Zero Waste – a room by room guide

So, what is “zero waste”?

For us at EarthSavvy HQ, "zero waste" means sending as little waste to landfill as possible.  Our family of three used to send a standard-sized rubbish bag to landfill once a fortnight. It now takes us a couple of years to fill a wheelie bin.  Yes, we recycle, but recycling is not a magic bullet – it’s a hugely energy-intensive and polluting process where some products (we’re looking at you, plastic) are down-graded into lower quality products and will eventually end up in landfill.  So, recycling is not the best option.

But, never fear...the 6 R’s are here to save the day!

In order, they are:

Here’s a room-by-room rundown of the changes we’ve made so far on our journey to zero waste.



Pantry goods from the bulk store using EarthSavvy reusable bulk food bags and jars/containers

Fruit & veges from the fruit & vege shop using EarthSavvy reusable produce bags & BYO tofu container.  For anything that isn't available package-free, we ask for not-yet-packaged produce from the packing room (our wee troop enjoys a plant-based diet, however, if you do eat meat, bringing your own container to your local butcher is totally doable)  

Bread from the local bakery in BYO bag 

Takeaways using BYO containers

Alfresco dining using BYO containers, picnic set and EarthSavvy travel (folding) cutlery set

Restaurant food:  request “no straw or disposable items, please” and have a container at the ready for any leftovers


Home cookin’…

These are some of the pantry staples we make at our place:




Food waste…

Compost!  So easy, free (after initial compost bin purchase) and great for your garden.  For those in Aucklandtown, check out the free composting workshops run by The Compost Collective [bokashi and worm farms are a great option for apartment-dwellers].  Food scraps collections are also available in some areas - check with your local council.


Compostable bamboo dish brush

EarthSavvy cotton cleaning cloths

Homemade spray cleaner

Ecostore bulk refill dishwashing liquid (available at various bulk stores)

Ecostore dishwasher tablets



Compostable Go Bamboo toothbrushes

Solid Oral Care toothpaste or homemade toothpaste (2 T coconut oil, 1 T baking soda + a few drops spearmint oil)
Solid bar soap
Ethique shampoo bars

Cloth toilet wipes (being used part-time…not fully committed!)…we have a simple, clean system – used wipes are popped into a lidded bin next to the loo and then thrown in the wash.  No smell…no waste…easy as.




Greencane recycled sugarcane/bamboo toilet paper

Homemade air freshener

Lunette menstrual cup

Cloth panty liners

Cloth tissues/hankies

Ethique solid deodorant

Stainless steel safety razor



Eco Planet laundry powder

EarthSavvy cotton cleaning cloths

Homemade spray cleaner

Homemade “Jif” cleaning paste

Drain cleaner:  white vinegar & baking soda from bulk store with BYO containers

Reusable cloth vacuum cleaner bag



(When Savvy was a bub, we used the following…)

Cloth nappies:  Real Nappies purchased secondhand on TradeMe

Baby wipes:  cotton washcloths



Purchased secondhand on TradeMe – if not available for local pick-up, we request plastic-free packaging.

Gifts are usually either secondhand, homemade or “experience gifts” (vouchers for massage etc.).  Buy Nothing Christmas

For gift wrapping, we either reuse paper/boxes we already have or use the furoshiki fabric wrapping method.


Our wee troop has been working towards zero waste for over nine years now. One step at a time. 


Reusable products to help you reduce your household waste are this-a-way.

And, while you're here, feel free to have a gander at our blog.


    For loads more helpful zero waste tips, join the 30,000+ other kiwis in our facebook group, Zero Waste in NZ!