Being waste-free means trying to waste as little as possible, if not anything at all. And this is not only super good for the environment, but also for your health, for the entire society and… for your pocket. Surprised?
In fact, very often the reduction of waste can reduce your groceries and everyday costs.
But being Zero Waste is not always easy and, just like for any other habit, you need to get used to it and really make it a part of your routine one step at the time. And the best way to do so is by starting small because the first and smallest actions you make lead to the biggest changes. Sounds clichè, doesn’t it? But it’s always been proven right!
So here are 10 very basic ways to start being Zero Waste.
THE 5 R’S OF WASTE MANAGEMENT
Before starting, I want to introduce you to the 5 R’S of waste management. They’re the first things you need to know – and do – in order to be waste-free. Here they are:
(1.) REFUSE – what you don’t need
(2.) REDUCE – what you do need
(3.) REUSE – by using what you have
(4.) RECYCLE – what you can
(5.) ROT – the rest
In this article, we’re gonna focus on refusing, which is the first – and in my opinion the hardest – step in order to become waste – free. However, I’m planning on writing more articles on this topic, so let me know in the comments what you would like to read!
1. DON’T BRING TRASH HOME
Think before accepting any clutter into your home. Turn down flyers and junk mail, freebies, party favors, and any other junk that will most likely go into the trash.
2. STOP USING PLASTIC GROCERY BAGS
Each year, Americans alone throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags which take about 1000 years to break down. Instead of accepting plastic bags and creating more demand for them, you can use reusable cloth bags.
I used to think that it was mandatory to use these plastic bags for your fruits and vegetables, but I recently discovered, instead, that you can just use your own bag or even no bag at all.
3. SWITCH TO REUSABLE STRAWS
Next, instead of using one – time disposable plastic straw, you can either refuse the straw completely or use an acrylic or steel straw instead. Personally, I use an acrylic straw for my smoothies and juices.
4. STOP USING PLASTIC WRAP
Instead of using plastic cling wraps in your kitchen to preserve your food and leftovers, switch to use sustainable and reusable food wraps. Around, you can find many and many types, but if you need some ideas to start with, here are my favorites:
These one shown in the pictures above are all natural, organic, and compostable.
They’re made out of beeswax, and they actually do a really good job at keeping your food fresh, even better than plastic – in my opinion.
5. SWITCH TO REUSABLE BOTTLES
Instead of buying disposable plastic water bottles, opt for a reusable water bottle that you can fill up again and again.
Glass and steel are probably best for your water bottle than plastic is.
6. AVOID DISPOSABLE UTENSILS
Do your best to avoid using disposable utensils. Instead, you can bring silverware from home or use portable utensils made out of stainless steel or bamboo.
7. REPLACE YOUR PLASTIC TOOTHBRUSH
Over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes that will never biodegrade are dumped in landfills and oceans each year.
Think of all the toothbrushes that you use in your lifetime. And imagine avoiding that waste completely, just by switching to something that’s biodegradable and compostable – a bamboo toothbrush.
Think of how big your impact can be, just by doing this simple switch.
8. AVOID DISPOSABLE PERIOD PRODUCTS
Disposable period products create so much waste. The average woman throws away up to 300 pounds of pads, tampons, and applicators in her lifetime.
Instead, try using a menstrual cup – they are made out of medical grade silicone and one cup can last you up to 10 years, which is pretty amazing. Also, you can buy one for as little as $20. If this is not a money saving hack I don’t know what is!
9. REDUCE PAPER
Another great way to go waste-free is to reduce the amount of paper you have into your home, by switching to paperless whenever possible.
You can do this with your mail, your bills, your notes, and your books.
I personally love reading eBooks on my iPad, or on my phone, but you might prefer traditional books – this choice is up to you. Do whatever works for you, don’t feel forced to do anything too fast, or in a too much drastic way. Remember that even the smallest step can make a huge impact.
Speaking from my experience, this hack also helped me keep my home more organized and less full of those annoying papers lying everywhere. And now I know exactly where I can find a specific document or book, so I can say that going paperless helped me save some time, too.
10. BUY IN BULK
Finally, you can bring your own jars to grocery stores to avoid bringing home any unnecessary plastic containers.
I love when grocery stores sell things in bulk so that it’s really easy to do some zero waste shopping.
You can either weigh your jars at the front beforehand or bring an extra of the same jar so you can weight it at checkout.
ANOTHER IDEA – ECOSIA
Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees as you search the web, and it’s definitely a great idea if you think of it.
You basically use it as you use Google, or any other search engine, then search ads come up with your results – just like those you find on Google for example. They use those search ads to get an income, and then donate 80% of that income to planting trees.
I think that on an average, 45 searches will plant one tree.
45 searches = 1 tree
Think of how much of an impact this can be. Think of how many times per day you do a search on the Internet, and think of how many trees you could plant just by doing what you normally do.
You can even check on their website to know exactly where the money is going to. They’re very clear on this, as you can see right here from the graphs on their site. Here is one from July 2017:
You can use Ecosia on your computer or on your phone – they have a mobile app for iOS and Android.
They’ve already planted 10 million trees this June, and they have a goal to plant 1 billion trees by 2020, which I find super inspiring.
When trying to go waste-free, always remember to take one step at a time, and do what you feel like doing. Don’t be hard on yourself, don’t force it, it’s a journey. All that matters is that you’re becoming aware, more conscious of the environment and that you’re doing your best.
Everyone is at a different point in this journey, in this challenge. Nobody’s perfect – I definitely am not. I’m still learning, and I try hard every day, but sometimes I fail. I’m definitely not waste free yet, but it’s my goal.
I think that after all the first step is awareness, and then you can start reducing your waste little by little.
Always keep in mind that even a small step can make a huge impact on the environment.
Let me know what you think about the Zero Waste lifestyle, let’s open an open-minded discussion in the comments!
As I said previously on this same post, I’m planning on writing more on this topic, because I’m really passionate about it – and it’s definitely something I believe in – so let me know what you would like to read in the future!