With Earth Day around the corner, consumers may find pieces of the zero-waste movement surfacing on advertisements in their social media feeds. Zero-wasters aim to send nothing to the landfill or recycling centers, rendering their trash bins useless. This movement was made in an effort to combat the extensive pollution from non-degradable single use products. The biggest culprit many zero-wasters seek to avoid is the everpresent plastic.
Many eco-conscious people become overwhelmed at the thought of total zero-waste living. The idea of generating no waste and using zero plastic is seemingly impossible. In today’s world, it nearly is. Abandoning perfection is an essential piece of working towards eco-conscious living. When we hold ourselves to nearly unrealistic standards, we are more likely to fail and discount our progress. If you are looking to explore a life of less waste, try incorporating the following steps. They may seem small, but over time, they amount to less waste in our landfills.
Use the bulk section!
Most major grocery stores have a bulk bin section. Here, you can fill bags full of grains, beans, seeds, cereal, etc. The variety depends on the store, but generally you can replace many of your staples in this section. To make this experience more eco-friendly, reuse bags that you have at home while you transition to canvas or other sturdy reusable bags.
Switch to bar soaps
To avoid single use plastic in the bathroom, switch to bar soap products when possible. Aim to purchase soaps that are wrapped in paper or “naked”—with no packaging at all. Even if you hold onto some of your favorite products that are wrapped in plastic, switching one or two of your shower staples can have a huge impact over time.
Opt for glass containers
When searching for your grocery staples, shoot to find a comparable product in a glass container. This isn’t always possible, nor do all glass products have zero plastic. However, the overall amount of plastic is far less. Plus, you can reuse the jars for food storage and bulk shopping (just weigh the tare first).
Ditch the paper towels and napkins
In lieu of the paper towel rolls and napkins, switch to reusable cloth napkins and rags. Old towels and worn-out tee shirts can be sliced to make cleaning rags. If you want a cheaper and even more eco-friendly switch for napkins, purchase cloth napkins from a second hand store and give them a deep clean in the washing machine.
Forego the produce bags
Many shoppers feel the need to place their produce in single-use plastic bags. To skip the bag altogether, lay a reusable grocery bag on the bed of your cart and place produce on top. If you prefer to keep some products in a bag, either reusable or washed/pre-used produce bags can be used.
Storing food without your bags from Step 5 may seem daunting. For your veggies, wash, chop, dry, and store as soon as you can. You can keep cleaned and cut vegetables in your preferred reusable containers (jars and tupperware, for example). However, fruits and veggies are precarious and individual. A quick internet search can give you tips to ensure you are maximizing your food’s shelf life.
For your pantry items, pour bulk goods into jars or any other pantry containers you may have.
Your produce scraps, eggshells, yard waste, and coffee grounds can be mixed together to make quality garden mulch. While these degradable scraps would eventually break down in a landfill, the environmental benefits of composting for garden mulch are vast. If you do not have a backyard or are unable to compost, you can save your scraps for neighbors and friends who garden.