If the title of this post caught your attention, then you’re on the right track! Going zero waste doesn’t happen in a day (if you’ve done it, PLEASE, tell me your secret!) The best way to begin the transition into zero waste living is to identify one aspect of your life that produces the most amount of waste. Focus on that area and move onto the next when you're ready!
1. Analyze Your Waste
Begin by reflecting on the aspect of your life that produces the largest amount of waste. For this first step, you need to assess your waste, which can literally mean looking into your garbage and finding the most prevailing waste. It can range from groceries, to beauty products, and cleaning materials, to food delivery containers. I started with my bathroom products for example.
2. Swaps, Swaps, Swaps!
Look at the products you currently use and search for zero waste alternatives. Disclaimer: you do not need to replace all your items at once!! Throwing away your current items that still work or that still have product left, would defeat the purpose of zero waste. Instead, research and pick out sustainable products that you would like to use once the cycle of your current products is over. One popular swap is a bamboo toothbrush as a replacement for a plastic one. Bamboo is biodegradable and is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, so it’s a great renewable resource!
You can also replace your dental floss that usually comes in a plastic container, for a refillable one that comes in a glass container.
What about razors? Have you thought about the amount of money we spend and the amount of waste we create with plastic razors? You can replace it with a stainless steel safety razor, and simply replace the recyclable blades (also stainless steel) when needed.
Another alternative is using bar soaps, shampoos, and conditioners in order to avoid all the unneeded plastic packaging and containers!
3. Refill Stations
Every person has their preferences, and zero waste living can be different for everyone. If you do not love shampoo, conditioner, or soap bars and prefer the liquid form, you can always save the bottles of your products and go to your local refill station. Some allow you to bring your own container, and others offer bottles (usually glass) for you to refill endless times. To find your local refill station you can go to the Zero Waste Home Bulk Finder, type in your zip code and locate the ones in your area. These range from liquid bath and body products to coffee, tea, and bulk food. The purpose of refill stations is to get the product you wish without all the extra packaging!
4. Dispose Properly
You will inevitably still create some waste, but with proper research, you can figure out the best way to dispose of your items. Can it be reused? Composted? Is it recyclable? You can even find donation centers for your items, such as clothes, household appliances, furniture, electronics, books, and so much more!
5. Remember: Progress over perfection!!
Be kind to yourself!! Going zero waste isn’t easy and sometimes waste happens and that’s okay! Your road to zero waste will be your own and doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. We may never reach the “zero” in zero waste, but every step forward is a win! The impact these habit changes will have on your life will be uniquely gratifying. You will be contributing to the well being of the environment, creating a healthy community, and even saving money!