So you’ve hummed and hawed and finally decided to reduce your personal waste. Let me be the first to say congrats and welcome to the Zero Waste community! This is an amazing decision and an incredibly rewarding lifestyle change.
Now, I know this can be REALLY overwhelming and you probably think you need to toss all your “unsustainable” items, replacing them with the eco-swap. I’m going to tell you to stop, take a deep breath, and put that disposable Q-tip back in your medicine cabinet for now.
Figure Out Your Zero Waste Why
Why are you going “zero waste?”
Perhaps you want to save money or live more sustainably. Maybe you saw that video of a sea turtle with a straw in its nose and want to lower your impact on wildlife. Whatever your reasons, writing them down can help when you feel discouraged!
Use What You Have
The most sustainable item is the one you already have.
I said it. Don’t go out and buy the “sustainable” thing and throw out what you have. That’s just a waste of money and isn’t good for the environment! Use what you have until it breaks, repurpose it or properly dispose of it, and then invest in the sustainable option. Take it slow.
Going slow has an added benefit: you can take your time to research the best options for you and your family! You are more susceptible to greenwashing and other marketing tactics when you’re in a rush. Plus, you can find more companies and small businesses that align with your specific values.
If you really, REALLY want to get the aesthetic item, I’m not going to stop you or tell you that you’re a “bad zero-waster.” But please try to find a new home for your things or dispose of them properly!
Read up on the 7 R’s of Sustainability
You probably know about the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Recently, this has been expanded into a more comprehensive list! Check out my post about the 7 R’s of Sustainability to learn more!
Buy Less, but Better
Overconsumption is a backbone of our society. It’s a major cause of climate change. Not only that, but it’s leaving us all broke and miserable! While we may not be able to combat climate change alone, we can change our own behaviours.
When we buy fewer items, we automatically save. We learn to love what we have, which makes us more content with our lives. Carbon emissions decrease, as we’re not producing and shipping as much. And, to top it all off, our bank accounts are happier and fuller. In fact, all these savings, you’ll be able to buy better quality and more eco-friendly items!
This may be one of the most important, and overlooked, pieces of zero waste living! Not only does this help cement your “why,” but it also helps you make better decisions.
Some great places to start include:
- Plastic industry and links to fossil fuels
- The recycling myth
- Linear vs circular economy
- How environmentalism is intertwined with social issues
Do a Trash Audit
Trash audits are one of the best things to do when you want to reduce your waste. They can last anywhere from 3 days to a whole month. During a trash audit, you simply collect your trash and take note of what’s there. This helps you see areas you can improve upon and tackle during your zero waste journey.
Lastly, get involved. Plan a clothing swap with friends or join a litter clean up. Maybe you prefer to support local businesses or farmers markets. Whatever you enjoy doing, go do that. Real change is most sustainable when we have a great support system.
Are you starting your zero waste journey? What did you struggle with the most?