Working towards a zero-waste lifestyle is easy, we promise.
Contrary to popular belief, transitioning to a zero-waste lifestyle doesn’t mean kicking your garbage can to the curb and turning your backyard into a compost pile. While we don’t totally hate the idea of that, we’re here to provide some easy (and fun!) ways to dip your toe into the zero-waste lifestyle pool.
Billions of plastic items are floating in the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers. You’ve probably heard the astonishing statistic that by 2050 oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight. Not only is plastic taking up precious real estate in the deep blue, but it’s also being ingested by fish, shellfish, and birds—and ultimately ending up back on our dinner plates. Cue the viral video of the poor sea turtle with the plastic straw stuck in its nose. Poor guy…
That leads us to single use plastic. One of the easiest ways to start your zero-waste journey is to cut down on these in your daily life. Invest in a reusable water bottle and keep it with you to refill on the go. Have a “no straw” policy at bars and restaurants and tell your bartender and server so you don’t get one anyway. If you absolutely can’t live without a straw, snag some stainless steel ones.
Some other ways to reduce your single use plastic intake:
- Bring your own tote bags and produce bags to the grocery store
- Bring lunch to work in a reusable container instead of buying something that most likely comes in a plastic container (speaking of lunch, avoid ziplock bags and plastic wrap!)
- Switch to bamboo toothbrushes and paper cotton swabs
Whatever plastic products you currently use, there is almost always a non-plastic alternative you can find on the internet or at your local eco-friendly shop. All it takes is a little research.
Okay, so you bought plastic, or something in plastic packaging. First of all, forgive yourself! It’s VERY difficult to go completely plastic free and it’s not a lifestyle you adopt overnight. It’s like anything new you start, the more you practice the better you’ll get at it. So, if you do consume, make sure you’re recycling that plastic and doing it in the proper way. Every state has different guidelines but here are some quick tips:
- Plastic bags are NOT recyclable. They are actually a contaminant and interfere with the process at the sorting facility
- Same deal with styrofoam— it is also not recyclable
- Avoid putting hazardous materials like batteries, paint and certain household cleaners in the recycling bin
- This may seem like an obvious one, but separate plastic and glass from paper and cardboard
- Lids and caps from bottles should be removed before going into the recycling bin
Buy and Sell Used
This is usually surprising for most people to hear but buying second hand items is a great step in the zero-waste direction. When you buy used, you’re giving items a new life and avoiding more products from entering landfills. Furthermore, the manufacturing of new garments and accessories contributes to a lot of wasted energy and materials.
The same goes for your old goodies. Our very own Give Back Box program makes donating to your local charity easy and convenient. Pack up boxes of your items, print a label, and schedule a pickup. You don’t even have to leave home to get it done! If you own some more expensive designer items there are tons of companies that allow you to resell to other second-hand lovers.
There are some really inventive ways to reuse the items lying around your house. The benefits here are the same as buying secondhand goods—less landfill waste and less manufacturing.
Tap into your inner creative and jump on the DIY bandwagon—there are loads of ways you can turn trash into treasure. Here are a few unique projects to try:
- Tequila bottle soap dispenser
- Mini succulent cork magnets – these are the cutest things we’ve EVER seen.
- Mason Jar organizer
- Denim coasters
You probably receive a hard copy of your monthly bills in the mail, and we’re willing to bet that 8 out of 10 of those will get thrown away because you pay bills online. If you check the company’s website there’s usually a place where you can sign up for paperless billing. That’s one (or ten) less pieces of junk mail to end up in your recycling pile!
Zero-waste life doesn’t have to be scary, it can actually be quite enjoyable. Being more environmentally friendly and reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t require a massive lifestyle change, it’s about making small tweaks. If all 7 billion of us living on this planet each made a small tweak, that would equal to one HUGE impact. Every little bit counts and we all need to start somewhere.
Nicole Grossberg is a freelance writer with a passion for sustainability and doing her part to save the planet. She’s usually seen with a reusable water bottle, coffee tumbler, or stainless steel straw—no single use plastic allowed! When she’s not writing you can find her at a Yankee game, in the kitchen cooking, curled up with a good book, or drinking iced coffee. She currently resides in Astoria, NY.