10 Easy Ways to Go Zero-Waste Like a Pro
Taking care of your personal wellness is naturally going to have a ripple effect. And guess what, the size of that ripple can get pretty huge! I’m talking like, globally huge.
In the vast world of the internet, which seems to be increasingly shrinking and expanding at the same time, you may have heard of the term zero-waste. Let’s unpack what that means, and how you can adopt zero-waste practices into your own life and also love the heck out of it.
What Does It Mean to Go Zero-Waste?
Zero-waste literally means what it says. It means a life where no waste is created. Everything is used, reused, recycled, or composted. There is no pollution, trash, or wasted product. This way of living can range from the very minimal, such as using your recycling bin, to very extreme, such living in solar powered home or biking to work instead of taking a car. But this movement has gained more and more traction as we have seen the effects of pollution across the globe, in our oceans, in our water supplies, in our atmosphere, and in our daily lives.
Our way of life and the way we treat the earth is a reflection of how we treat ourselves.
A journey in wellness is going to naturally express outwards in that ripple effect. As we start to treat ourselves with more love, kindness, and compassion, we will do the same with the Earth. That’s why we’re seeing so many movements and initiatives in full swing today.
We Are the Solution
When faced with such a massive problem, it can seem overwhelming. Like, “What can I do as one small person to help this problem?” But when thinking that way we forget that we’re connected to everything else, connected to all, and our choices create a ripple effect that can change so much.
You don’t have to give up driving to work, or purchasing plastic goods if you don’t want to. But I wanted to show 10 easy ways that you can go zero-waste that are so incredible, and so easy, you’ll never look back. These methods are ways that promote wellness for you and also wellness for the planet. So really, it’s a win-win, and an epic no-brainer! Plus, #1 on the list advises you to shop at Anthropologie. Can I get an amen! So, without further ado, let’s dig into this all-star eco-friendly list.
1.) Anthropologie Fabric Napkins
These fabric napkins seem like simple items, sure. They’re also cute, for double sure. But what if I also told you that these simple fabrics helped me eliminate the waste amount of multiple boxes of tissues this year? And they also help save on the usage of paper towels like woah?
Yep. And I recommend these specific fabric napkins from Anthropologie because not only are they luxurious, so cute, and a great reason to shop there, but they are so soft and absorbent. Meaning you can use them for troubled noses this cold & flu season as well as for any needs where you would use a paper towel. We keep these in a napkin holder in the center of our kitchen table. Not only does it add a flair of charm to the kitchen, but no more do I find myself going through an entire box of tissues during an allergy attack either. I’m talking an entire waste basket full of used tissues - no more! If you don’t like the Anthropologie set, there are some great ones on Amazon as well, like this farmhouse-style striped chambray set.
The best part? Just toss them in the washer when you’re ready to clean them, and voila!
2.) Reusable Cups
Disposable drinking cups like coffee cups, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles are a huge factor to the amount of waste that we’re facing. Cups and bottles end up in the ocean and the amount of paper soft drink and coffee cups with plastic lids and straws is crazy. It’s not necessary, either. A good rule of thumb is that if you have plastic bottles or cans, just be sure to recycle them! Super simple. But also purchasing reusable BPA-free containers for your drinks is an awesome choice, too. Especially with coffee! I love the Joco Cups. And many coffee shops actually give you a discount if you bring in your own clean coffee cup. Boo-yah! Also, these cups last forever, can be a sort of accessory, and I guarantee you the coffee will taste better in glass than it does in paper and plastic.
3.) The Diva Cup
Speaking of cups… alright ladies, this one’s for you. And guys, be sure to tell any ladies in your life to read this part! The Diva Cup is exceptional, aka an incredible invention that totally changed my life and allows me to forget that it’s even that time of the month. It’s a reusable silicone cup that replaces traditional pads and tampons. With proper cleaning and care, one cup can last for years. I’ve had mine for about 2 years now. So let’s break it down. The initial cost was $40. And that was it! For two years that’s all I’ve spent on period supplies, save for a couple purchases made while out of town.
According to this Huffington Post article, one woman can spend thousands of dollars on period supplies in her lifetime. She could use over 9,000 tampons, and her total cost could be close to $2,000 just for those tampons alone. That number doesn’t include panty liners, pads, underwear, pain-killers, or any other add-ons. Periods can be expensive. And not to mention, pads and tampons can contain synthetic chemicals as well as create tons of waste.
So, in the 2 years I have had my Diva Cup, I have saved nearly $200 and over 500 tampons from the landfill. I don’t deal with trash at all anymore, because the contents of the cup simply go right down the drain. While it did take a few months for me to get the hang of things, it’s totally worth it, because holy shnikes, once you get it, it just works. I’ve never looked back.
4.) Make It Easy to Recycle
This might seem like a no-brainer, but make it easy and enjoyable to recycle! Create a system where the recycling can is just as accessible as your trash can. If that means making space or rearranging things in your kitchen just a bit, it’s totally worth it. Make it as easy as possible for everyone in your household to recycle, and you will cut down on the amount of waste that gets put into the trashcan that could otherwise be recycled instead.
5.) Donate & Recycle Clothing, Yoga Mats, Shoes, and More
Don’t throw out those old clothes or shoes. Donate them! Not only will you get a tax write-off for donating to a charity, but you can rest easy knowing that your clothing isn’t flooding a landfill, but is instead helping someone in need, or is being recycled. Popular stores are also chiming in with donation and recycling services for plastics, clothing, yoga mats, and shoes, such as these stores below:
6.) Invest in Water Filters
Not only will you save on plastic bottles, but you will have more control over the level of purity of your water. Have you seen the YouTube tests? Not all bottled water is equal, friend! Some bottled water has PH levels so far off balance it’s a little scary. So why not invest in some high-quality water filters instead? I’d recommend two filters at least - one refillable filter pitcher as well as a faucet filter attachment. If your fridge has a filter as well, that counts! The goal is to cut down on water bottle consumption by using refillable cups and your own filters. And once you’re done with your filters, Brita makes it easy to recycle them.
7.) Cast-Iron Cookware Fo’ Life
These aren’t just old-fasioned skillets that are made for cooking cornbread, you know. Cast-iron cookware is touted as some of the safest cookware you can use, because the surface doesn’t leech into the food like nonstick pans or treated skillets can. Non-stick pans are treated with a coating that wears down over time. After a while, new pans are needed and old ones have to be tossed out.
But cast-iron skillets can last a lifetime. With proper care and seasoning, they are just as effective as non-stick skillets, can withstand the test of time, and don’t leech into your food. Cast-iron is a beautiful way to cook, bake, and even take camping! And because they’re so durable and can withstand any type of heat you can throw at it, if you need to save space in your cupboards, simply store them on the racks in your oven.
8.) Canvas Tote Shopping Bags #ForTheWin
Have you ever waddled into your home, struggling to get from your car to the front door with all of the flimsy plastic bags dangling off of each finger? Been there, done that… For some reason anything more than one trip is one trip too many for me. So eliminate the hassle with shopping totes that are made to hold at least four bags full of groceries over your shoulder. 2-4 bags is all you should ever need to invest in to carry all of the groceries you’ll need. Many grocery stores like Publix and Trader Joes sell their own canvas tote bags that you can use. Simply leave them in the trunk of your car and bring them inside when it’s time to shop. Doing this saves on countless plastic bags per year, which is one of the top plastic pollutants in the ocean.
9.) Soaps, Shampoos, Conditioners, Oh My!
When I worked at Lush, I used to say that “Happiness is a big bar of soap.” It became a funny little mantra, and I watched excitedly as people’s eyes opened up to the possibilities of having a container-free products in their bathroom. It is possible! My faves being the solid shampoo bars and conditioner bars that are available along with the soaps. Lush may have been the first to pioneer naked products, or package-free goodies, but you can certainly purchase these options at other stores too. I’ve seen them at plenty of health food shops these days. If you’re not into the solid stuff, you can always be sure to recycle your bottles responsibly.
If possible too, when choosing a shampoo or conditioner, glance at that label and check that your choice is free of liquid plastics inside the product as well. These can be found in any ingredient involving the suffix “cone,” such as dimethicone, amodimethicone, or dimethiconol. These are plastic derivatives and non-biodegradable. These ingredients also only give the illusion of silky hair, because the plastics coat the hair strands instead of actually moisturizing them. When many people switch to natural shampoos, they often complain that their hair doesn’t feel as silky at first - and that’s because plastics aren’t coating the hair strands anymore.
10.) And Lastly, Because We All Love to Eat…
Each year, around 30% of the world’s food production is wasted. Produce gone bad, restaurant food thrown out, grocery stores throwing out surplus of items. This means the energy gone to produce it is wasted as well. Luckily, solutions are cropping up. There are a number of ways you can cut down on food waste.
Freezing excess foods and properly storing and labeling them.
Use reusable containers and utensils when packing a lunch.
Make smart purchases at the store that guarantee food consumption in your household.
Using a growing number of food-pickup apps like Flashfood (US and Canada only), goMkt (NYC only), Food For All (Boston & NYC only) or No Food Waste (India only) that help users pick up discounted food from restaurants, stores, and more.
Donating excess foods to local charities, shelters, or food pantries.
Composting! You can get creative and turn your food waste into plant food by creating a compost bin in your backyard, garden, or in a flower box outside of your window (if you’re in an above-ground level apartment). Composting is a great way to reuse food waste such as produce, eggshells, banana peels, and more.
Make the Process Easy and Enjoyable, One Step at a Time
Just like the journey of personal growth and wellness, making waste-free changes is an incremental process. One switch at a time, one swap at a time, one change at a time. It’s about making it simple and easy, and choosing the methods that resonate with you! For instance, do I use all of the methods above? No, but I’m working on it one step at a time. And that’s okay.
It’s all about looking forward to new solutions and realizing that there is always a better way, so finding those better solutions and making them easy and joyful to implement is a huge and effective solution in and of itself.
Each item in this list represents a powerful change! And you’re powerful! So my hope is that you’re able to come away with one or two items on the list that really resonate with you and make you want to jump into action today. It all starts with us, one change at a time. And you know what’s even more awesome? That these solutions are the kind that support your health and well being, and ones that you’ll never need to look back from. I hope you enjoy implementing them!
Do you have some great zero-waste lifestyle changes that are not listed here? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to add to the list.