zero waste melissa ambrosini

Simple But Genius Hacks To Reduce Your Waste






Most of you who have followed me for a while will know I am a conscious consumer and I don’t like waste. I also try to not use plastic and try to limit my waste and carbon footprint as much as possible. I’m not telling you this to get an award. I simply want to share how I have done it. 

You see, I’m in love (actually I’m obsessed) with Mother Earth, and I want our children’s children’s children to get to witness the beauty we have today. But at the rate we are going, this may not be the case. So I beg you to take stock of how you are living and try a few of the suggestions below to live a little more consciously. It all starts with you and making these small shifts, you WILL make a massive difference. 

So here are some suggestions…

For The Kitchen:

  • Never buy bottled water. Just don’t. Get a water filter and reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle and fill up your water before you leave the house. It’s a million times better for your hormones AND the environment.
  • If you go out for coffee, please take your own reusable cup.  
  • Use glass Pyrex containers or stainless steel to store your food, not plastic. Plastic wreaks havoc on your hormones and seeps into your food, so it’s best to avoid it altogether. But don’t throw out your plastic Tupperware — use it to store lego, blocks, pegs, or any small items around the house.
  • Reuse all your glass jars for storage. Never throw out glass jars, they always come in handy.
  • Shop at your local farmers markets and bring your own basket. Or shop at your local bulk store like @thesourcebulkfoods and take your own jars and bags. [Hot tip: always keep bags or your basket in your car so you never get caught out and have to resort to plastic bags.]
  • Grow your own food — even if it’s just a few herbs on your window sill. It’s my dream one day to have a huge veggie and herb garden with loads of fruit trees too. 
  • Stop buying cling wrap or foil and use beeswax wraps and eco lids instead. 
  • Once you have finished your dishwashing powder or liquid, take that bottle to the bulk store and fill it up or make your own. 
  • Make your own cleaning products using essential oils. It’s way cheaper, and better for your health and the environment.
  • Get reusable cloth washcloths instead of disposable ones. And ditch sponges in favour of compostable scrubs or brushes.
  • Instead of buying bin bags, put newspaper in your bin and pop your food scraps in there, or buy biodegradable bags, or use no big bags at all and wash out your bin after each use. (It’s really not that hard.)
  • Use washable tea towels instead of paper towels.
  • Use washable bamboo, stainless steel or glass straws (never plastic).
  • When you go out, take your cutlery with you so you don’t have to get and eat off plastic. You do not want to be putting plastic in your mouth.
  • Don’t buy any food in packets or plastic. Try to limit single use plastic as much as possible.
  • Store your food correctly so it lasts longer and you never have to throw anything out. We don’t throw out food — it’s one of my number one pet hates. And if you store your food correctly, you won’t have to. Use the veggie draw in your fridge for your greens and put a wet tea towel over them to keep them fresh and to last longer, it works a treat.  
  • Pack your own lunch so you don’t have to eat out — better for you, your wallet and the environment.
  • Reduce your meat consumption to only once a day, or try ‘Meatless Mondays’, or ‘going weekday vegetarian’, or even ‘weekday vegan’. If you do purchase animal products, please make sure they’re organic, grass fed and finished, pastured, biodynamic and free from hormones, pesticides and any other chemicals they want to add to it. 
  • Store veggie scraps in the freezer. When you’ve got a good few handfuls saved up, boil them in filtered water to make a yummy stock or broth. 
  • Always run a full dishwasher — don’t put it on for just 3 things.
  • Take part in a community garden.
  • Compost. 

For The Bathroom: 

  • Use a biodegradable toothbrush and hair brush.
  • Make your own toothpaste, toner, face wash, cleanser etc using essential oils and store them in the glass jars you saved… see I told you they would come in handy.
  • Fill your body wash up at the bulk store and use less, or use a bar of soap (which means less packaging).
  • Instead of tampons, use a Moon cup. If you are going to use tampons, please make sure they are organic, as cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops and you don’t want that inside you.
  • Use moon pads — like so many of these ideas, they are way better for your health, your wallet, and the environment. Did you know that most women spend on average $120 on tampons and pads per year? That’s a lot of money you could be saving by using reusables — at least $1,200 per decade.
  • Buy recycled loo paper that’s packed in paper (not plastic), and use less paper. Ladies, for a number 1 try and use three squares only, number 2 try five. That’s your homework 😉 
  • Use less of your products. You don’t need a massive squirt of this and that. Cut it right back and use more consciously to make it last longer.
  • Instead of buying cotton pads to cleanse your face or take off your eye makeup, use an old shirt and cut it up into small circles or squares then wash them after use. Or use a face cloth.
  • Tissues… you don’t need them! I haven’t purchased a box of tissues since 1989. If you need to blow your nose, do it in the shower, use a hanky or use some loo paper and stop buying tissues today.
  • Use silicone reusable bags instead of zip lock bags. Stop buying plastic zip lock bags today and if you already have some wash them out and reuse them.
  • Use a waterpik instead of buying dental floss.
  • I don’t own cleanser and just use a face cloth instead to cleanse my face.
  • Make your own shampoo and conditioner or refill your bottles at the bulk store and wash your hair once a week like I do if you can. 
  • Switch from a plastic disposable razor to a metal safety razor.

Your small actions each day CAN make a difference to our Mother Earth.

For The Laundry:

  • Do the smell test and only wash your clothes when they are actually dirty, not after one use.
  • Use soap nuts for washing clothes or fill up your washing powder at the bulk store or make your own and store in old jars. 
  • I haven’t bought fabric softener in about 15 years and you actually don’t need it. If you like the smell, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil in with your load. I use lavender. 
  • You don’t need dryer sheets so stop buying them.  
  • Always run a full load of clothes, don’t put it on for one towel. 
  • Wash with cold water. Unless you’re washing dirty nappies or especially grubby towels, you don’t need hot water. Save electricity by choosing cold.

For The Home:

  • Make everything last as long as possible — furniture, objects, gadgets, cookware, everything. This is one of the best ways to save the earth. It also makes you a more conscious consumer. Next time you’re about to buy something, think to yourself: ‘This thing is going to become part of my home for *at least* the next decade… do I really need it?’
  • Use washable and reusable cloths for cleaning.
  • Use a steam mop — that way you don’t have to buy new heads for your mop when it gets gross.
  • Instead of single use baby/wet wipes, cut up an old towel or clothes and use them instead. You can also buy washable organic cloths especially for this purpose that are nice and gentle on baby’s tush.
  • Stick to the motto reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse.
  • Put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox.
  • Turn old sheets and towels into handkerchiefs, rags, napkins, baby wipes and cloth produce bags.
  • The next time a light bulb blows, change over to more cost effective and energy efficient ones.
  • Turn off all the lights, water and WiFi when not in use and especially when you go on holidays.  

For The Office:

  • Go paperless in your office and home. We don’t own a printer and run 3 businesses from home.
  • Go paperless for all your bills. Most banks etc will email you the statement, you just need to set that up online.
  • You don’t need the latest phone and computer if yours are still working fine.
  • Use rechargeable batteries and stop using single use ones. 


  • Swap clothes with friends or shop at second hand stores.
  • Swap books with friends or go to the library. 
  • Shop and sell on Gumtree, Craig’s List or Facebook. This is an especially great option for furniture, kids toys, homewares and more.
  • Buy less and always ask yourself before you purchase something; ‘Do I really need this? And does it bring me joy?’
  • Never throw away anything. Give it to a friend or someone in need. Circulate, circulate, circulate. 
  • Find things for free on Gumtree, Facebook or Craig’s list. You’ll be amazed at what’s on there.
  • Don’t go to the shops. Avoid them if you can. That way you won’t buy things you don’t really need.
  • Instead of buying plastic dog poop bags, use a leaf or stick instead. 
  • Adopt the ‘no gift’ rule. In our family, we believe in experiences instead of things for birthdays or Christmas. 
  • Don’t do ‘joke’ presents EVER — there’s nothing funny about a plastic reindeer which poops jelly beans that’s headed straight for landfill. Waste of money and not good for Mumma Earth. 
  • Try cloth nappies or at least biodegradable ones.
  • Ask friends to borrow things before purchasing. If you need a leaf blower as a one-off, don’t go and buy one, ask your friend or neighbour first. 
  • Fix things before you buy new.
  • Ask for no plastic and reused packaging materials for online orders. 
  • Wrap presents in newspaper or old paper you have been gifted, never buy wrapping paper that is going to be put straight in the bin. 
  • Avoid receipts when out. Ask if one has to be printed. Sometimes they do, but not always! Also, receipts are full of BPA and you don’t want to be touching them. I get the cashier to place it on the counter, I take a photo (which gets uploaded to Receipt Bank) then they discard it and I haven’t had to touch it. 
  • Car pool, walk or bike as much as you can. 
  • Vote with your dollar. Reward companies who are minimising plastic and packaging by becoming a loyal customer. Share your positive eco experiences on social media.
  • Speak up. Ask your favourite shops to stop using excess packaging. If we don’t demand change, it won’t happen.

Make sure you also check out the Plastic Paradise Movie.

There you have it! Now I would LOVE to hear from you. Do you have anything to add to this list? Let’s make a massive list that we can all come back to to get inspiration. 

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Hi Gorgeous, I'm Melissa.

Multiple bestselling author, #1 podcast host and TEDx speaker.



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