Zero Waste: the idea that you don’t have to contribute to the world’s waste epidemic. Through refusal, reuse, reduction, and recycling, you can make a small (but meaningful) contribution to Earth’s health, as well as your own health, finances, and time. Zero Waste is exactly how it sounds – you create almost zero waste in your daily life. It seems radical and almost impossible, but once you have a system in place, it is entirely achievable.
The story of why I’ve decided to commit myself to Zero Waste begins when I first moved into a home without trash pick-up. I have always recycled plastic, glass, and metal – but when I was forced to see the amount of trash I was burning every month, I was amazed. How can I, one person, produce so much waste, even when I’m recycling so much? I couldn’t, and still can’t, imagine what amount of waste people who don’t recycle are creating.
Now that I’ve decided to create less waste, I have to take a look at how waste is getting into my home. Some sources I have discovered are:
- Mail. I get newspapers, magazines, credit card offers, internet service offers, and bills in the mail. What I’ve done thus far to reduce this kind of waste is to automate the bills that offer those services, call credit card and internet companies and tell them to stop sending me offers (Catalog Choice can give you phone numbers for major companies and the extension to dial), and cancel all magazines subscriptions (I was receiving Self and Runner’s World but I realized all of the articles, recipes, and tips can be easily found on the internet). Not only am I saving money this way, but I’m saving time by having to physically pay bills and having to sort through a bunch of junk mail. This is still a work in progress. Updates will be posted.
- Plastic Bags. I reuse my plastic sacks from Walmart and the grocery store as trash bags for under the kitchen sink and in the bathroom. This is not necessary; the can itself does a decent job of holding the trash. I may have to physically clean out my trash cans at intervals, but this is still waste I can eliminate. I’m solving the issue of plastic bags by putting reusable shopping bags in my car to take with me into the store.
- Paper Towels. This is going to be a hard one for me, especially when I have to clean up gross stuff – like dog puke. I am going to start small by keeping paper towels underneath the sink for emergencies and replace what I normally use them for (napkins, drying hands, wiping the sink, cleaning windows, etc.) with microfiber cloths or plain wash clothes and rags that can be washed and used again. This is still a work in progress. Updates will be posted.
- Groceries. Most of my trash is coming from food packaging. This will be a difficult problem to solve as shopping for bulk items I will have to drive roughly an hour to do so – it will take some planning and effort initially but once I have a system in place, it should be fine. Also, buying local produce at farmer’s markets will keep me from bringing home waste from grocery stores and Walmart. This is still a work in progress. Updates will be posted.
Further actions I will be taking to reduce waste:
- Buying Second Hand. This will be difficult for me because I like shopping. A lot. I also really enjoy new clothes and new shoes. I may have to ease slowly into this one but I’ve decided that when I feel like I need new shoes, clothes, furniture, dishes, or anything else – I will first look through resale shops and second hand stores before entering any major chains. This is still a work in progress. Updates will be posted.
- Composting. Any food waste my dog doesn’t eat, I will be putting into my compost.
There you have it. The beginning of my journey. More detailed descriptions of my adventures in becoming zero waste in the future!