How a Traditional Business Can Become Zero Waste

Written by
Iryna Komazova
August 18, 2022

Alongside the growing number of businesses that are directly connected to the zero waste lifestyle (read our recent articles for ideas), most enterprises still offer traditional goods and services. Adoption of zero waste practices by such companies will make a big difference in reducing waste pollution around the world. So, let’s look at some examples of how business-owners can be nature-friendly while still making money in a traditional way.


Cleaning services are often done with aggressive chemicals that pollute wastewater, and using plastic accessories. If you think about it, it’s a bit ironic that a service that’s supposed to clean actually makes the environment dirtier! In order to avoid this, cleaning businesses can implement sustainable practices such as these:

  • Using certified eco-friendly cleaning products with no harsh chemicals or microplastics;
  • Choosing refillable brands of cleaning products;
  • Recycling cleaning product packaging where not refillable;
  • Using plastic-free cloths and mops;
  • Minimising water consumption;
  • Saving energy by turning off all electrical appliances when not used.
Man holding cleaning supplies
Zero waste cleaning is more than using products in recyclable bottles

Take-Away Food and Meal Delivery

People’s busy schedules and desire to save time on cooking have made takeaway food and meal delivery extremely popular. But in most cases, the amount of waste produced by such a dinner is enormous. Every dish needs its own container, often with tiny sachets of sauce, salt and pepper on the side. Biodegradable and compostable packaging doesn’t help either, —read our previous article to find out why. The eco-transformation of this type of business is hard, but possible! These things will make takeaways greener:

  • Giving customers the option to refuse single-use products (cutlery, napkins, chopsticks, etc.);
  • Motivating customers to take food away in their own containers;
  • Introducing a container deposit system for individual orders, where people pay for reusable food containers but then get their money back when returning them;
  • Delivering food for corporate events in reusable containers;
  • Cooperating with businesses like Too Good to Go, to cut down waste from unsold food and surplus ingredients at the end of service.
Glass containers with food
Reusable containers are more eco-friendly than compostable ones

Event Planning

Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted in most countries and society is coming back to offline meetings and conferences. But the return of big events brings the return of big waste: single-use coffee cups, plates and cutlery, disposable napkins, decorations, flowers and marketing materials often go to landfill or are incinerated when the event is over. These zero waste event-planning practices can reduce the negative impact on the environment:

  • Decorating the space with reusable, recyclable or compostable decorations;
  • Digitising promotional materials and reusing/recycling physical ones;
  • Serving food with reusable tableware;
  • Composting food scraps from coffee breaks and the buffet.
Festive dinner
The sweetest moments mustn’t harm nature

Beauty Salon

The beauty industry helps people look however they like. But the planet doesn’t look any cleaner as a result of its services! The average beauty salon is filled with plastic bottles and plastic equipment. But making this kind of business greener is easier than it seems. Here’s how:

  • Choosing shampoos, masks, paints and other professional products in refillable or recyclable bottles;
  • Switching to plastic-free equipment (brushes, bowls, hairpins);
  • Refusing disposable towels, sheets and staff uniforms;
  • Choosing products without microplastic ingredients.
Man at barbershop
Disposable towels won’t make your customers more beautiful


Fast fashion is an extremely polluting industry at every step in its economic cycle. From sourcing and dyeing the material to changing the collections several times during the season, the whole process leaves tons of waste behind. But a professional stylist can help clients avoid covering the planet with waste, by:

  • Putting together a “capsule wardrobe” in which each item works well with the others, so you don’t need to buy excessive clothes and shoes;
  • Picking out sustainable clothes brands to shop with;
  • Buying beautiful clothes that will actually be worn rather than sitting on a shelf;
  • Helping find treasures in second-hand stores;
  • Opting for quality items that will serve the client’s needs for years.
Woman trying on shoes
Building a sustainable wardrobe is a new but demanded service


It may come as a surprise, but floristry is a highly unsustainable business. The flowers often travel across the globe to make someone happy for just a few days. CO2 is emitted during transportation, and harsh chemicals are used to make flowers of unnatural colours and keep them fresh for longer. In addition, tons of plastic wrapping are used during the delivery and at the flower shop. But a zero waste florist's shop is still possible, by:

  • Using local and seasonal flowers;
  • Offering house plants in plastic-free pots;
  • Minimising wrapping;
  • Using recycled paper wrapping and plastic-free bouquet decor;
  • Composting wilted flowers.
Woman holding sunflowers
Let flowers bring happiness not waste


In general, you can keep the waste that any business produces to a minimum. If you are already an entrepreneur and we didn’t mention your niche in this article, you can start your transformation by switching to e-receipts and online advertising, swapping out disposables for reusables, and recycling and composting your waste.

Incorporating zero waste principles into business practices must become the norm for every entrepreneur. Check out our examples and get inspired!
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