Today’s blog post was written by my friend Tory from Tory Stender. Tory is a wellness lover, free spirit, and plant obsessed. She loves hiking, camping, and exploring the mountains. Tory shares lots about non-toxic lifestyles and natural solutions in your home. Don’t forget to check out her blog!
Practical ways to begin a Zero Waste Lifestyle
The zero-waste movement has gained a lot of traction over the years. Some people hear the word “zero” and feel overwhelmed! But these simple tips will get you started with practical ways to begin a zero-waste lifestyle!
A few tips to get started:
One of the most practical ways to begin a zero-waste lifestyle is to use what you have! You may have your eyes set on a new reusable water bottle that is advertised to be made of 100% recycled materials. But the reality is that the best way to reduce your waste is to use the water bottle you already own! Don’t get sucked into zero waste trends.
As I just mentioned, the best way to reduce waste is to use what you already have. Don’t get sucked into the zero waste trend by purchasing new popular “zero waste” products monthly. When it IS time to replace an item you own, look into a product that was sourced sustainably and isn’t heavily packaged in plastic! It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. When looking for ways to begin a zero-waste lifestyle don’t get hung up on the one product that you cannot find a zero-waste alternative for! You’re doing the best you can, and that’s enough!
REDUCE FOOD WASTE
This isn’t a trendy zero waste item but it’s one of the most significant sources of waste in our landfills! Many people believe that it’s ok to throw organic materials such as lawn waste or food scraps into the garbage because they will decompose anyway.
But the unfortunate reality is that those things likely will not decompose in a typical landfill. In order to decompose properly, you need bugs like worms and microscopic organisms which are not present in a landfill. Therefore, your banana peel actually just sits there for YEARS! When you become conscious of the amount of food waste you create, you’ll notice a significant decrease in your monthly trash!
REDUCE CONVENIENCE ITEMS
Plastic water bottles, prepackaged food, one-time use makeup wipes, even disposable diapers were all created to make our lives easier. I’m not saying that every single person needs to switch to cloth diapers, or you should never drink from another plastic water bottle.
These things have a time & place in our lives. Even if there is ONE “convenience” item that you can give up, it will make a difference! Ditch the makeup wipes and just use a facecloth. Take 30 minutes on Sunday to portion out your food for the week instead of purchasing the prepackaged version (this will likely also save you money!) Remember, this isn’t about being perfect – it’s about always moving forward and being better than you were yesterday.
COMPOST AND RECYCLE
Composting and recycling keep a huge percentage of materials out of our landfills! Composting can easily be done in your backyard. Otherwise, find a local farmer or backyard gardener who would be more than happy to accept your compost! Read up on your city’s recycling laws and become a responsible recycler! Many people assume that any glass, plastic, or paper can be recycled but unfortunately, that’s not the truth. Become familiar with your city’s recycling process to maximize your efforts!
When buying products like jams, salsas and sauces be mindful of the packaging they come in. Glass jars can be cleaned out and reused for leftovers, homemade sauces, or storing baked goods! One of the zero waste trends we get sucked into is the beautiful pantries with matching glass jars. But you don’t need fancy matching jars for effective storage. Any clean jar will work! So try to use what you have and avoid purchasing anything new.
DITCH PAPER TOWELS
Paper towels have become a necessity to many people. But did you know that they’re actually a new invention? People lived for thousands of years without the luxury of disposable paper towels – and you can too! If you’re in the habit of grabbing a paper towel to dry your hands or wipe up a spill, the best thing you can do is move the roll of paper towels to a less convenient spot.
Throwing an entire package of paper towels into the garbage would be wasteful! Instead, put the roll in a closet so you can still grab it in an emergency, but it’s not the first thing you reach for all day long. Replace your paper towels with reusable dishcloths and tea towels.
DITCH THE PLASTIC BAGS
You likely have a stash of reusable canvas grocery bags that you NEVER remember to bring into the store with you! Next time you forget your bags in the car, just skip the bags entirely! I’ll often just bring my bag-less groceries out to the car in the grocery cart. If I have bags in the car I’ll load them up in the parking lot.
If not, I’ll grab the bags when I get home to make carrying groceries inside easier. Or I’ll just pile all the groceries into my arms and struggle to the door (LOL). Don’t be tempted to buy new reusable bags every month! Remember, using what you have is the best way to reduce waste!
PACK A LUNCH – AND A COFFEE
If you don’t already pack a lunch for work, I’d really encourage you do so! Not only does it reduce waste, but it will save you money and will likely be a healthier option. Fast food or convenience food has created so much unnecessary packaging and it’s an easy fix! Our landfills and your wallet will thank you. Maybe you’re already mindful of packing yourself a lunch, but you still get a Starbucks coffee everyday.
Many coffee shops brag about having compostable or recyclable coffee cups, but how often does your cup just get thrown in the trash can? Remember how we talked about the fact that many organic materials don’t actually break down in a landfill?
If you truly can’t live without your daily coffee, make a rule for yourself that you always have to use a reusable coffee cup. I hope you enjoyed these practical ways to begin a zero-waste lifestyle.
I know that reducing your waste can feel overwhelming, but be encouraged that the little changes you make matter! I’d love to hear one way that you’ve been able to reduce waste in your life.