I know what you’re thinking… Zero waste? How is it possible to live without any waste? Well, I’m about to let you in on a little secret… Living a zero-waste lifestyle is one of the best ways to simplify your life despite how complicated it may sound. If you are looking to lower your waste and don’t know where to start I’m here to help. If you plan ahead and be intentional, you’ll find that living waste-free can be fun and isn't as difficult as you would think.
Keep A Zero Waste Kit On You
Nothing says you're more prepared like having a zero-waste kit on hand! In this kit, you can include anything from your fave snacks to the more detailed things like toothpaste and bar soaps. Think about what you usually bring with you when out and about, and switch it out for items that can be used over and over for a long time. I’ve listed some kit items below to consider:
Reusable bags (for leftover food scraps, picking up your groceries, etc)
Reusable cloth napkins
I want to add that you don’t necessarily have to purchase all of these items. Creating your own zero waste kit is about customizing it to your unique needs! So if you have a glass jar lying around the house, try using this for your bottle on the go! Always be mindful and work with what you’ve got. Check out some of these zero waste kits on Pinterest to get some inspiration!
Buy Your Food Without The Unnecessary Packaging
So much waste can be prevented by simply avoiding the extra packaging. If you want your fresh produce bagged, you can opt for an eco-friendly bag instead. Shopping at your local farmers’ market is also a win-win because most vendors avoid using plastic to cover produce.
If you get take-out food, pay attention to the options that are minimal waste. It’s okay to ask what is available. Most of the time businesses are very proactive about what a customer requests. Keep in mind that sometimes all it takes is a bit of education and a demand to push a business’s packaging choices in the right direction.
Spend Your Money Mindfully
Focus on making easy swaps like trading in your plastic water bottles for a reusable one, or buying reusable cotton pads instead of makeup wipes. Using refillable products so that you don’t need to keep purchasing the whole item is also a plus. Spending mindfully is all about figuring out what works best for you and asking yourself if you really need to make the purchase.
Whenever possible, it’s always a smart idea to purchase something gently used or pre-owned to help prevent waste. There are so many zero waste alternatives available you’d be surprised how many you discover after just taking the initiative to do a bit of research.
I would recommend making a list of some things you use daily and check out local thrift stores. If possible ask around and see if your neighbors or friends have what you need. There are lots of tools available like Facebook marketplace and OfferUp that are great for finding people in your area that are selling or trading items. Sometimes all you have to do is reach out! By using second-hand options, you’re giving things a new home and preventing waste in the long run.
Monitor Your Food Intake
The food waste you have can easily be minimized by carefully assessing how much food you typically eat and planning ahead. It’s much easier to eat all the food you have when you keep a running list of meal ideas and measure the amounts of food you actually consume on a day-to-day basis.
Another fun tip is to search up recipes you can make with the food you have left in your fridge. You’d be surprised how many meal ideas you can make with a few ingredients! If you’ve got leftover veggies from a previous recipe try searching up new meals that can incorporate them. Soups, salads, and stews are all flexible meals that you can add the leftover ingredients to and get creative with. There are also great delivery services like Misfit Foods and Imperfect Foods that prioritize using fresh produce if you are looking to purchase fresh produce more intentionally.
Use Free Resources
Equip yourself with tools that will encourage you to be more conscious of waste! I’ve listed some cool resources below that you can try out that will help guide and educated on your options and what’s available.
Bunz The City Network: A tool for finding what you need in your area! You can search for anything from clothing to art and furniture. People give the option to trade in certain items too!
Freecycle: A tool where you can search for items people no longer need and can pick up for free! All you have to do is sign up and add your location and it will automatically pull up a list of different things people are trying to get rid of.
Share Waste: This is a great resource for anyone wanting to compost their food! You can sign up free as a host, a donor, or a cafe depending on what you need. For example, if you’re a cafe business and have extra food laying around, you can sign up to give the leftover scraps to feed animals. Talk about being resourceful!
If you pick one of these tips and start putting it into practice one day at a time, you’ll be well on your way to living a zero-waste life! Start simple and focus on one goal at a time. Be intentional and take actions that make sense to you and your circumstances! Living with zero waste is about trying your best, not being perfect.