If you made or are thinking of making the decision to live a zero waste lifestyle, you’ve probably come to this conclusion for a reason. After all, this lifestyle isn’t easy; it can come with a lot of conscious choices you have to make on a daily basis.
Transitioning into a lifestyle where you’re consciously buying, repurposing or disposing of products is just that – a transition. It will take time, patience and possibly a financial change of pace.
However, the benefits are worth the effort – and we’re not just talking about the environment. If you’re looking to start living a zero waste lifestyle, the best place to start is at home, and we have insights from Kathryn Kellogg, founder of Going Zero Waste, on how you can get started.
What Does Zero Waste Mean?
Zero waste is a concept that conscientiously considers the complete lifecycle of a product, from production to consumption to disposal, with the intention of eliminating landfills as the final destination.
“We aim to send nothing to a landfill,” explained Kellogg. “We reduce what we need, reuse as much as we can, send little to be recycled, and compost what we cannot.”
For a zero waste system to be achieved, the production process must be designed to prevent wasteful and polluting practices and instead find ways of reusing the existing materials.
“Instead of discarding resources, we create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system,” added Kellogg.
Kellogg asserted that the production process must be circular rather than the linear to reach the zero waste goal. This means that instead of going from production to disposal (typically in a landfill), the product would be designed to prevent wasteful and polluting practices and instead find ways of reusing the existing materials.
Can You Truly Live Zero Waste?
While striving to live a zero waste lifestyle can positively impact your health and overall quality of life, Kellogg explains that no one can live entirely zero waste.
“No one can truly live zero waste unless you’re completely off the grid, but there are certainly major steps you can take to reduce your household trash and mimic a circular economy in your own home,” she explains.
Perhaps you want to have a positive impact on the environment, or you might be tired of using products with toxins and chemicals and going zero waste might lead to a healthier lifestyle. It’s important to have a reason for your change in lifestyle in order to motivate you and keep you on track.
It’s also important to know that change takes time, and just by you making the choice to consider your carbon footprint, you’ll notice not only a change in the way you live your life but also the quality of your life altogether.
How to Live Zero Waste at Home
You don’t realize how much waste you have in your home until you’re actually conscious of it, so when you start living a zero waste lifestyle, you might recognize opportunities where you can make a change. Kellogg suggested starting with reusables.
“View every disposable product you use as throwing away money because that’s what you’re doing,” said Kellogg. “Stop paying for trash and choose to reuse.”
If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, Kellogg suggested starting with the four big areas of waste in your home and address them by making these changes:
- Cotton shopping bags instead of plastic bags
- A glass water bottle instead of plastic water bottles
- Stainless steel straws instead of plastic straws
- A bamboo coffee cup instead of to-go coffee cups
If you feel confident with taking it a step further, here are some other substitutions you can make in your home that will help.
Rethink Single-Use Products
Single-use products make up a lot of the waste you use in your home. They don’t have a long life span and tend to be made of materials that can’t be recycled, such as paper towels, paper tissues, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, plastic bags and so on.
Instead of accumulating waste on products you can only use once, swap out everyday waste for products that are durable, reusable and, most importantly, recyclable.
- Organic Cotton Handkerchief – $15 (three-piece set)
- Glass Canister Set – $40 (five-piece set)
- Beeswax Food Wrap – $19
Try Making Your Own Natural Cleaners
Another small change in your home can be found in your household cleaners. Instead of buying separate cleaners for windows, floors, counters and so on, consider making a few natural cleaners that are multifunctional.
Make sure you’re also rethinking your cleaning equipment along with your products. Materials like sponges tend to grow bacteria and have a short life span. Instead, opt for cloth rags and wood brushes to get the job done. They’re easier to clean, and when you do need to dispose of them, can be recycled instead of thrown in a landfill.
Redefine Your Hygiene Routine
Out of all of these lifestyle changes, your hygiene might take the longest to fully transition. Most people have their go-to brands of hygiene products, but the packaging is usually anything but recyclable and tends to go right in the trash after use.
Instead, opt for items that are made from organic natural materials or come with recyclable packaging. Try these:
- Organic Bamboo Toothbrush – $12 (4-piece set)
- Shampoo and Conditioner Bars – $13 (3-piece set)
- Body Wash Bar – $10
Avoid feeding your leftovers to the landfill by starting a compost bin. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, your compost pile should include:
- Browns, like dead leaves, branches and twigs
- Greens, such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and coffee grounds
- Water (for compost development)
If you have a green thumb and are looking to enrich your garden, compost can be added to soil to help plants grow. However, if you have no use for your compost, find a local composter to come to pick up your pile to be put to good use.
Change Takes Time
The most important takeaway is that you can’t (and won’t) go zero waste overnight. Not only are you making a huge lifestyle change, you might also find that going zero waste will also take some financial consideration, as you might have to buy new products to fulfill this new lifestyle.
Make sure you take time to identify and prioritize where the most waste is coming from in your home and slowly take time transitioning into zero waste by replacing items as you go.
Are you currently living a zero waste lifestyle? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!
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