7 Ways to Bounce Back After a Zero Waste Slip Up

We’ve all been there. You set epic goals for the new year, then lose track of your vision after a few weeks. You commit to working out more, only to break your stride when life starts to get more complicated.

There is no person on this earth who hasn’t faced hiccups like this.

This summer, I’ve been struggling to stay on track with my zero waste goals. What started as a “just this once” situation on quickly morphed into wasteful habits that have been hard to re-break.

Vacations have disrupted our careful, zero-waste patterns, and lack of planning has started to make that conventional grocery store down the street look a lot more appealing than it used to.

Why am I telling you this? Because going zero waste is challenging! It’s very difficult to go against the grain and pursue a lifestyle that is totally countercultural.

Insecurities begin to creep in…Is this really making a difference? Is it silly to think I can actually cut plastics out of my life? 

Insecurities like these work hard to derail you. But don’t give up! There will always be instances when following your normal routine will be a challenge. You don’t need superhuman willpower, just a few strategies to help you get back on track. I’ll be following them too!  


Strategies to Get Back on Track After a Zero Waste Slip Up

1. Make zero waste living as convenient as possible.

It’s pretty hard to turn down a coffee, even after you’ve realized you left your reusable cup behind. Give yourself every opportunity to succeed by keeping zero waste items like this in your car. Other examples include grocery totes for shopping, a container for leftovers, and a reusable cutlery kit!

Read more: Building your Zero Waste to go Kit

2. Get reenergized with a little research.

Few activities will get me more excited about sustainable living than soaking up the wonderful advice from my zero waste community. Spend some time on zero waste blogs, or search the hashtags #zerowaste on Instagram for some added inspiration!

Read more: Must-See Documentaries on Sustainability or Must-Read Books on Sustainability

3. Start small. 

As I’m sure you’re well aware, I’m a huge fan of taking baby steps! I highly recommend starting back at the basics and taking zero waste living one step at a time rather than trying to do everything perfectly and getting overwhelmed. Just chose one habit to change this week and go from there!

4. Schedule new habits into your life.

Break out that calendar and give yourself a time and place for every major zero-waste activity: grocery shopping, recycling, etc. Doing this will help make zero waste activities second nature.

5. Accept that it’s okay to compromise sometimes.

Even the most successful zero wasters are familiar with compromise. Need to settle for a wrapped granola bar in a pinch? That’s fine. Just don’t eat one every day! Don’t have time to make it to the bulk store before dinner? Grab a box of pasta at the grocery. Just recycle it when you’re finished. 

Read more: Find Local Grocery Resources and Use Them

6. Get an accountability partner.

Whether it’s a spin class or a Skype date, having someone there waiting for you – expecting something of you – makes all the difference. You show up! Grab your best friend and invite them to take on the challenge with you. They’ll keep you accountable and encourage you when you’re struggling.

7. Ask for help.

There is no shame in being a beginner or asking lots of questions as you’re getting back on track. That’s why I’m here! Feel free to ask anything you’d like in the questions below.

Need a sounding board along your zero waste journey? Join a local community or online group to ask questions and make friends with common goals.


Where are you really struggling in you zero waste journey? Are you ready to get back in the saddle? Let me know in the comments below – I’m here!

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