Despite its name, the zero waste lifestyle isn’t an all or nothing game. Here’s how to get started.

Much has been said and written about the zero waste movement in recent times. We’re sure you’ve probably read at least a dozen articles with its title closely mimicking “How I Fit X Years of Trash In This Jar” (accompanied, helpfully enough, by a photo of a smiling person holding up a tiny mason jar of trash). For those of us who throw out multiple supermarket bags full of trash every week, these headlines might seem like an unreachable ideal. But don’t dismiss the zero-waste lifestyle just yet!

After all, most zero waste advocates acknowledge that throwing absolutely no waste at all is an impossible ideal (that’s what the mason jar is for, right?). Still, while we might not be able to live an absolutely zero waste lifestyle, there are many ways we can and should reduce the amount of trash.

Ready to kick-start your journey? Here’s a beginners guide to living a near-zero waste life.

1. Refuse Single-Use Packaging

The simplest thing you can do is to avoid single-use packaging such as straws, plastic bags, and takeaway boxes. Grabbing your morning kopi? Use a tumbler instead of using a paper or styrofoam cup. Dabao-ing food back to the office during lunch? Bring a reusable container along. Buying bubble tea to #treatyoself? Consider silicon or metal straws, so you no longer have to use plastic straws. With plenty of reusable utensils and containers available in the market, taking on the zero-waste lifestyle is not as daunting as it seems.

2. Reduce Your Purchases

Here’s a tough question – do you really need all that you buy? Channel your inner Marie Kondo and ask yourself, ‘does it spark joy?’ the next time you shop! Be more mindful of your retail therapy sessions and avoid throwing an apparel out after having worn it less than three times (yes, this is a call out). After all, buying only what you need means throwing less and getting better mileage out of what you already own. Alternatively, you can also get clothes by upcycling, borrowing, or clothes swapping with your friends.

3. Recycle Your Trash

Be sure to recycle what you can! Keep an eye out for the blue recycling bins around your estate. It’s not necessary to sort them out – you can put paper, plastic, glass and even metal recyclables in the bins. If you can’t place them in the blue bins, you can look up e-waste recycling spots, second-hand goods collection points and cash-for-trash stations in your neighbourhood!

By being more conscious of the decisions you make, you’ll find yourself cutting down on the waste you dispose. Have more tips for living a (almost) zero waste lifestyle? Share them with us at!

  • Wong Li Ying

    Social media nerd who dabbles in writing, design, and photography. Spends an embarrassing amount of time on the internet, thinking too much about pop culture.

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