Zero Waste Marin Logo

Image ©Emily Hagopian

Zero Waste At Home

Recycle symbol with the 4 Rs of Zero Waste around it in a circle: Reduce, reuse, recycle and rot

Looking for ways to reduce waste at home? A good place to start is by remembering the “4Rs” framework: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (Compost). These four “Rs” are in that order for a reason! It is most important first to think about how we can reduce waste before it is created, then consider how to reuse what we already have, before what we can recycle and rot (compost).

Click through the tabs below to explore ways to integrate zero waste principles at home!


Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste at Home

When shopping, look for ways to avoid unnecessary packaging:

  • Handpick your fruit and vegetables from bins and barrels and place them directly in a reusable shopping bag or produce bag.

  • Shop the bulk food section! Rice, pasta, flour, and even nut butters are becoming common items included in bulk sections at grocery stores. Bring your own containers and avoid the packaging!

  • Check out your local refill store! Refill stores carry beauty and cleaning products such as shampoo, detergents, soaps, and more – bring your own refillable containers and take products home without the waste!
Bulk Food in Glass Jars; example of reducing plastic

Bring your own containers!

Ready to start shopping at bulk or refill stores? Check out this list of bulk and refill stores in Marin! 

Know of a bulk or refill store not on this list? Contact us at

Bulk Grocery Dry Goods

Home Goods & Toiletries

Tips to Reduce Junk Mail at Home

Help reduce the amount of paper wasted in Marin each year and get rid of the headache of unwanted junk mail. Go paperless by removing your name from mailing lists, opting out of catalogs, and more.

  • When you receive a credit card offer, company catalog, newsletter, or coupon booklet that you did not request, immediately contact the sender and ask to be removed from their mailing list.

  • Contact your bank, credit card company, internet service provider, utility provider, homeowners’ association and/or landlord to inquire about paperless billing and email notifications.

  • For a how-to guide on how to opt out of various junk mail services, check out the Bay Area Junk Mail Reduction Campaign and electronically download a Stop Junk Mail Kit.
Junk Mail Envelopes in a pile

Get off those lists!


Tips to Prioritize Reusables

Reuse refers to using an item we already have in order to prevent the need to buy or use something new. Single-use items such as paper coffee cups, plastic utensils, and single-use plastic water bottles contribute to the proliferation of waste. Even worse, these items require natural resources, manufacturing, and transport to the consumer and then are usually disposed of in minutes or hours.

Consider these tips for incorporating reusables into your daily life:

  • Keep a utensil kit with you: In your most-used bag or purse that comes with you to work or on errands, make sure you have a utensil kit with you! Having reusable utensils on hand ensures you can avoid single-use plastic utensils.

  • Remember your thermos: did you know that paper coffee cups are lined with plastic to avoid leaks? These cups must be landfilled and are only used for minutes. Skip the trash and commit to bringing a reusable mug or thermos with you to the coffee shop!

  • Keep a set of reusable grocery bags in your car or by your front door at home so you remember to bring them with you to the grocery store!

  • Bring your reusable water bottle with you so you don’t need to buy a plastic water bottle.
A woman with a reusable bag reaches for flowers from a vendor at the Marin Farmer's Market
Image ©Emily Hagopian

Don’t forget your bag!

Tips to Promote Reuse in Clothing

Hands sewing or repairing jean pants

Repair your clothes!

The average American bought 68 new items of clothing in 2018; with online shopping, fast fashion and its promotion of microtrends, and social media “hauls” of clothing, our consumption of clothing has skyrocketed. On top of this, the average clothing item is worn less than 7 times before being discarded. Adopt a “reuse” mindset when it comes to clothing to reduce environmental impact and waste!

  • Host a clothing swap with your friends or community members! Have attendees bring 5 – 10 items that are in good condition and shop your friends’ closets! Go home with something “new” to you!

  • Shop secondhand! Visit your local thrift store to look for clothing items that can be given a new life.

  • Learn to mend! Ripped a hole in your favorite jeans? Pick up a new skill and take up mending – learning how to fix your clothing will ensure it can continue to be used.

  • Shop your closet! Do a closet assessment and fall in love with items you might have forgotten you had. See if you can style what you already own in a new way!

  • More resources on clothing are available here:


Tips on Correct Recycling & Composting

Check out our tips below to ensure you are recycling and composting correctly!

  • Know your waste hauler’s rules! There are 5 different waste haulers in Marin – make sure you know who picks up your waste, and what they accept in recycling and compost. Don’t know who your hauler is? Find your hauler here.

  • Make recycling and composting as convenient as trash: set up a “sorting station” in your home where recycling, compost, and trash are all located close together. This helps to ensure that correct sorting is easy and convenient, and increases the chances that people in your household will actually sort waste.
    • Better yet, add color-coding and a label!
Child in red overalls stands in front of the Zero Waste Marin table looking at flyers

Make recycling a family affair!

Why Recycling & Composting are Important

Fights Climate Change

When food scraps, yard waste, and soiled paper go to landfill, they produce methane gas – a powerful heat-trapping gas that contributes to climate change. By composting, we avoid these emissions and also help to create healthy soils.

Saves Natural Resources

When we use paper, aluminum foil, or glass bottles, we are also using natural resources. Recycling ensures we can use what we have already extracted from the Earth.

Reduces the Need
for More Landfills

If we do not separate our waste, our landfills will fill up much more quickly and we will have to dig new ones.

It’s the Law

Check out our section on Legislation to read more about State waste laws.