I once went one a mission trip to Mexico where we visited a very poor slum where people basically lived in a landfill. To this day, I have a very visceral awareness of the impact my consumption has on other people. The idea of producing zero waste has been fascinating to me since I first heard about it a few weeks ago. It’s a interesting challenge that can overwhelm you if you try to do too much at once.
So, what is Zero Waste? A Zero Waste lifestyle encourages individuals to live more sustainably by reducing, reusing, and recycling. It is an extension of minimalism and environmentalism. So of, course we’re all about it here at Style Lottery.
I see Zero Waste as a challenge for us to take a critical look at our consumption. Are our lives filled with things or do we focus on the people we meet and the experiences that we have with them? Sometimes we have to start small in order to lessen our environmental footprint without going insane. Here are some ways to start:
1. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
I recently switched over to bamboo (Brush with Bamboo) toothbrushes and I loved it! Although I did feel like a hipster brushing my teeth with a wood handle, it felt good knowing that my toothbrush was compostable and would be returning to the earth from where it came. I’m so excited about these toothbrushes that I’m putting them in my family’s stockings this year.
2. Toss out plastic tupperware
As I was moving, I had to decide whether to keep my mountain of mismatched tupperware. I decided glass was a better option because it was more durable and could be microwaved without melting. I also find that glass containers look more aesthetically pleasing when filled with leftovers in the fridge. The price might be a bit higher than plastic, but at this point, I’m looking for a quality option that will last me for a longer time. Glass is it for me. (Hipster tip: Mason jars can also be a good alternative). If you’re someone who likes their food separated, you might want to go for a stainless steel lunch box with sections.
3. Invest in a reusable water bottle
I am a juice fiend. I don’t drink alcohol but I drink juice like it’s wine after a long day. I realized that I wasn’t getting enough water. At first, I would fish for some change and would buy some from the vending machine at school. Then I decided to invest in a reusable water bottle. I chose the Takeya brand because it was on clearance at Ross and it was glass! I was worried I would break it or chip my tooth on the mouth somehow, but I’ve had no trouble with it. The silicone case keeps it from slipping out of my grip. To help me drink more water and less juice, I got the free Water Your Body app. It’s the most annoying and useful app on my phone. It reminds me to…water my body and keeps track of how much I’m drinking every day. I’m very competitive with myself so I always try to beat my record for how early in the day I can reach my water goal. (Hipster tip: You can use a mason jar for hot and cold beverages).
4. Switch to a reusable shopping bag
My friend Julia got me stuck on reusable shopping bags. My mom had given me one a year ago and I always forgot to bring it with me to the store. Julia always had hers tucked away in a pocket of her purse. I noticed that she always got the right amount of food for one person because when her bag was full, she stopped shopping. I, on the other hand, shopped like I was feeding a family of five. Something else that helps in this area is going to farmers markets. Not only is it a great way to get the appropriate amount of fresh produce and veggies, it’s easier for you to buy what you actually need. If you need 3 apples, buy 3 and not the jumbo bag of 12. (Hipster tip: bring mason jars to fill with granola or nuts).
5. Swap your clothes
The hardest thing for me to down-size on was my clothing. In trying to fit all my possessions into 4 suitcases for the move, I realized I had too much stuff and most of it was clothes. It was so surprising and frustrating because hello I’m the sustainable fashion girl! I’m not supposed to have excess clothing. (Those of you interested in down-sizing your wardrobes should check out the Unfancy blog’s Capsule Wardrobe. It challenges you to pick 37 articles of clothing to wear for 3 months. Think you can do it? Check it out here.) I looked through my wardrobe one last time and donated clothing items that I knew I wouldn’t and shouldn’t wear anymore. Two huge piles later, I was finally able to fit all my things into my suitcases. Those of you attending the 2015 Style Lottery swaps will thank me later ;). Donating clothing is a great way to make room for clothes that you actually want. Swapping is an even better option because you give and you get. To check out Style Lottery’s past swaps, click here.
FYI: Trash is for Tossers has a great list of Zero Waste Alternatives. See the full list here.
Would you try some of these zero waste tips? Let me know in the comments which ones you like and which ones you’re already doing!
Click here to read more about sustainability on stylelottery.org