How To Start A Zero Waste Homestead

As homesteaders, we tend to be crafty and resourceful. Whether it is because of our money situations, or because we just simply want an easier and simpler way of life, we tend to be more eco-friendly too. Does this sound like you? Well if so, then have you considered trying to start a zero-waste homestead? Yep, that’s right. Zero waste. Let’s try to reduce our waste this year, shall we?

A zero-waste homestead means exactly what it says. Zero waste. This may seem like an impossible feat. But in reality, with a little perseverance and dedication, you can be well on your way in no time. Let’s delve into the ways one can become a zero-waste homestead.

How To Start A Zero Waste Homestead

Eliminate the Disposables! 

Do you eat on paper plates? Do you use those red solo cups that are so popular at parties and picnics? Is it easier for you to throw away that plastic silverware after a meal? Well, guess what, get rid of all those things. A zero-waste homestead means no waste right?

Switch to good old-fashioned dishes, glasses, and silverware! That’s right, you have to wash dishes when you’re done with a meal. No more plates cups and utensils in the trash.

Eliminate the Paper!

When you have dinner, switch to cloth napkins that can be used and washed for reuse. You can even make your own in any design you want without being a pro at sewing. Even your paper towels can be eliminated. Have you heard of unpaper towels? I have no sewing skills at all and I made my own Unpaper towels!

You can even purchase reusable toilet paper! I must admit that I am not quite ready to make the leap to reusable toilet paper quite yet, however, it’s available if you are ready to take the plunge! These are all great ways to work towards a zero-waste homestead.


Eliminate the Plastic!

A zero-waste homestead does not use plastic. The easiest way to start eliminating plastic is to use cloth bags for shopping. There are so many totes available both in stores and online. Even groceries can be put in cloth bags instead of plastic. Check out some reusable totes from Amazon for example. When you’re done with the bags simply return them to the trunk of your car for your next shopping trip.

Eliminating plastic ties into eliminating disposables above. Use glasses instead of plastic cups, and eliminate the plastic plates and bowls too. Every bit counts.

Repurpose Everything!

Another great step towards a zero-waste homestead is to reuse everything you can. Those empty spaghetti jars make great storage for leftovers in the fridge, small toys, and trinkets and even for short-term storage of dry goods in the pantry. Coffee cans can be recovered and used to hold utensils in the kitchen. I use coffee cans to store food scraps in from dinner for my pigs as a treat in the evening.

Old socks become dusters. T-shirts get cut into small rags for washing the cars. Old waterproof boots can be turned into planters for the porch! Why not use those old jeans and an old flannel to make a scarecrow for the veggie garden.

Here are some other repurposed item ideas:

  • an old chandelier to a bird feeder
  • old throw pillows sewed together to make a dog bed
  • an old galvanized bucket on its side as a planter
  • wooden ladders can be a bath towel holder

Use Your Compost Pile!

Most homesteaders have a compost pile and if you don’t, make one! Almost everything can go into the compost pile. Read, Composting: Everything You Need To Know About It, to learn more about what goes into the compost pile. Composting is a great way to reuse your scraps and make a great addition to the soil for your garden at the same time!

If you don’t have the room outside for a compost pile, then look into a countertop compost bin. It sits on your counter and allows you to fill it up with table scraps while it slowly turns those scraps into compost. I have one and I love it!

Cook From Scratch!

If you want a zero waste homestead, start cooking from scratch. Don’t buy spices, make your own blends. Amazon has many options for bulk spices. I buy chili powder in bulk and make my own taco seasoning for example.

Also, start making your own meals from scratch. Maybe try your hand at once a month freezer cooking. It saves time and eliminates stress when you can pack your freezer full of meals already made and from scratch too! Make your own butter in your Kitchen Aid Mixer.

You can also make your own crockpot bread and even soup in a jar mixes.

Now you are equipped with a lot of great ideas you can use to start a zero-waste homestead. Taking small steps will help you achieve this goal. Start slow and take one step at a time. Start in one area and eliminate things one at a time. Before you know it you will be well on your way to a zero-waste homestead.


  1. I have a four-tier vermicomposting bin in the house that nobody notices. This time of year I have to scrounge around for enough to feed them but from spring through late autumn there’s never a shortage. No food is *ever* wasted here. Between two dogs, chicks and ducks, the worms, and fire, no food is ever sent to a landfill. No waste is an adjustment but I think it’s truly a lot easier way to live.

    1. Author

      I am looking into vermicomposting myself currently. I am so interested in where you keep this in your home and so inconspicuous! Let us know!

  2. Great advice! I think we could all be living with zero waster no matter where we live!

  3. We don’t us any paper products for the kitchen or cleaning. Not brave enough to get rid of the toilet paper. Cloth napkins and canning saves us from using cans that would be thrown away. Always something we can be doing.

    1. Author

      I am not quite ready for the toilet paper nor do I think I ever will be! However reducing in other areas is always smart, saves money, and is better on the environment.

  4. Eliminating waste to me is one of the best things we can do for our environment and plastic is sure one of the major problems causing so much pollution and is unhealthy for the body. Repuposing composting are also extremely important to reducing waste. great tips.

  5. Some very nice idea’s in the post on ways to reduce your foot print.

  6. Although my family has not attained the level of zero waste, we do pretty well. We usually have 1 small plastic grocery bag of waste each week. We fill the recyle bin up more than the trash bin. I compost for the garden and most of our kitchen waste goes to the chickens. However, I would love to have no waste at all, so thank you for the ideas. :)

    1. Author

      Being a no waste homestead is achievable but it takes some changing of our daily habits! It sounds like you are well on your way! Kuddos!

  7. Oh my gosh, we are horrible over here about zero waste, all in the name of saving time (for me). Everyone is out of the house most of the time, and I’m working 50+ hours per week. I don’t even shop! I have tons of reusable bags, but since I get my groceries delivered, I get plastic bags each week. This post is inspiring me to do something different in some areas!

    1. Author

      I love to hear that my posts can inspire others! Thanks!

  8. Love these ideas. Thanks for sharing. For sure, I will never use the toilet paper. But all the other ideas are perfect! Something I started doing last year was using shredded paper for cat litter. My daughter works in an office and brings me bags of shredded paper. It works great and it breaks down easily.

    1. Author

      I never thought of the idea of the newspaper for cat litter! THat’s a great idea and the money it must save too!

  9. I think zero-waste and homesteading go so well together. We have to use up and reinvent what we have!

    1. Author

      I couldn’t agree with you more!

  10. Great ideas! We are definitely trying to work our way towards less waste – we gave up paper towels, compost, cook from scratch, etc. I love so many of these suggestions and can’t wait to try some of them out!

    1. Author

      Sounds like you are well on your way!~!Keep up the great work and thanks for stopping by!

  11. Instead of buying those beautiful market baskets – $30.00 is a considerable outlay for me, (I have to think carefully before I let those copper piggies go without squealing), why not make your own by repurposing your old jeans?

  12. we can’t compost here as it gets to smelly in Dubai with the heat, we never use paper plates of plastic cups. We do use old jars for storage but there’s only so many one can keep #goinggreen

    1. Author

      What a shame you cannot compost! I’m not sure what a solution to that would be. Do you garden? What do you use to enrich the soil?

  13. So many great ideas here and you don’t even have to have a homestead to do many of them! Many of them remind me of what we did when I was a child – we really need to embrace some of these “old-fashioned” ideas, for the sake of the planet – sometimes looking back is the way forward! A great post to add to #GoingGreen – thank you.

    1. Author

      I will absolutely add this to #GoingGreen and thanks for the wonderful comment! I wish everyone would go back to the old way of doing things and maybe learn a new appreciation to life!

  14. Zero waste is definitely a goal, but so far we’ve been focused on food waste and of course plastics. I truly respect those who make it their mission to discard absolutely nothing, but with the kids and life as it is, a zero waste approach just isn’t a practical use of our energies at this time. Maybe when we send the last kid out into the world we can reassess.

    1. Author

      You don’t have to be completely zero-waste! Remember every bit matters, and bit you do is a great start!

  15. So much great info here – something that everyone can use to be more green and eco friendly.

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