There has been a lot of changes in my life and what I have thought of the world and my place in it in my life the past few months. While I never used to think about the environment more than trying to do some recycling I didn’t think about what I used or used up. Reading about the concept of zero waste can be overwhelming, looking at people who have only made a mason-jar worth of trash in years and how great they are at never using plastic or creating trash in other ways, but I have found a few small steps that have reduced my waste in a not too crazy way.
The tenants of being zero waste are easy to understand, though not as easy to implement into your life with the main idea being around the 5 R’s:
These 5 R’s are meant to be seen in the order that they appear, by
- Refusing what you don’t need
- Reducing what you have
- Reusing (or re-purposing) instead of buying new
- Recycling everything you can
- Rotting the rest
Some people that I really enjoy watching on YouTube who are great Zero Waste/Low Impact inspiration without being over the top or make me feel bad for the waste that I create are Sustainably Vegan and Eco Boost. Both of these people are based in the UK so there are differences in their stores and products, but I find their tips very helpful.
Some of the things that I have done which has reduced my trash exponentially are:
- Created my own cotton rounds (see my blog post about this here) and stopped using makeup wipes
- Replaced paper towels with cloth napkins and microfiber cloths for cleaning
- Bought wool dryer balls to replace dryer sheets
- Got fabric produce bags so I don’t have to use plastic ones and also only use reusable shopping bags. If we forget we just carry the items out without a bag.
- Reduced my plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and parchment paper usage massively by finding replacement product (such as these bowl covers or a silicon baking mat) or just not using them all together.
- Intentionally purchased furniture that we love and want to have for a long time instead of getting things that we know we will replace.
- Try to refuse straws when we can (see more here) and are looking into the best stainless steel or glass straws to buy for both at home and when we are out and want a drink that needs a straw.
- Having metal utensils in the car at all times in case we grab a snack and then we don’t need to use plastic ones.
- Using reusable water bottles and mugs for both hot and cold drinks when we are out.
- Try to get items such as spices, soup stocks, and other bulk items from Bulk Barn who allow you to bring your own containers and fill them up so there is no plastic waste.
Nigel has even found himself adopting some of these practices at work and trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste that he uses and working to conserve and reuse products.
What I like about working towards becoming more waste conscious is the ability to go slowly and replace the things I have when they have reached the end of their lifetime. This is both cost-efficient as I am not throwing out items that still have uses left, I am able to research the best option for me, and I am not overwhelming both myself and my husband. Some of the switches that I know that I am going to be making over the next few months as products run out are:
- Getting a safety razor and metal blades to stop disposable plastic razors and blades.
- Switching to reusable menstrual products
- Looking into reusable beeswax wraps for storing cut and open produce in the fridge.
- Making or finding cloth or silicon snack bags for food that you don’t want to put in a container.
- Switching to bamboo toothbrushes once our current ones have worn out
I am in no way perfect (in fact I am far from it) but each step that I take towards reducing my waste is one that is helping the earth and making it a place that future generations can enjoy as much as I do.
What do you do in your life to reduce your waste and impact on the environment?