While the three R’s of Recycle, Reduce and Reuse have been our sustainable mantra for the past decade, 2020 is here to introduce a whole new level of green living. Meet the Zero-Waste lifestyle. Far more than just a passing fad, zero waste focuses on minimizing our impact on the environment by lessening or even eliminating the need to create trash. While this might sound like a nearly impossible task, it’s a lot easier than you might think. Check out these five easy ways to add zero-waste techniques to your everyday life.
A paper coffee cup, a smoothie straw and pre-packed salad clamshell might seem insignificant at the time, but these seemingly innocuous products can add up in the long run. Be a sustainable advocate by planning ahead. Bring a thermos or mug to the coffee shop, use a metal or silicone straw and start a brown bag revolution for lunch. Make use of reusable snack pouches and beeswax wraps in lieu of single-use plastics. Stay away from pre-packaged goods that utilize excess packaging and unnecessary wrapping. Shop the bulk section of your grocery store and support local businesses by buying package free at your neighborhood farmers market.
Cut the Clutter
Reduction is a big part of the zero waste movement. Let go of items that no longer serve a purpose in your home. Use this an excuse to clean out the junk drawer, clear the closets and sort through your kitchen cabinets. While you might be tempted to go out and replace these items, resist the urge to splurge on cotton produce bags and pretty stainless steel water bottles - use up the items you have first. There’s no reason to toss out a big stash of individually wrapped snacks to replace it with a bulk item. Plan for the future and set yourself up to buy less.
Swap-Out and Repurpose
Paper goods might seem like the hardest item to give up but never fear, there are plenty of alternatives. For the kitchen, swap paper towels for cotton rags, disposable napkins for cloth, and tissues for handkerchiefs. Modern high-efficiency appliances mean less water is used for washing and biodegradable soap does little harm to the environment. For non-negotiable paper items, like toilet tissue and infant diapers seek out brands that use recycled materials and sustainable fibers like bamboo to create their product.
Reuse and Repair
A big part of going zero waste relies on your drive to get creative. Upcycle items in your home, like clothes, furniture and home goods, and embrace the value philosophy of repair over replace. Investing in high quality items from the start means that over time they can be refreshed and renewed. Solid furniture can be reupholstered, beautiful leather shoes resoled and gorgeous hardwood floors refinished for years to come.
Recycle & Compost
Finally, for all the items that just can’t be reused, send them back to the earth. Composting is a great way to get rid of organic scraps from the kitchen and beyond. Don’t think that you have to invest in a large garden composter, these days miniature kitchen models, with built in carbon filters, stylish stainless steel construction and modern shapes are all the rage. A small capacity keeps odors to a minimum and makes it easy to carry and move with almost a full week’s worth of compost. For recycleables, you shouldn’t have many! Going zero-waste means eliminating the plastic before it gets to you. Remember your jars for bulk items, bags for product and reusable storage boxes for takeaway.
We can all benefit from making greener choices, so see what zero waste practices you can integrate into your daily life. Share with us how far you can go!
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