Reduce Plastic,  Zero Waste

Week 44: Go Trashless

Zero waste is a term for a lifestyle that aims to produce – you guessed it – zero waste. It’s a wonderful idea but actually a really horrible name for an amazing movement because it’s actually impossible in our current culture to produce no waste. But in our attempts to get to zero, we can find a low waste lifestyle that produces much less garbage than average. Which, you know…. Is pretty important these days.

Here’s some horrible trash facts:

  1. The average American throws away more than 7 pounds of garbage a day. That’s around 102 tons in a lifetime.
  2. In the US, Americans toss 60 million water bottles daily, which is nearly 700 each minute.
  3. Americans throw away 28 billion pounds of food a year, which is about 25 percent of the US food supply.
  4. 10% of the world’s oil supply is used to make and ship disposable plastics – items like plastic utensils, plates, and cups that are used just one time and thrown away.
  5. On average, Americans use 500 plastic bags per capita each year.

Ready to reduce the trash in your life? Here are the steps that we took in our household that really made a difference:

  1. Groceries
    • Try to buy items in cardboard and glass that can be recycled.
    • Buy in bulk with reusable containers. Most major grocery stores have bulk options and will allow you to bring your own bags and jars. Make sure to weigh them before filling them! Bulk Barn is a great option if you have one around you.
    • Buy fresh fruits and veg without plastic. Bring cloth bags or just put the produce straight in your cart!
    • For storing your food, stick to mason jars and beeswax wraps. That will help get rid of all that plastic wrap and crappy plastic Tupperware.
  2. Bathroom stuff
    • There are lots of low waste shampoo and conditioner options. We buy bulk in our own containers at a local store, but there are shampoo bars, homemade options, or even the “no poo” method.
    • Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic. I’d recommend checking out some online stores listed at the end of this article for dental options.
    • Switch to a straight razor. I haven’t made this switch yet as we are still working through a mega pack of pink plastic disposable razors but I’ve heard it’s a great swap.
  3. Clothes
    • Buy second hand and bring your own bag. This helps keep clothes out of the landfill, saves you money, and breaks the fast fashion cycle.
    • Trade or swap clothes. A great way to keep your wardrobe looking fresh and getting rid of items you don’t wear.
    • Keep it simple. Focus on a few key pieces of clothing rather than buying a whole bunch of cheap clothes.
  4. Out and About
    • Here’s my standard kit that goes around with me: cutlery, metal straws, water bottle, travel mug, mason jar, and cloth napkins.
    • Get in the habit of asking for things without the plastic. Practice saying “no straw please” a couple of times in the mirror. It actually makes a big difference!

If you can make these swaps, you’ll start to notice a drastic reduction in the amount of trash you’re putting to the curb every week. And you’ll start to become more conscious of the trash that you’re making. You’ll notice every straw, plastic wrapped vegetable, plastic bag. And then pat yourself on the back for doing awesome and amazing work. Don’t worry about being perfect – everyone makes mistakes and that’s okay. But every piece of trash you keep out of the landfill makes a difference!

If you’re looking for some zero waste products or don’t have bulk options locally, I’d recommend checking out these stores where you can buy online.

And here are some great websites that talk more about the zero waste lifestyle:

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