4 Things You Can Do to Move Towards Zero Waste

Something I have been systematically working on for some time now is becoming as zero waste as possible. Despite popular belief, this does not happen over night. We have a long history of habituated actions that are seemingly convenient and effective, yet are cause to an exorbitant amount of waste that is deeming our water un-drinkable, killing our wildlife, depleting the ozone, and harming our soil health. This video is just a glimpse at the devastating effects of one use plastics. These actions and choices are what take some patience and dedication to move away from, but the really wonderful thing is the alternatives feel better to our space; mentally and physically.

Eight or so years ago, I read this hilarious and empowering account of a woman who changed something in her life to be “more green” everyday for a year. So created a change, in hopes to shift her norm. The book is called Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson. It was my first real introduction to the modern day “Green Movement” outside of Environmental texts like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, both of which are also must-reads. The second book I read that year that really spearheaded this movement within myself was Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Foer interviews people within the food and meat industry as a way to morally examine the act of eating animals. It is brilliant and provides wonderful information for you to make an informed decision about how and why you consume what you do.

I enjoyed both of these books immensely and walked away with a desire to examine what I do and why and, most importantly, how it effects the world around me. Just because it has been done this way and it is what we are use to as consumers, does NOT mean it is necessary or correct.

So what does it mean to be zero waste? The Zero Waste International Alliance says

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

As an avid outdoors woman, I want to LIVE with my love of the Earth and its miraculous beauty at the fore front of my thoughts and not sacrifice it’s, and ultimately, my, health for some added convenience or not wanting to be “that person”.

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So, here are 4 things you can do NOW that will lead you down a path of less waste and more intention in how you move through your day

(For the sake of length I will post separately about each of these and give reviews on the products I mention!)

Update your toiletries

This one is huge. As women we are spending at least 3-4 days a month tossing tampons, pads, or panty liners into the trash. When I stopped to think about how much I was thoughtlessly throwing away due to the “red tide”, I decided to do some research. Here is a quick quote from this article, “According to the new book Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation, the average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of "pads, plugs, and applicators" in her lifetime. That sounds like a lot. But how much is 300 pounds in the grand scheme of things? Consider that the average American woman menstruates for 38 years—a period during which she can be expected to produce a grand total of 62,415 pounds of garbage (PDF). Thus, during your fertile years, period-related detritus should make up about 0.5 percent of your personal landfill load.”

There are really awesome alternatives though! Period panties are on my list to try, but the menstrual cup is also a great option.

Easily Accessible To-Go Cup

This article is from the UK but gives some terrifying insight to the amount of waste we produce for our morning/afternoon/evening coffee run. Hot drink cups are the number one culprit, but you can lump single use plastic bottles, smoothie cups, and anything else we tend to toss for the sake of thirst into this pile. This is such an easy shift to create! Here are some alternatives that make it easy and accessible to for-go the trash when getting a drink on the run.

Bring Your Own To-Go Box

No explanation really needed here. All those to-go boxes we get when we can’t finish our ridiculous food portions at a restaurant have to go somewhere and it is not AWAY. The EPA lists some startling facts about the container and packaging industry here.

Glass containers are the way to go! These containers are great with the added compartments.

Update Your Kitchen and Bathroom Supplies

This has been one of my favorite zero waste steps! Not only is the wonderful to not be tossing more nasty sponges or old plastic tooth brushes into the trash, but it is so much more aesthetically pleasing! I have been using this website to slowly switch all of my daily use items like toothbrushes, dish brushes, toilet brushes, etc. They ship with recyclable materials and its a husband-wife small business so those are also some major plus’s in my book! Just look how pretty their items are!

Each of these steps are easy and just take a little mindfulness as you plan your day. I have found that not being surrounded by countless throw away items also just helps clear the clutter from my physical and mental space. Each item has a purpose and can be used as such. I will keep going into detail about my zero waste journey and all the ways we can inspire each other to live a cleaner, and ultimately more fulfilling, life, but first…

What are some of your favorite re-usable items or zero waste inspiration (books, articles, companies)?!

Hannah LancasterComment