all matching and perfect, but it certainly is all functional.

Waste Free Gifting

Gifts aren’t a household item, but are a way to share your love of going waste free with others in a fun way. I love repurposing things as gift wrap. Sometimes that means making gift bags and boxes and sometimes that means using a functional item as wrapping.

Below are two examples–a reused jar with homemade bath salts and gift bags made from food packaging boxes.

For more plastic free gift wrapping ideas, check out our post Plastic Free Gift Wrap, which includes the instructions for your own DIY gift bags and bows.

Going Waste Free and Living Sustainably

Remember, the most sustainable thing you can buy is nothing. So if you have the chance to reuse something and can turn waste into something functional, why not give it a try!

What items do you reuse around your house?

Cork Yoga Mat

Stay up to date with what’s happening on A Sustainably Simple Life!
Sign up to receive our monthly email updates!


What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

%d bloggers like this: