Zero Waste Step #2: Use Up the Stuff in Your Home


This post is part of my “5 Steps to Zero Waste You Can Start NOW” series.

After you have gone through your home looking for stuff, the next step is to start consuming what you already own. Or more directly, “Don’t buy anything until you use up the stuff in your house.” *

Why are we doing this?

I think some of you might find that once you get a taste for Zero Waste you’ll want to jump in, head first, and inadvertently consume things thoughtlessly.  Why not USE up all your stuff first, get it in your head to consciously consume, and THEN jump in the deep end?

3′ snow = Ramen dinner


For food, you can employ the Three-Day Snow Storm drill. In January of 2016 we had a storm that shut down the community for nearly a week. With no grocery stores to run to, we started making stuff from what we had in our pantry:

  • pasta with partially-thawed frozen veggies and Kraft parmesan from the back of the fridge
  • tortilla-wrapped anything-found-in-a-can 
  • Ramen lasagna with pitted olives (just kidding, we still have the olives – no one wants to take that one for the team, but we did use up the Ramen)  

So go through your pantry like you would for a school a food drive, use up what you are willing, and donate the rest.

How about that quinoa you bought that one time a vegetarian family came over for dinner?  Time to make quinoa cereal for breakfast, quinoa salad for lunch and quinoa burgers for dinner.

Got some wilted veggies you can’t bring back to life? Freeze them and once you’ve collected enough scraps you can make veggie broth.


Definitely check out your freezer as well. I have containers of soup and spaghetti sauce that always get buried under the frozen fruit and veggies.

And tea. One day I’ll bring some quality loose-leaf tea into my life. But I can’t just yet – because apparently, with the stockpile I’ve collected,  I’m expecting QEII and her entourage to pop in.**


No need to learn how to make homemade toothpaste if you still have a dozen travel-size samples from your dentist.

How about that bottle of camomille bubble bath your BF brought over that time you were going through a rough patch (I noticed you had no problem using up the OTHER bottle of Shiraz she also brought over, you lush…)

Below are some hotel shampoos and a well-meaning gift of homemade body scrub. What are you going to do with all that product if you decide to give up shampoo? Use it up in the meantime.


Sticky notes, note cards, pens. Gather and use. Match lead to its corresponding mechanical pencil. No more BIC pens for awhile, you hear me? I love me a medium, blue ink BIC as much as the next nerd, but I have enough to get me through the decade.

How about journals?

Journals:  I’m down to less than a dozen!


Surely I’m missing some items. Send me ideas and I’ll add them here. 

So while you do your research and contemplate some Zero Waste lifestyle changes, try to use up all the flotsam from your previous life.

One down, 28 to go!

* -Me

**If you thought QE stood for quantitative easing then you are obviously here by mistake.  Please do come back when it’s time for me to dump my Google stock, k?  Thanks. 

January 15, 2021

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



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