What is Zero Waste?
The term “Zero Waste” has been thrown around a lot more lately, but what exactly does it mean? This movement is a goal to help guide people in adapting a more sustainable lifestyle.
The idea is that by purchasing reusable items versus single-use disposables and packaged products, we will send less items to landfills. The focus on reuse does not necessarily mean that we are recycling more, it emphasizes the idea that we will begin rethinking our consumer behavior and purchasing more reusable items that won’t need to be recycled.
How do you start a Zero Waste life?
Going zero waste and living a more sustainable lifestyle can seem intimidating at first. You may be confused on where to start or how you could possibly give up your morning Starbucks. The nice thing about the zero-waste movement is that even the smallest changes will make a difference.
If you don’t feel as though you can fully commit right now, start small. Instead of purchasing plastic water bottles, start taking a reusable water bottle with you. Or focus on bringing a reusable mug when you go to the coffee shop. (Pro tip: most coffee shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup!)
The important thing to remember is that it is nearly impossible to be completely “zero” waste in our society. The “zero-waste” lifestyle will be different for everyone, but once you start making small changes it won’t seem so intimidating.
How Can A Zero Waste Lifestyle be Affordable?
So, going out and buying completely new reusable products doesn’t really seem like the most budget-friendly option, right?
The key is to evaluate the area of your life where you are accumulating the most trash and start there. Sit down and decide how much you are willing to invest in going zero waste. Some people will want to go all out and replace everything they own with reusable products and others will have less than $50 to dedicate to their zero-waste endeavor, and EITHER option is totally okay! You don’t have to start buying fancy metal Tupperware or shopping at specialty zero-waste stores to make a difference.
Here are some cheap and easy ideas to help you get started:
- Mason Jars: The mason jar fad has BLOWN UP lately! A lot of your local thrift stores (hint hint, Goodwill) will have mason jars for less than a dollar. Or, if you’re a pasta fan, start saving those sauce containers and reusing them.
- Make your own coffee and meals at home. This might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how much waste consumers create from plastic coffee cups (those horrible straws) and takeout containers. By cooking at home and making your own coffee in the morning, you’re eliminating the need for those containers.
- Just say no to plastic. My best zero-waste investment thus far is definitely my reusable water bottle. I never noticed how much plastic was being generated from buying plastic water bottles until I started doing some research on it. Did you know that Americans use around 50 BILLION plastic water bottles each year? What makes that even worse is that less than 25% of those water bottles were recycled. The other billions of water bottles were wasted! While purchasing a reusable water bottle might seem like you’re not even making a dent in the problem, you are making a difference!