Easy Zero Waste Changes for Busy Families


Zero waste is one of those 2019 buzzwords that actually grabbed my attention. I spent a significant time in my youth focusing on “going green” and wanting to save the planet. I even had a neighborhood club (shoutout to Kings Grant and the 305!) where we raised money to save the rainforest. (I wonder who holds the deed to our few acres…hmmm.) I’d like to say I held tight to my reduce-reuse-recycle mantra, but if you’ve ever seen my yard on trash day, it’s a sad sight. I decided this was the year I’d make small changes and move toward “zero waste” living. 

So what is zero waste?

According to Wikipedia, Zero waste is reaching the goal of not sending any trash to landfills and reducing the consumption of plastic.

“But I have a busy family,” you say. Isn’t this even more of a reason to make changes? I started this process not knowing what to do first or how to make changes that were significant and sustainable for zero waste living. I’m happy to say we’ve embraced a zero waste lifestyle. Do I have only single bags of garbage on garbage pick-up day? Not a chance! But I have reduced a lot of our family waste, and that’s a start. Plus, my kids are now fully on board and more aware of the garbage we create.

Ways to reduce waste easily

Lunchbox Makeover

The most significant changes we made to move toward zero waste were with the kids lunches. We moved away from plastic lunch baggies by replacing them with reusable sandwich and snack bags. The first brand I used was Lunchskins. I loved how easy they were to use and clean.

The snack bag is great for small snacks but sometimes too small for some “bulky” snacks like Veggie Straws. Once I realized how easy using reusable was, got over my fear of moving away from plastic bags, and I needed something pretty. To add to our collection, I started using a work-from-home-Mom brand Alpine Eco Bags and OMG, they are adorable. I have a minor obsession with her prints. Jump on Etsy, search “reusable sandwich/snack bags” and the styles are endless. 

On super busy weeks, I keep paper sandwich bag brands by If You Care. I close them up with washi tape and write notes and doodles for my kids!

Shopping Changes

For all shopping, I’ve made a more conscious effort to take reusable shoppers with me. My biggest hangup with this change was always that carrying around bulky shoppers at all times was a huge pain. My mom changed this for me during Christmas when she gifted me reusable shoppers that actually zip into small pouches. Pair that with mesh produce bags and you are in business for reducing all those plastic bags you use for fruits and veggies. Once you’ve conquered this move to beeswax food wraps instead of plastic wrap! I just got mine in the mail but haven’t quite made that leap. 

Forgot all your bags? Ask for paper bags at check out! It may not be zero waste but it’s making a better choice by going paper versus plastic. 

Change Your Drinking Habits

Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to give up your wine! Try even easier zero waste changes. Take your reusable drink containers with you when you go out to avoid cups that will just be tossed away. If you forgot, just skip the plastic lid and straw. If you have them, take your own stainless steel or acrylic straws with you. Some brands come with their very own cases now! 

Rethink Coffee

But first, coffee! That was actually one of the first changes we made. We got rid of our drip coffee maker and moved to French Press and Pour-Over that has a reusable filter. If that’s too extreme, opt for biodegradable coffee filters. We’ve come to appreciate the process of brewing coffee and it takes about the same time as brewing a normal pot of coffee.

Just the Beginning

Of course there are a lot more things you can change. Here’s even more changes you can implement! 

  • Buy bulk dry good by the pound
  • Shop only fresh foods
  • Go to a you-pick farm 
  • Shop at a butcher who only uses paper 
  • Switch from dryer sheets to dryer balls
  • Switch from paper towels to regular towels
  • And napkins to cloth napkins
  • Need a bigger challenge? 
    • Choose tree-free toilet paper
    • Move to reusable feminine products

The options are endless and adopting even a few can make a big impact!

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A Florida native, Chenoa is originally from Miami but has been living in Maitland for 22 years with a short 2-year break where she lived in (and fell in love with) Raleigh, NC. She's part "adopted Southern charm" with a streak of feisty Miami girl! She's Mom to two strong-willed, preemie babies, a 25 weeker and a 35 weeker, who now are thriving big kids (6yr old girl and 3yr old boy). They have led to a hot mess parenting style that's fueled by coffee to get through the day and wine to try and soothe the nerves at night. She's married to her college sweetheart who she met at the University of Central Florida (GO KNIGHTS) while studying English-Creative Writing and the fine art of Greek life. She's a DIY junkie who loves Fixer Upper (of course), loves reading, cooking and writing. When out and about with her husband, sans kids, she loves eating at new local places around Winter Park, enjoying coffee from a favorite local coffee shop or enjoying a date night at Eden Bar in Maitland. Her adventures through motherhood have included recently transitioning from full-time working Mom to stay-at-home Mom, raising a sassy, hilarious little girl and helping her silly little guy navigate some developmental delays that have challenged her to slow down and let him guide her way. She hasn't lost hope that she can control all the things that parenting brings and her kids haven't given up trying to prove her wrong. Her husband is the Helicopter Parent to her Free Range which is the perfect topping to the chaos of everyday life! She frequents social media and uses her Instagram to document the fleeting moments of "put-togetherness" that occasionally happen by accident...sometimes.


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