One of the things I wanted to start doing this year is to move more towards zero waste lifestyle. When I was living in Europe, one thing I did notice was that there was less trash, and they recycled way more. There were several trash cans for colored glass, clear glass, the types of paper, and they encouraged people to go to the store to recycle their own bottles. This was awesome! Coming back to the States, I could not wait to incorporate this into my daily routine in the States. Through composting, I recycle what I can through composting, I make a lot of my own beauty products, and I take my own bags to the store ( this isn’t a requirement in my State). With all that effort, I feel like I can do more, so now I am focusing on working my way up to a zero waste lifestyle, and wanted to create this guide about what I have learned to help you go zero waste as well.
The Beginner’s Guide to Going Zero Waste
Step 1: Awareness / Establishing Why You Want to Go Zero Waste
This part is very important. Today, in this society where the focus is on convenience rather than the true cost of excess trash to our planet, it is really easy to slip back into a trash heavy lifestyle. Why you want to go zero waste will help you stay on track when the people at the grocery store look at you crazy for bringing your own bags ( this has totally happened to me). My reason is just that I really think all this trash and excess consumptions of sometimes unhealthy products cannot be great to the Earth or our bodies, and I want to do my part not to contribute to this anymore.
Step two: Phase Out/ Minimize and Assess Your Current Waste Levels
How much trash are you currently making? First, when I started composting I began noticing the amount of trash I created. There is A LOT you can compost and a lot you can’t. Soon after I got my first useable compost, I was hooked and wanted to find more to feed my pile, however, I saw that I could not compost much of the trash I was making. Things like plastics and paper cups never broke down. To myself, I thought, well why the heck am I using this stuff, and where does it go since there aren’t recycling bins where I live?
Step 3: What Can You Swap
After I figured out how much trash I had, I started to think about how I could replace with a zero waste option. As I mentioned I started to make my own shampoo, moisturizers, and even loc gel ( I do my locs at home). Things like toothbrushes could be replaced. I make my own toothpaste, and body washes, and I got rid of my plastic water bottles and bought a reusable one that I liked.
Examples of Things to Swap-
- Safety Razor
- Kitchen dish towels
- Jars for bulk items
- Canvas grocery bags
- Reusable Coffee Mugs
- Stainless steel straws
Step 4: Continue to Educate Yourself
Lastly, continuing to educate yourself when it comes to zero waste techniques is imperative. This had led me on the path to minimalism, learning to sew to keep my clothes longer. Even the types of fabrics and make up of products is important to me now. After learning the basics, make sure to keep growing and learning and finding like-minded people to learn from. It is always nice to have a good clan of people along who have a similar mindset to help keep you on track. I’ll list some suggestions below. If you have an tips for an alternative to Amazon, let me know.