Zero Waste Lifestyle + What You Need to Get Started
The term Zero Waste is becoming more and more popular. What does it mean? Zero Waste Living is going through life with producing little to no waste. That includes anything that ends up in the landfill, floating in our oceans or decomposing 500 years from now in a trash bag.
However, going Zero Waste living typically requires an initial purge. To go Zero Waste you need to get rid of disposable items and swap them out for reusables. The reusable items may take some getting used to. However, they are higher quality and bring a sense of well-being and happiness along with them. What do you need to get started? Details below.
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Reusable Eating Supplies
While many people have reusable dishes, utensils and cups in our homes, eating out is more complicated. If you have stopped at a drive-thru or taken home leftovers or take-out, you know the pile of waste it creates.
Take-out food creates a massive amount of waste that will take hundreds of years to decompost…for a few moments of eating.
Using techniques like carrying a reusable coffee mug, reusable drink container, stainless steel or glass straws and even taking your own to-go containers to restaurants helps zero wasters make a big impact on the planet.
Trash, used for a few moments, that will decompose 5 generations from now (above) or beautiful glass straws (below)?
Ditching Cosmetic Packaging
One of the largest sources of waste in my home is packaging. Shampoo, liquid soap, hair products, makeup products etc. all come in plastic containers that may or may not even be recyclable. As I phase these items out, I have searched for alternatives. One of my favorite swap-outs has been shampoo bars! The watered down product you get in a shampoo bottle comes in an environmentally friendly bar that is both good for the environment and your body.
Moisturizers are easily replaced with coconut oil, I cover my kids and myself with it from head to toe after a shower, and people across the globe are returning to making their own lip stain, blush and eyeliner.
Reusable menstrual care
While you may be familiar with reusable cloth diapers, you may be new to reusable menstrual supplies. Disposable pads and tampons made from chemicals, plastics and undisclosed ingredients plague our landfills, waterways and planet.
Many menstruators are making the switch to reusable menstrual cups, researching reusable menstrual pads and discovering that they are more comfortable, easy to use and are highly superior to disposable products like tampons and pads.
Cloth diapers are becoming more and more popular. However, cloth diapers used to be the only diapers. Since disposable plastic diapers hit the market, they have been clogging up landfils, polluting the environment and even impact air quality with factory production and transportation across the globe.
Using cloth diapers seriously reduces landfill waste and I personally find them more absorbent, better fitting and better at controlling blowouts and leaks. Plus, they’re adorable, don’t sag like a plastic diaper and have been great for my baby’s sensitive skin. See great diapers at great prices here.
Reusable Shopping Bags
Shopping bags plague our landfills and oceans. These toxic items, like many disposables, are used for moments and then sit for hundreds of years waiting to break down. Replacing your shopping bags with much sturdier, easier to carry reusable bags is both better for you and the environment!
I LOVE my Wegman’s reusable bags so much that I take them to every store. In addition, there are bags for produce and refillable containers for loose goods like nuts and granola. My reusable bags don’t tear, they hold more groceries and are stronger plus I feel really proud when I use & reuse them. I take them into Target and everywhere I need to carry things! I do have to say to make sure to get ones with a sturdy bottom or cuttine a piece of cardboard to fit the bottom of the bag makes them able to hold a ton of weight!
Reusable Produce Containers
For me, the plastic clamshells and fruit bags are the hardest to get rid of. While I take my reusable shopping bags and buy organic, everything is in a clamshell!! We have started growing our own tomatoes, cucumbers, raspberries and salad during warmer months however the winter is a plastic-dodging game.
I have reusable bags for things like bananas, but getting loose produce requires taking my own reusable produce bags. In addition to holding the produce, the bags are airy and I don’t have any condensation build up and spoil our food. Plus, I feel good about not exposing my kids to unavoidable plastic.
Recyclable or Reusable drink containers
Switching to reusable drink containers has been the biggest hurdle for my husband. While I have an easier time leaving the house with 6 reusable water bottles full of water, he’s gone for longer periods of time and loves grabbing a sugary drink when he’s out.
Using reusable bottles has pushed us to drink more water! Yay!
Plastic milk jugs were a huge issue for me. I had WIC with my first son and the jugs just piled up! I felt awful for all the waste. Luckily, we have a local dairy preserve that gives out their very own organic milk in glass bottles and gives you money back when you return them. Since then, we haven’t used one plastic milk bottle! If you are local, please support Hillside Farms or a dairy like this.
Learning to love Mason Jars
Mason jars are a huge part of a zero waste life. They can be taken to the grocery store to be filled with quinoa, rice, cereal, granola, nuts etc. from the loose goods section. In addition, they also replace plastic containers and can be used for lunches, leftovers, to-go beverages and their original intention…canning!
Last year I canned 34 quarts of pickles and 34 quarts of sauce from our garden! The practice had stopped two generations back in my family so it was a complete learning experience for me. Thank God for youtube!
Mason jars have so many purposes. As soon as you start using them, you’ll find that they are the most versatile item you own!
Reusable Coffee Filters & K Cups
Across the globe, disposable coffee k cups, cups, stirrers, lids and packaging clogs landfills on a daily basis. However, finding reusable coffee accessories is easy and goes far beyond the cup. Our basket filter has been around for years, but when we got our first k-cup maching I had to search for a reusable filter.
I remember seeing an article from the k cup inventor stating that he regretted inventing the coffee pods because of the astronomical waste they produce. Luckily, reusable k-cups are easy to use, can be packed with your favorite grounds and in my opinion make a better cup of coffee.
What about the unavoidable?
As hard as I try, there are things I have to buy in packaging. Honey for example. Eggs, orange juice, the band and lid from the mason jars. When selecting these containers it’s always better to go with recyclable. Zero Waste is often about the non-recyclable trash you produce however, many zero-wasters know that not all recyclables actually get recycled and are on a zero-packaging mission.
Have you started a zero waste lifestyle? What’s tips would you give to others?
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