When people hear the words “Zero Waste” they are thinking literally ZERO WASTE. Absolutely no waste is the goal. But let’s be real: it’s not possible to go full tilt right away…well, it is, but you would be throwing a bunch of sh** away and that’s not Zero Waste at all. So… I guess I was right. (Hehe!)
Anyway, we have some rules to follow when jumping on board.
Let’s start with the three major R’s:
To reduce our waste we must first consider a few things.
- Do I NEED it– (sometimes added as another R-REFUSE) do you absolutely have to get a straw? No? Try to remember to ask your server to skip the straw. Do you need the “free gift” with that purchase? No? Refuse it. Or, like I’ve done, gift it to a friend who can.
- Is there a plastic/package free option– I love Aldi, but the one thing that bothers me most is how much packaging there is around fruits and veggies. I have an anxiety attack nearly every time I go grocery shopping. So, I’m trying to hit up the Farmer’s Market so I don’t have this issue.
- Mail– consider calling the companies that send you a bunch of junk and asking them to stop. Who needs THAT many credit card offers?
- Disposable plates/napkins/dishware. Yes, it’s convenient. I even have a few utensils and plates I need to use up. Let’s be honest- we buy items just so we can throw them away. We are LITERALLY throwing our money away.
- Going to get some coffee? Bring your own cup- avoid styrofoam/plastic cups at all costs.
- Going out to eat? Think you may need to pack up some leftovers? Bring some containers with you. Stash those bad boys in your car, your friends car, whatever. Just try and bring them.
There are so many ways to help reduce our waste. What are you doing to reduce your waste?
What I love about ‘reuse’ is that it goes with ‘reduce’ so well. I have so many suggestions, so I’ll try to keep this (relatively) short.
- Bags- Bring your own bags to the grocery store.
- More bags- waste basket bags that is. I’ve used all my plastic bags I’ve collected over the years to reuse as waste basket bags. These washable bags are perfect for my little baskets throughout the house (four in total). I love that I just dump them into my main garbage. My hope down the road is I won’t have to use the waste baskets at all, and I’ll have to find something else to do with my waste basket bags.
- Zip-lock bags. I don’t buy them, but sometimes they come to me. They wash out pretty easy, and actually last quite a while. Hmmm…I wonder why…I also reuse bread bags like a crazy lady. Bread bags really do keep your socks dry in the winter!
- Silicone bags. I’ve found a love for these guys. So far I’ve only purchased and tried one brand (Innovative). They work great for storing food the same way you would in a zip-lock. They are perfect for freezing/meal prep as well!
*Update 10-16-2020* I have three different brands of silicone storage bags and Homelux Theory is far superior to the other two. (I would put Innovative at the bottom of the list- don’t waste your money.)
…That’s a lot of bags
- Newspaper– gardening, wrapping paper, make your own envelopes, etc.
- Glassware. A dear old friend of mine, Chelsea, taught me the art of reusing my apple cider vinegar bottles as water bottles. GENIUS! I get a lot of comments on them. Mostly, “is that alcohol?”, or, “is that a VINEGAR BOTTLE??” I just answer yes to both, it’s more fun that way.
- Napkins-I stopped buying paper napkins and paper towel forever ago. I’ll never go back. Having cloth napkins that I just throw in the wash every week with my other laundry is wonderful. They will last a long time AND I’m saving money. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. WHO DOESN’T LOVE SAVING MONEY?!
- Jars- I save a LOT of glass jars, and was hella blessed to move into a home that had a giant stash in the basement (THANKS GEORGE AND YVONNE!) Jars are excellent and have many uses, such as candles, birthday party/holiday party glasses, canning (if they are a certified canning jar! Don’t use just anything. Not all glass is created equal), homemade hand soaps/laundry detergent, etc. The possibilities are endless.
- For those of us that have a moon cycle- reusable cups, panti-liners and pads. I started making my own panti-liners and pads. I love it. We’ll talk more about cups and pads in another post. Stay tuned!
This is such a short list, if you can believe it. I know… I’m long winded. I love figuring out new ways to reuse. It’s so very important to drop the single-use items in our lives and find better options. There are TONS out there. And, I know it can be kinda daunting…exhausting even. Trust me, it’s a major undertaking. My best advice is to take it one item at a time. It takes everyone doing Zero Waste imperfectly- not a few doing it perfectly- to make the difference. What are your favorite items to reuse?
Ethan and I recently watched an episode from Story Bots (Netflix) called “Why Do We Have to Recycle?” This is such a wonderful/horrifying representation of where we are right now in ‘Merica. It’s pretty sad how we consume and throw away. Give it a watch if you’re a Netflix subscriber. Share it with your children. It’s hella important. Also, who doesn’t love the Story Bots?! It might be for kids, but, as an adult, I dig it.
If you can’t reuse an item, or it was a must have, try to be sure it’s able to be recycled. Remember, though, recycling has its own small set of rules:
- Certain facilities accept certain materials, so make sure to read their list of accept materials. Unfortunately, not all are created equal. Use it anyway. It’s better than nothing.
- Dirty containers/unaccepted garbage mess up the whole batch. Be a good little dooby and wash out your containers and follow your facilities guidelines.
- **If the package says “replace cap” to recycle, but your facility wants it removed and discarded REMOVE AND DISCARD THE CAP! Then, try to find another use for the caps, or toss it in the garbage. I know…it’s annoying, but like I said, it’s better than nothing.
What are some ways you’re working towards reducing your waste? What items are you proud of reusing?
To our viewers in different countries. What is your recycling like? How much waste does your household produce?
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Peace, Love, and Gratitude,