The average American produces 4.4 pounds of solid waste every single day. But what if you try radically reducing your impact…to zero? That’s what going zero waste is all about.

Zero waste living is a lifestyle dedicated to preventing waste and eliminating the culture of disposability. It’s different than waste management–the intent is to eliminate waste in the first place through the thoughtful reuse of products and other strategies like buying in bulk and composting.

The ideal goal is to produce no waste at all, but this is understandably challenging. If you’re a business dedicated to sustainability, you can take a page out of the zero waste philosophy’s book.

Ready to take daily actions to reduce your company’s waste? We’ve compiled important lessons from four of our favorite zero waste influencers that every business can learn from.

1. Refuse what your business doesn’t need

Bea Johnson is one of the most popular zero waste influencers around. She founded the Zero Waste Home blog, wrote the best-selling book of the same name, and speaks on the zero waste philosophy.

After adopting the zero waste lifestyle in 2008, Johnson’s home generates a quart-sized jar of landfill waste a year. Yes, that’s for the whole year–and her whole family.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to go from producing 4.4 pounds of waste daily to a quart a year overnight. Start by perusing Johnson’s 100 tips to reduce household waste.

Johnson’s philosophy can best be summed up with her 5 R’s: “Refuse what you do not need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse what you consume, Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce, or Reuse, and Rot (Compost) the rest.”

What this means for your business:

Your business can incorporate the “Refuse” principle into the everyday routine.

For example, your business can:

There are so many daily opportunities to turn down unnecessary items that will immediately be tossed in a landfill. These simple changes will help your business say goodbye to unnecessary trash.

2. It’s not about perfection; it’s about making better choices

Kathryn Kellogg, the author of the Going Zero Waste blog, shares her zero waste journey with disarming honesty.

Her motto, “it’s not about perfection; it’s about making better choices,” makes going zero waste accessible. This mindset shines through her posts, like a candid article on how to be zero waste at a non-zero waste party.

We like Kellogg’s philosophy because it’s approachable and realistic. In a Guardian piece on zero waste bloggers, Kellogg stated that “anyone can participate in waste reduction practices…it’s to what degree they can.”

What this means for your business:

Zero waste isn’t all about Instagramming a glass jar with your trash from the past year. Like Kellogg says, it’s about making simple, manageable choices that prevent waste each day.

Investigate sustainable businesses your company can partner with. For example, the TerraCycle Candy and Snack Wrappers Zero Waste Box is a great “better choice” asset to add to your office. Instead of banning all granola bars from your office, you can instead provide a simple way to recycle snack wrapper waste.

3. Going zero waste doesn’t have to be expensive

Florine Hofman is a zero waste influencer from Germany. She founded The Wasted Blog, which features a mix of zero waste tips and other lifestyle posts on sustainability and healthy eating.

Her mission is to show that zero waste living “doesn’t have to be expensive, isolating, or life-consuming. To the contrary! It can be fun, glamorous, and incredibly satisfying.”

Her posts provide a peek into her life and demonstrate that basic household items can easily substitute things you’re used to buying at the store.

What this means for your business: 

Your organization can switch to more sustainable strategies without sacrificing quality. For example, Hofman recommends cleaning your counters with vinegar and distilled water. If you can, try having your cleaning staff switch to these kinds of natural solutions. They’re cheaper, more sustainable, and just as effective.

Brainstorm other easy switches your business can make. If you’re a food service business that offers to-go containers, check out World Centric’s unbleached plant fiber to-go containers. They’re biodegradable, compostable, and affordable. Win-win-win.

No matter your industry, there are every day changes your office can make to reduce waste and save money.

4. Invest in zero waste essentials–but only if your business has to

Celia Ristow runs the Litterless blog and co-founded Zero Waste Chicago.

In addition to regular blog posts on topics like creating a zero-waste grocery kit and how to use up citrus peels, Litterless has a handy guide on zero waste essentials.

This list of essentials are items that “up the convenience or comfort of being zero waste.” It includes everything from a compostable bamboo toothbrush to mesh produce bags. Ristow includes comprehensive details on packaging, what it’s best used for, how to care for the item and detailed notes on how to dispose of it–with the landfill as the last resort.

However, Ristow notes that you absolutely don’t need to go on a shopping spree to purchase these items. Instead, “to go zero waste, you don’t necessarily need to invest in much, if any, new gear.”

What this means for your business:

When you’ve decided to take on some zero waste business strategies, host a team meeting. As a group, you can brainstorm ways your office can reduce waste and how you can do so with materials you already have.

Take advice from Ristow and plan ways your company can make changes without having to purchase new things. For example, your team can:

  • Bring in reusable tote bags to share with the office
  • Donate old mugs, plates, and cutlery to the office kitchen
  • Establish a “donate” bin that makes it easy for employees to bring in gently used clothes and other items to be delivered to Goodwill or the Salvation Army

There are so many small changes your company can make without having to purchase a ton of stuff. After all, that goes against the zero waste philosophy!

Feeling inspired and ready for your business to take on the zero waste philosophy? Learn more about the companies leading the charge in the zero waste movement.

Don’t forget to look to the RUBICONMethod, our six-step guide on recycling and waste reduction, for other helpful tips.