Does living in NYC and zero waste living really go hand in hand? Well, yes.

There are New Yorkers who have done and documented it. Meet Béa Johnson. Her family of four generates only a small jar of waste each year. I know, we can’t believe it either. If this gets a little part of you excited to try it out too in your shared apartment, then you’re in the right place. Read on for a realistic New York guide to start your zero waste journey.

“Refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse; and rot (compost) the rest.”

Bea Johnson on zero waste living in NYC

The key is to start slow and continue steadily. Take it a step at a time rather than trying to do zero waste life at once. The ultimate aim is a lifestyle that is both sustainable and comfortable to live. If you find it inconvenient, you are unlikely to stick to it in the long term.

To start out with, Roomi recommends the following tips.

Take stock of your buying habits

Carrying your own bag is a great start. The next step is being mindful about what you buy. Try bulk buying, so there’s no plastic packaging. Farmer’s markets often have products available that aren’t wrapped in plastic. Living in NYC also gives you access to some zero-waste stores, which makes sustainable shopping more straightforward.

Packaging takes up a lot of room in our waste-paper bins. So just by choosing products sold loose or with reusable packaging, you make a big difference!

Once you successfully practice zero waste shopping with your groceries, you can branch out. There’s a New York guide for almost everything, so it would be easy to find the right stores for sustainable shopping. Think clothes, cosmetics, and even vehicles.

Buy less. Choose well. Make it last

Vivienne Westwood

This could list could be useful: Stores In New York City For The Sustainable Shopper

Take tour of a zero waste store in NYC! This is a virtual visit to the Package Free Shop

Sign up for the NYC composting program

Living in NYC is turning eco-friendly. The city has committed to reducing overall landfill waste by 2030. We have the largest composting program in the country, open to over 3.5 m residents.

The city has also partnered with non-profit organizations to redistribute pre-loved and reusable items. Instead of ending up in a landfill, second-hand products reach those in need through donateNYC or Housing Works.

Alternatively, you can compost at home for your plant babies! Composting is easy-peasy and can be done in any space. Even in a shared apartment or a condo. Trust us- your plants will thank you for it! A detailed guide to Composting in a Small NYC apartment.

Enjoy delicious zero-waste meals

Photo from via Edible Manhattan

There’s a common misconception that those who practice sustainability are somehow ‘missing out’ on common experiences enjoyed by others. This may have been true to some extent at the beginning of the movement but no longer. With more and more people seeing the value of a mindful, sustainable lifestyle, even restaurants in the city are looking toward zero-waste functioning. So, when it’s safe to go out again, you can take a break from your shared apartment (finally!) and enjoy a meal out without compromising your chosen lifestyle.

New York Guide Alert – Edible Manhattan takes you through 8 Zero Waste Dishes Now On Restaurant Menus

As we said at the beginning of this handy zero waste New York guide, this is just a practical place to begin. There’s a lot more you can do. Everyone’s zero waste journey looks different.

We’re sure once you get used to thinking about the sustainability of your habits, you’ll automatically be more mindful of your choices. Good luck to you!

D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers understand the cost of living in NYC? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!