5 Simple Tips To Be Plant-Based and Low Waste

If you were diving into the world of plant-based eating you’ll probably notice that a lot of people who eat plant-based also try to be zero waste. This means that they work very hard to produce as little waste as possible.

As you adventure into the unknown you probably will feel as if plant-based eating and low waste living go hand-in-hand. Many people ask “do you have to be vegan to be zero waste” and vice versa and THAT is what we are talking about in this post.

RELATED: Tips For How To Go Plant-Based

I can understand how confusing and overwhelming it may be. I was there when we started this journey as well. But over the years I have learned a little bit more about the zero waste lifestyle as well as the plant-based lifestyle.

To make it all even more confusing there’s also the minimalist lifestyle which many times falls into the lives of those living plant based.


There are absolutely no requirements to living any specific lifestyle. YOU have the power to live a lifestyle that works for YOU and your family. 

  • Do you want to be strictly vegan in every aspect of your life? 
  • Do you want to be plant-based with the occasional animal product? 
  • Do you want to live a plant-based vegan diet AND be minimalist? 

Whichever combination of lifestyle you choose is 100% appropriate and acceptable! Not that you need permission from anyone. 😉 

You do not need to be zero waste to live a plant-based life and vice versa. 

However you may find that making more plant-based choices will lead to more zero-based choices. We have noticed this in our own lives and continue to see different changes every day.

To learn more about the items that we use that are reusable to prevent additional waste check out this article here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.


The idea around zero waste is that you send nothing or close to nothing to the landfill. Everything you use can be reused, recycled, or composted. Less trash = better for the environment.  Here is a great explanation from GoingZeroWaste.com.

Living zero waste is very different from one person to the next. 

Our family will never be zero waste BUT we are trying to minimize our waste. 


When it comes to living a plant-based lifestyle, most families strive to consume only whole-plant foods. 

Foods that come in packaging are not “ideal” and most foods that are in packaging, like oatmeal, beans, grains, etc, CAN be found without packaging as well.

RELATED: 12 Vegan Pantry Staples

For this reason, it can be almost instinctual that as you shop the outside aisles and fill your cart with beautiful fruits and veggies that you want to avoid adding the boxed and more importantly plastic to your cart. 

But the question remains, do you have to be low or zero waste if you choose to be plant-based? 

The answer here is no. Like I mentioned before, the combination of lifestyle YOU choose is exactly that; your choice. 

Our family does not live zero waste but rather we are striving to be more waste-conscious.

RELATED: Reusable Items That Save You Money & Create Less Waste

You absolutely can create tons and tons of waste on a plant-based diet just as you can on any diet.  Additionally, there is no “rule” in the plant-based world that you must also be low or zero waste. 

If you are new to the lifestyle though and you find yourself wanting to do more and make more environmentally conscious choices, I have some tips for you!

Tips For Being Plant-Based And Low Waste

Before we jump into these tips I want to remind you that you do not need to be low waste or zero waste if you are following a plant-based diet. These tips are simply for those who want to make more earth-conscious choices. If that is not you, that is okay.

Wall of produce without packaging in a California Whole Foods

1. Purchase Produce Without Packaging

Try to select produce that is not in packaging and if you choose no packaging DON’T put it in those plastic grocery store bags. Instead, use something like this.  We love using reusable bags for both our produce and our groceries as a whole.

We definitely aren’t perfect at this but anything is better than nothing!

2. Grow Your Own Food If You Can

Anything you can grow on your own saves the environment and actually helps the environment is many ways. Even if it’s one tomato plant or a pot of herbs, growing a garden has great benefits to the world.

RELATED: Planning Our Vegetable Garden – What We Grow

If you have a small space outside or even no space, there are definitely things you can still do. A small windowsill garden can grow lettuce and herbs or you can use a grow system like the Aerogarden or go big with this Indoor Hydroponic System.

Bulk bins on a wall at whole foods containing grains, nuts, and seeds

3. Shop Bulk Bins

Find a store that offers grains, beans, legumes, seeds, etc, in bulk bins.

Then you can bring your own jars to be filled. With this tip you might find it challenging to find stores that offer this option.  Where we live, in the midwest, there is only one store that I can think of that offers this option and its location is not necessarily close to us. 

4. Make Foods From Scratch

Making foods like bread, baked goods, and plant milks can help cut down on waste from vehicles (from traveling to deliver the store-bought products), food waste, and packaging.  This is a great way to avoid unnecessary containers that can’t be recycled at all places. 

Remember that you do not need to be perfect but every change helps. If you want to try making your own plant milk, check out these recipes.

5. Choose Smart Packages

If you can’t avoid waste-free packages, look for smart options such as recyclable or compostable containers. The best options being cardboard or compostable materials. Choosing these over plastic helps in big ways.
Not only will disposal of these items be better for the earth but in many cases, you can more easily store your produce in these packages for longer compared to plastic.


If you follow a plant-based diet, do you also try to create less waste? Do you think there is a correlation between plant-based and zero waste?

More from Realistic Plant-Based Mama:

Vegan Grocery Staples During Quarantine

6 Foods to Help You Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

5 Foods To Help Your Kids Go Plant-Based

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