I consider myself very green: I recycle; I buy raw soap from the health food store; I carry my own reusable Swell Bottle for coffee and water; I always bring my own bag and decline any additional plastic wrapping; I wrap gifts in recycled paper or old newspaper. You get the idea... But when I discovered that Lauren Singer, whose blog Trash is For Tossers is dedicated to documenting her commitment to living zero waste, managed to generate only a mason jar of trash in two years, I realized there was so much more I could be doing. I reached out to Lauren and she agreed to let me share her tips for achieving a zero-waste life. Are you up for the challenge?
Lauren Singer's Two Steps To Zero Waste:
I have outlined two easy steps to take as you work towards Zero Waste! These should be repeated periodically as the path to zero waste is never-ending. Always strive to downsize, find better alternatives, and educate yourself.
- Evaluate: the first step is to take a look at your daily life and ask yourself the following questions:
- How much garbage am I currently producing and what types? Ex: food packaging- this can help you determine the places you can start reducing and looking for alternatives.
- Why am I even interested in decreasing my impact? Is it for the environment, is it to decrease toxins in my life, is it to decrease clutter, is it because i’m totally broke and want to save money? Really understand your motivators and use them as a place to start decreasing what you use.
- What do I actually use on a daily basis (what is in my daily routine) and what do I not use/need? This can help you determine the things that you can donate and reduce.
- What products do I use that I can get more sustainable alternatives to? Ex: exchanging plastic tupperware for glass or mason jars.
-The most important one straight from Yoda's lips: How much and what do I really need to be happy? Really assess why you own and hold on to certain things, and determine if you really need that giant foam finger in the back of your closet to be happy.
2. Transition: start to downsize and properly dispose of the unnecessary things:
- Bring a reusable bag and water bottle with you everywhere!
- Get rid of the plastic. From tupperware to take away bags plastic is toxic. For items that are lightly used, donate to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. For products that are recyclable, like plastic, do so.
- Replace these products with sustainable, long-lasting alternatives. Such as Organic cotton, stainless steel, wood, and glass. Donate your crappy college plastic kitchenware for some nice glass, stainless steel, or cast iron. It is sexy.
- Be creative. Figure out what you can use in different ways. Organic cotton napkins can also be used as a drying rack, to store leafy greens in the fridge, or to bring lunch to work. Mason jars can be used for coffee, takeout, leftovers, toothbrush holders, lotion dispensers...
- Make your home your sanctuary. For me that means having a few things that are really important to me. Most of mine were either handed down to me or obtained on craigslist. Secondhand!
- Minimize. Ask yourself, what do I not need? What do I wear every day? What did I buy last year that still has tags on it? Whatever it is, it most likely has a value of some sort. Whether it is donating to your local Goodwill or Housing Works, or selling your products at a consignment store or on Ebay, you can always get a return on your items.
- Think Organic, think Local, think Sustainable and BUY IN BULK.