A Day in the Life of a Zero Waster

This was published on THE BULK HOUSE's Official WeChat Account on 10th October 2017

Through exploring a minimalist lifestyle, I came upon the zero waste lifestyle, and from that moment I realized that this is the way I want to live. Like minimalism, zero waste gives you a real idea of what you need to in life and what you don't. The zero-waste lifestyle advocates not only refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, recycle and rot, it also emphasizes the reduction of waste from the source.

Source: THE BULK HOUSE | My daily necessities


Habits from my past

Everyone has their own story, and this is mine. Before moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle, I aimed for less by subtracting things that were clogging up my life and in turn, this just made life better. I recommend getting rid of unnecessary things in your life and keep only what is necessary for your life (and I never mean to preach. Try it. If you like it, great! If not, keep all the things you currently have. It is not for everyone). So that was minimalism, next came zero waste. Minimalism encapsulates an element of zero waste and that is the 2nd R in my logo, Reduce. However, I was in violation of 6 R's principle advocated by zero wasters, as I was still living in the way that is normal for most people nowadays and that was producing a lot of waste on a daily basis.

Every day I produced waste, this went into the garbage and like magic, this disappeared from my life and I never saw it again. Throwing away rubbish for me at that time was of no great importance to me.

Source: Baidu images
Have you ever thought about where does all our rubbish go?


The present state of my daily life

It was the summer of 2016 when I was first exposed to the zero-waste lifestyle, the consumption part of life has dramatically changed, for example, I have reduced the waste produced in my home, reducing my carbon footprint, I now bring out with me my own cutlery, water bottle and shopping bags. Next in this article, I will go into more detail and brief you on what is now a very standard day for me as I practice a zero-waste lifestyle.

2 friends laughing. Wooly sheep (left), Carrie (right)



Life in Beijing for me means dryer skin than what I am sued to. In order to keep the skin soft and smooth, we need to take a sufficient amount of water per day to maintain the body's moisture balance. 

Cleaning my face:
1st: clean with hot water to open pores
2nd: wash the face with your chosen face wash
Finally: rinse your face with cold water to tighten the pores
This simple technique was taught to me by a good friend of mine from England who worked in skincare for The Body Shop. Thank you, Annabel!
After patting my face dry I then use 3 things: a water spray, followed by Coconut oil (which I also apply to my arms and thighs) and then a home-made moisturiser.

Daily cleaning products



Whether at home or out n about meeting with perhaps some important people (side note; what makes someone important?), I feel it is important to feel comfortable and confident. What I am trying to say here is don't deliberately take care of yourself for the sake of others, do it for yourself first and so feel confident even when at home. Care about yourself because you want to make yourself happy. If are going to work from home that day, still get washed, dressed and comfortable and feel ready for any occasion.

Source: THE BULK HOUSE | Daily beauty products



It is said that breakfast is the most important meal, it definitely makes a huge difference to my efficiency in the morning if I at least get some food into my body.

In order to be able to eat breakfast, I usually keep it really simple, for example, fresh juice with some bread. Alternatively, go out for a walk to a nearby coffee shop to buy a cup of coffee and bread to open what will not just be a busy day but also a fulfilled and efficient one. Going out for a walk certainly adds another level of happiness to my day. 

Source: Baidu images
When you order coffee, inform the server to not use a "paper" cups. Often these "paper" cups have a plastic coating and cannot be recycled or composted. Also, a cup of coffee in a real cup is much nicer. "Slow down, don't dance so fast."


Dish detergent

Try homemade cleaning supplies, so far the results from my homemade products have been pretty good, but there is definitely room for improvement. I do this to cut back on the use of plastic in my apartment. However, if you don't want to make your own but want to reduce the amount of plastic waste in your home, take the more convenient route and reuse a bottle (it doesn't have to be glass, that is just what I prefer, reusing a strong plastic bottle is still moving in the right direction!) and go to the farmers' market to buy bulk cleaning liquid.

The benefits of homemade dish detergent: economical, environmentally friendly and you can adjust the ingredients to find the right balance and scents for you.


Source: Lily's handmade | bulk supplies!
Every weekend at the Farm 2 Neighbors market in the basement of the Grand Summit next to Liangmaqiao subway station.



When I had a full-time job there was always the annoying moment of where to eat as around my office there weren't many good places to eat or once we found some good places, strangely they would be shut down a short period of time, just my luck! My colleagues and I wouldn't want to eat in the same restaurant 5 days in a row so to cope with this situation I used to prepare food the night before and this is something I still sometimes do.

Source: Baidu Images
I actually have very similar lunch boxes to these. They are great!


On other occasions would go on a small adventure and travel far from our office to have something new. This is good for the tummy and also gives you a chance to stretch your legs. On top of this, it means we are not ordering food in that will have lots of plastic packaging.

Try your best to reduce the number of disposable products, before heading out bring with you your own reusable cutlery. 



As I took the zero waste lifestyle from one step to the next I gave away a trash bin I almost never used to my neighbour so then I had no place to throw away rubbish. It is a great way to limit yourself. But, sure, you need to build up to that, giving away all your bins on day of one of moving towards zero waste is probably not the best idea.

Then I took zero waste to another level and looked at the waste I produce once a month when aunt flow comes to stay and so I want to share with you the alternative products I have moved to, which is a washable cotton sanitary pad and a menstrual cup. 

Source: THE BULK HOUSE | you will no longer need disposable sanitary pads.


Zero waste grocery shop

If I was to give one tip on what first to do to move towards a zero-waste lifestyle, that would be, bring your own shopping bags. A tote bag, mesh bags, muslin bags and an egg box (if you eat eggs). 

To reduce waste, use less plastic products


Wardrobe slimming

In the photo are (nearly*) all my clothes and shoes. The shoes in the green hanging thing are my summer shoes *I do have a few more shoes on my shoe rack by the front door.

As Autumn is here I plan to make a capsule wardrobe to get me through the autumn and winter, this is the minimalism side to zero waste. 

I now know that more clothes aren't better. Less is definitely more. Durable, beautiful and practical clothing is my goal!



In the past, I would come home after a busy day and just want to lay down and wouldn't want to think about cooking. Nowadays though I am more prepared and so I plan for this both in my weekly shop and in food preparation at home. To ensure this happens effectively I will make a shopping list before going out the door to buy groceries. I will then stick to the list to prevent impulse buying which is both good for my bank balance and my health. 

So now, I do 1 of 3 things: cook at home, eat out on my own or have dinner with friends.

Source: Baidu Images
Enjoy time with friends.


Bulk food buying

In China, to achieve zero waste, it can be very easy, you just need to find the right places and bring the right things. You can also shop like the other zero wasters in Europe and America. I find walking around your neighbourhood is the best thing to do, there are often little shops in communities in Beijing that don't have any packaging, just be sure to bring your own cotton bags and reusable jars. 

A grocery shop, hidden close to where I live, but I found it!


Really hungry but don't want to use plastic? Look for something in your bag you can use as an alternative. Here I used my cotton bag (which I made myself) to get some food from Moxi Moxi at the Block Party. I just asked for some paper to wrap the pitta bread in. I later put the paper in my compost bin. 


It's like going back to the old days

Jing-A recently opened a new location where the Big Smoke previously was. Not only do they brew their own beer there, but they also have all kinds of cocktails. They have done such a great job, it looks so cool and has a really fun and at the same time relaxing atmosphere there. Great place to go with a group of friends.

On their opening day, I brought my own bottle to get some Jing-A cider. I now like cider! I chose the Cider Republic.



Composting is an effective waste recycling process to reduce the pressure on landfills and surrounding areas. I recommend that put your weekly food waste in a big bowl and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer and then put it in your compost bin each week. It is estimated that 25% of the municipal solid waste in landfills could be composted.

Source: Baidu Images & THE BULK HOUSE

Zero waste tips

  • Get equipped (tableware, stainless steel straw, stainless steel water bottle, cotton shopping bag, food canister, etc.)
  • Reduce or refuse to use disposable products
  • Change consumer habits (such as ordering takeout or buying)
  • Reduce the waste of packaging (there is so much in minimalism)
  • Cook a good meal at home

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