A low-waste lifestyle is a great way to help out the environment on an individual level. However, it might seem like there’s a lot of rules to follow or statistics to know that makes it hard to know where to start. Everyone starts out as a beginner and goes at their own pace. If you want to start lowering your environmental footprint, start with the waste you throw out.
When you are easing into a low-waste lifestyle, it’s important to remember that the small actions really add up in the bigger picture. Even now at grocery stores, the clerk will still ask you if you want paper or plastic. Keeping the environment in mind, this may seem like having to choose the lesser of two evils. If you bring your own reusable bag, you can avoid this dilemma. Investing in a reusable tote bag will definitely reduce the amount of plastic you use every time you go grocery shopping. Plastic bags around the produce section are definitely not necessary, so place any fruits or vegetables in your bag and they will be just fine. Single-use plastic bags seem to do nothing but take up space in your home. Plus, the canvas material of the bag is less likely to rip so you can avoid disaster as you leave the store.
Drinking water is essential to living. There’s no question about it. In fact, you should probably reach for some water in a reusable bottle right now if you’re reading this. Reusable water bottles are essential to a low-waste lifestyle. Especially the bottles that hold the amount of water you should be drinking in a day. It’s a win-win for the planet and your health. Reusable coffee cups also reduce the amount of waste you produce if you need a cup to start your day. By carrying coffee in your own cup, you will also be saving money by not buying a disposable cup every day. Depending on which chain you go to and where you live, you might even get a discount for bringing in a reusable cup. The planet and your wallet will thank you.
Give containers new life
After all, the second R stands for “reuse”. This means that some packing that is considered disposable could be used again and again. Glass and plastic jars are the perfect examples of this. Once these jars are empty, give them a nice wash and make sure that there are no traces of food or whatever was in there previously. You now have a new container that you can use for whatever you want! Whether it is for food storage or office supplies, jars are pretty versatile and are better when repurposed instead of thrown away.
Bring your own silverware
Before you leave to go start your day of classes or work, make sure to have your own set of silverware. It could be utensils you brought from home or a set that you bought specifically to be your on-the-go utensils. By bringing your own, you won’t have to throw away plastic utensils every time you go on your lunch break. If you think about it, this really adds up and saves a lot of waste being thrown out. Plus, it’s more sanitary to have utensils that only you use. The same applies to straws. Most of the time you don’t really need a straw for your drink, but if you do, opt for a steel or aluminum straw that you can use again. You don’t know where those plastic utensils have been! You could use your own set of plastic utensils, but it is more sustainable to bring actual silverware or utensils made from bamboo.
Do it yourself
We throw out a lot of products once we are finished with them, mostly the hair and hygienic products. By looking up ways to make these products yourself, you control what goes in them. DIY deodorants and shampoos can easily be made using essential oils and natural ingredients. You can look up different recipes for homemade shampoos here and choose the ones that suit your taste. These natural solutions also make it possible to create a large quantity so you are not continually throwing out bottles once you are done with them.
Ditch fast food
Fast food restaurants thrived under the guise that disposable wrapping was considered more convenient for consumers. Yet, this led to a lot of waste being created as a result of eating out at fast food places especially. Once you’ve gotten your food, you might notice how much you are throwing out after you have finished eating from wrapping to the bag itself. This can’t really be helped, unfortunately, so the best thing to do is to eat fast food less frequently and bring your own food in reusable lunch bags to classes or work. This helps reduce the amount of waste and also is a healthier option. Noticing a pattern here?
Not only do the items you use in your everyday life have the potential to be reused, but so does your food. Coffee grounds, Food scraps or fruit peels can be reused as compost for your backyard garden! Here is a guide if you want to learn more about composting and its benefits. By starting composting, you are literally giving back to the earth and saving food from being wasted after it is thrown away.
Don’t worry about being perfect
When you are first starting your low-waste lifestyle, don’t expect everything to be perfect right away. It can be a drastic change, especially if it’s the first time you have tried to shift away from disposable items. If you make a mistake like forgetting your reusable water bottle at home or if the grocery store cashier gives you a plastic bag anyway, don’t beat yourself up. Whether you are choosing this lifestyle for environmental reasons or a way to save money, sometimes life gets in the way. You may accidentally throw away a straw or plastic spoon, but won’t be the end of the world. Your efforts have certainly made a difference, and your choice in lifestyle will continue to make a difference.