Zero waste is one of those 2019 buzzwords that actually grabbed my attention. I spent a significant time in my youth focusing on “going green” and wanting to save the planet. I even had a neighborhood club (shoutout to Kings Grant and the 305!) where we raised money to save the rainforest. (I wonder who holds the deed to our few acres…hmmm.) I’d like to say I held tight to my reduce-reuse-recycle mantra, but if you’ve ever seen my yard on trash day, it’s a sad sight. I decided this was the year I’d make small changes and move toward “zero waste” living.
So what is zero waste?
According to Wikipedia, Zero waste is reaching the goal of not sending any trash to landfills and reducing the consumption of plastic.
“But I have a busy family,” you say. Isn’t this even more of a reason to make changes? I started this process not knowing what to do first or how to make changes that were significant and sustainable for zero waste living. I’m happy to say we’ve embraced a zero waste lifestyle. Do I have only single bags of garbage on garbage pick-up day? Not a chance! But I have reduced a lot of our family waste, and that’s a start. Plus, my kids are now fully on board and more aware of the garbage we create.
Ways to reduce waste easily
The most significant changes we made to move toward zero waste were with the kids lunches. We moved away from plastic lunch baggies by replacing them with reusable sandwich and snack bags. The first brand I used was Lunchskins. I loved how easy they were to use and clean.
The snack bag is great for small snacks but sometimes too small for some “bulky” snacks like Veggie Straws. Once I realized how easy using reusable was, got over my fear of moving away from plastic bags, and I needed something pretty. To add to our collection, I started using a work-from-home-Mom brand Alpine Eco Bags and OMG, they are adorable. I have a minor obsession with her prints. Jump on Etsy, search “reusable sandwich/snack bags” and the styles are endless.
On super busy weeks, I keep paper sandwich bag brands by If You Care. I close them up with washi tape and write notes and doodles for my kids!
For all shopping, I’ve made a more conscious effort to take reusable shoppers with me. My biggest hangup with this change was always that carrying around bulky shoppers at all times was a huge pain. My mom changed this for me during Christmas when she gifted me reusable shoppers that actually zip into small pouches. Pair that with mesh produce bags and you are in business for reducing all those plastic bags you use for fruits and veggies. Once you’ve conquered this move to beeswax food wraps instead of plastic wrap! I just got mine in the mail but haven’t quite made that leap.
Forgot all your bags? Ask for paper bags at check out! It may not be zero waste but it’s making a better choice by going paper versus plastic.
Change Your Drinking Habits
Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to give up your wine! Try even easier zero waste changes. Take your reusable drink containers with you when you go out to avoid cups that will just be tossed away. If you forgot, just skip the plastic lid and straw. If you have them, take your own stainless steel or acrylic straws with you. Some brands come with their very own cases now!
But first, coffee! That was actually one of the first changes we made. We got rid of our drip coffee maker and moved to French Press and Pour-Over that has a reusable filter. If that’s too extreme, opt for biodegradable coffee filters. We’ve come to appreciate the process of brewing coffee and it takes about the same time as brewing a normal pot of coffee.
Just the Beginning
Of course there are a lot more things you can change. Here’s even more changes you can implement!
- Buy bulk dry good by the pound
- Shop only fresh foods
- Go to a you-pick farm
- Shop at a butcher who only uses paper
- Switch from dryer sheets to dryer balls
- Switch from paper towels to regular towels
- And napkins to cloth napkins
- Need a bigger challenge?
- Choose tree-free toilet paper
- Move to reusable feminine products
The options are endless and adopting even a few can make a big impact!