Whether you're a zero waster or just trying to cut back, these zero waste disposal ideas will help make sure you're getting rid of things in the most planet-friendly ways possible.
Zero waste disposal options - person donating items
Credit: Yeji Kim

The zero waste movement is built on the concepts of reducing and reusing in order to limit the amount of stuff that ends up in landfills. But what about those items that are already in the house, or that can’t be reused? That’s where zero waste disposal options come in. These are the most sustainable ways of getting rid of possessions that are no longer needed, for whatever reason, and getting in the habit of using them can move anyone closer to leading a zero waste lifestyle.

When new uses for old things aren’t an option, anyone who doesn’t want an overly cluttered home but also wants to try to keep as much out of landfills as possible can turn to these zero waste disposal options as the next step. Research services and drop-off sites in the area and pack up those need-to-go items—getting rid of them might feel even better with the knowledge that they’re not heading straight to a landfill.


Clothes, shoes, and other possessions that aren’t being worn anymore—whether the fit, style, or usefulness is in question—are best taken to the nearest donation center. (Put that zero waste philosophy to work looking for opportunities to reuse, make them hand-me-downs, or repair first, of course.) Before loading up the car and making the trip, do a little research on the facility to find out what, if anything, they do with unclaimed cast-offs. If they’re going to take things straight to the landfill, those possessions might be better off taken somewhere else.


For organic materials—think food waste, paper products, and the like—consider learning how to compost and starting a bin in the yard. If that’s not an option, look into community compost centers; a local school, community garden, or other public space probably has one that accepts compost materials.


Recycling isn’t the cure-all to plastic waste everyone once hoped it was—91 percent of plastic trash isn’t recycled, according to National Geographic, and cities across the United States are actually getting rid of their recycling programs, according to Vox—but trying to use the system is better than nothing. Read recycling symbols carefully, check community rules on what can be recycled, and try to make sure every recyclable item finds its way to an appropriate facility.

For items that don’t fall in any of these categories—and that can’t be repaired or put to a new purpose—a landfill may be the only option; but when it comes time to buying new ones, consider less wasteful replacements and try to shop second-hand as much as possible.