By Rachel Kibbe
by Stephanie Wilson
Unless you've been living under a rock, you may have noticed the rise of zero waste living trends on the internet. However, it might be mystifying to you how bloggers get the waste they've produced in an entire year into a single mason jar. And depending on the reliability or even existence of public recycling and/or composting programs where you live, the journey to zero waste could very well be an arduous one!
To help you on your way to becoming zero waste famous, here are some items that can realistically be incorporated into your daily routine that can cut down on waste. You can pick and choose which ones work for you, but I'd suggest focusing on reducing ever-present and environmentally devastating plastic more than anything else!
Coffee Cup - Chances are you're already used to a regular caffeine run. But how often are those toss away cups recyclable? Reusable cups have come a long way, with options in stainless steel as well as glass, and a rainbow of colors. Some chains offer a discount on your beverage if you use your own reusable tumbler, making this the most painless change to make!
Water Bottle - Disposable water bottles are some of the most notorious offenders when it comes to waste. The plastic they're made of does not break down once in a landfill, and they are so unnecessary when you think about all the fun colors and patterns that reusable water come in these days. Another excuse to accessorize? Yes, please! Bonus: some double as hot beverage containers as well, so you can carry one instead of two.
Grocery Totes & Produce bags - Cotton totes have been around as long as stores have been charging for plastic bags, and they are essential for any shopping trip. But if you're hitting up the grocery store and want to avoid plastic, be sure to grab some produce bags as well. If they're made of nylon, just be sure to hand wash them, as your washer can be a surprising source of waste.
Mason Jars - Mason jars are super versatile. From holding the minuscule amount of waste you'll be producing to a frosty drink, mason jars are the cornerstone of zero waste living. Another way to reduce waste while at the grocery store is to buy in bulk, and fill those jars up with dry goods. Some bulk sections and stores even accommodate the extra weight of your jars, and sell staples such as nut butters in bulk as well. Time to stock up!
Bar soap - All those plastic bottles that personal care products come in are not good for the environment. One easy way to reduce your reliance on them is to switch from body wash to bar soap. Use it up and there's nothing to toss. For advanced zero waste living, seek out shampoo bars as well. Less bottles = less waste!
Cloth pads/menstrual cup - Once in awhile I think about all of the feminine hygiene products that must be used up and tossed every month and it boggles. my. mind. I mean, think about how many the average woman uses in a month, and then times that BY MILLIONS! Each month! I can't actually hold the number in my mind -- it must be that big. So while switching to reusable products might seem like a small switch, it must make a massive dent in the amount of stuff headed towards landfills!
Household paper - If you're loving the zero waste lifestyle and want to take it to the next level, think about other sources of waste in your home. Paper towel can be replaced with cloth napkins (and make each meal feel super fancy), cotton pads or balls can be switched for reusable facial rounds. And if you're feeling super brave, switch facial tissues for good old fashioned handkerchiefs!
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