My journey into adopting a zero waste lifestyle has been slow, and that's ok. These days I'm making mindful, baby step changes to how I shop and discard items that I purchase, eventually making the "discard" step a thing of the past.
The first thing I did when I decided to make significant changes was to go around my apartment and take note on things I regularly discard. Things like food scraps, food packaging, paper products, cleaning products, and personal hygiene stuff. From here I did some research into environment friendly alternatives and made some choices on replacements, with the end goal being to not discard items again, or at least ethically discard (compost).
Here are some areas where I've made headway.
Reusable grocery bags. I've been using my reusable bags for a few years now, even before making the choice to adopt zero waste. I keep my bags in the trunk of my car so they're easy to grab when needed. Easy win.
Reusable produce bags. I found some of these reusable produce bags in the grocery store a few months ago. These are great to replace the small plastic fruit/vegetable bags stores offer. These are also kept in the car trunk, though sometimes they're also found in the fridge housing food that needs to be kept together. Another easy adoption.
Reusable napkin/paper towels. I have some nice, reusable cloth napkins that are kept in a holder on the kitchen table. These come in handy when eating a meal, help me save money by not buying paper products, and reduce paper from entering landfills. When I've finished a meal, I just fold the cloth over and put it back in the holder. I drop used cloths into the wash each week to make sure they're ready for the next. One more win.
Composting. My apartment building, unfortunately, does not offer a compost (or rot) solution. To remedy this, I keep my compostable scraps in a bucket under my kitchen sink and bring them over to my parents house when I visit. They have a nice, big compost solution in the back yard which I'm happy to contribute to.
Bamboo toothbrushes. I got my first bamboo toothbrush a few weeks ago. So far it's been really great as it feels just like a common plastic brush. They're a little pricey if I'm being honest, but I think it's worth it. Being able to drop it in the compost rather than send to the landfill when it's all worn out is a great solution.
Reusable water bottle. I have a reusable water bottle which I take with me almost everywhere. If I'm driving in my car or walking with my backpack on, I've got it full and ready to go. This helps to save me money by not purchasing water when I'm out, and keeps plastic bottles out of landfills/recycling plants.
Zero logo clothing. This one may be a bit of a stretch, but since I no longer wear clothing with logos on them, I feel like there will be less incentive to donate or toss an older, "out of style" item. I feel more confident wearing logo free as I know people will judge me by my actions and character, rather than what brand I seem to be associated with.
For me, living zero waste is not only a lifestyle choice, but something I use to challenge myself everyday. I have to come up with creative ways to use the things I already own and rely less and less on my trash can or recycle bin. It's actually been quite fun and it feels good to do something positive for the environment.
If you're interested in learning more on the zero waste movement, I recommend picking up the following books from your local library:
- Zero Waste Home is a great read for tips on how to incorporate and make positive changes towards a zero waste lifestyle.
- The Zero Waste Solution takes a deep dive into the waste industry with a hard look at the current waste solutions modern society has set in place (spoiler, it's not a good situation.)
Or if video is more your thing:
- Woman Shares Her Zero Waste Lifestyle Experience, breaks down the ideas behind zero waste nicely.
- Sustainable Living E2, Waste: Zero Waste, The 5 R's, Composting, is also a great one to check out.