Zero Waste Your Vacuum


I’m pretty proud of my latest Zero Waste find.  But a little thought and research humbled me back into the broom closet.  So of these ways to Zero Waste your vacuum, my method is firmly in zero place until my machine sucks up its last Lego.

1a.  Go vacuum-less and use a broom.  The Zero Waste déesse Bea Johnson did.  Less energy consumption and frees up storage space.  But she doesn’t have carpets.  I don’t either but I do have almost a dozen thick rugs.  So I could…

1b.  Go vacuum-less and use a carpet sweeper.  No electricity needed, takes up less space than vacuum.  Less maintenance too.  Not going to help me dust the baseboards though.  And really only good for Cheerio removal, maybe not the weekly onslaught of dirt trucked into the house.

2a.  Bagless vacuum.  Good.

2b.  Bagless vacuum with a washable filter.   Better.

2c.  Bag vacuum with a….reusable bag.  Wait, what?!  You can get a cloth bag for your vacuum?  Maybe.

I found one while looking for replacement bags online.  Amazon inadvertently saved the earth some resources and me some money.  I’m not sure that was their intent.

With a reusable vacuum bag it’s a little easier to compost the contents.  Which in my case are probably spider remnants, brownie crumbs and refused broccoli spears which have most likely been composting in there all month long.

To empty the bag, pull off the clip on the end.  Open up the folded end and dump.  You should be able to spot anything inorganic – like a Strawberry Shortcake comb or plastic fridge letters.

Every now and then I’ll wash out the bag and the filter.  Return the bag and filter to the vacuum.

If you are going the electric route like me, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Buy a vacuum with some staying power.  I specifically asked for a professional vacuum.  One that is made to be used everyday by a house cleaner.  If you can afford it, buy a high-end vacuum.  They are made to last longer than your Japanese automobile whereas the big box models bank on you coming back every few years to replace your busted vacuum.

2.  Look for washable filters and bagless or reusable bag options.

3.  Get in the mindset of fixing your machine rather than replacing it.

When the wheel fell off my vacuum, my first thoughts was “Sweet!  Time for a new vacuum!” because who doesn’t love new stuff?  But it wasn’t economically feasible (read:  the hubs said “we can’t afford it”) so I was stuck with this functioning but broken vacuum.

But guess what else Amazon sells?

When it does die, maybe I’ll give vacuum-less living a shot.  But until then I will continue to employ my favorite house cleaner.  And by ’employ’, I mean exploit.


July 24, 2014

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



  1. IronMike

    Fembot keeps threatening about a new vacuum. When a commercial comes up for the Dyson vacuum that specializes in picking up animal hair, she looks at me and says "You better hope our vacuum never breaks, 'cause then I'm gonna buy that one."

    What she doesn't realize is I don't care if she buys an expensive vacuum. I've learned through many decades of life is that you get what you pay for.

  2. zerowastemommy

    I think if I was really dedicated I would haul out the rugs twice as week, shake them out best I could and call it an upper-body workout. Then cleaning the baseboards would take care of squats, right?


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