One of my goals for 2018 was to reduce my carbon footprint. I used to think that simply separating plastic and paper was enough, but I didn’t realize how my consumerism truly affected the environment.
After the trucks pick up our plastic, where does it really go? In my mind, I would imagine those milk jugs, plastic bags, etc. would turn into a nice park bench or a hair brush. I was wrong. After reading an article on NPR, I learned that the US exported half of its recyclables and nearly half of that went to China. Well, China has recently put a ban on 24 kinds of solid wastes.
This full documentary called A Plastic Ocean shows the devastating effects of our love of so-called 'disposable' plastics.
I believe in climate change and that humans are the major contributors to that change. I also believe that if we collectively make changes, we can help turn things around.
Before deciding on going zero-waste, I thought I was going to be a minimalist. After watching a documentary on minimalism, I went through my place and started getting rid of items that I didn’t need or use. The first pass yielded 3 large garbage bags full of clothes and household items. I felt good, but I looked around and saw that I still had a lot of stuff. So, I did another pass and this time I got one large bag full of household items. However, I still had too much stuff to be considered ‘minimalist’. And I realized…I like my stuff. I got rid of what I didn't need, but what I kept, I really like and I didn’t want to get rid of it.
I like the idea of zero-waste because it's although it's a lofty goal to achieve and I enjoy challenging myself and the people around me. It was also a way that I can contribute to the environment. I'm already a vegan, but taking it one step further into my everyday choices makes me feel accountable and good about myself.
The 5 R’s of Zero Waste.
I began employing the 5 Rs in my everyday life. Not only do I refuse what I don’t need, but I try to avoid buying products that come in unnecessary packaging. I even switched my brand of peanut butter because the one I used to purchase came in a plastic jar and found one that comes in glass. I now shop at thrift stores and consignment first to find gently used items before buying new. I also question, "Do I really need this?"
As mentioned above, I reduced what I didn't need by donating gently used clothes and household items. I find ways to reuse the items I already have such as glass jars. (Read here to learn how to remove labels from your jars.) I've become more diligent about separating my recyclables and I started composting my food scraps.
Small Changes, Big Impact
As with anything, when you're starting a new lifestyle, whether it's a diet or zero-waste, making small changes eases you into it and minimizes your chances to fail (and if you fail, forgive yourself and try again). Some people go in head first and they're successful. I am they type of person that likes to evolve into my new role by making small changes. Once I've mastered those, I find more ways I can make changes into my life.
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Here are some of the changes that I made in my home.
I have already started to see how my trash has gone down considerably since making these changes as well as the amount of money I'm saving by not buying everything I see because it's on sale. If I don't need it, I don't get it. If I need it, I see if I can find it used first.
There are still places where I need to improve. I have tupperware in my car for when I go out to eat, but keep forgetting to bring it with me. I also have to remember to tell the server that I don't need a straw before they plop it in my water.
Are you going zero-waste? What changes are you making in your home? Let me know if the comments.
Scarlett is a business owner and lover of pretty things. She started this blog to share some of her witticisms and favorite things.