It’s pretty daunting thinking about tangible ways you can reduce the amount of waste you make. There are whole islands in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans made of trash washed away from the US and other surrounding countries that only keep growing. There are microplastics all throughout the water column that sealife eats and dies from. These are some small changes that can make big impacts if kept up and passed on to others.
- Reusable water bottle-This was honestly the first thing I did to reduce using disposable water bottles back in High School. I now have one with me everywhere I go. You can take an empty one to any flights and fill it up after you go through security and save money by not spending $5 on a bottle of water by the terminal.
- Lunch bag and tupperware- I started doing this when I got my job after college. Its easy to use sandwich bags or paper bags that you just chuck into the trash can in the lunch room. But you will save money in the long run by just purchasing tupperware once and reusing it over and over.
- Reusable shopping bags- California no longer gives out bags for free when you shop, they are just 10 cents but it definitely pushes you to buy reusable bags. They are usually just a dollar or a bit more and they are very durable. You can also find sets of them on Amazon too.
- Recycle- When I do have waste I see if it is possible to recycle it. While it does take an extra step of rinsing out the food or liquid on the jar or carton, you reduce so much of what ends up in landfills.
- Compost- With all the veggies I cook with there are little pieces that are cut off in the preparation and it never felt good throwing it all away when there is another alternative. I am doing more research into the best way to compost at my house and then I’ll be getting the supplies to start composting.
- Reusable produce bags- On the topic of doing things that just didn’t feel good, those thin produce bags only ended up in the trash in my house. The Whole Foods in my town switched to compostable produce bags, but I wanted to pick something up that was reusable. I found this set on Amazon.
- Buy in bulk- I always try to get as much as I can without a plastic wrapping. When I need to buy nuts, I get it from the bulk section. I pack up my fruits and veggies in my reusable bags instead of buying them in prepackaged bags. I love Trader Joe’s but I hate that a lot of their vegetables are in plastic bags.
- Donate clothes- Trends go in and out of fashion, and my own tastes have changed as I have gotten older. Instead of holding on to those items cluttering your closet, donate or sell your clothes so they can be used by someone who needs it.
- Buy used clothes- Not only does this help reduce the waste ending up in a landful, you will save a lot of money. I love Poshmark for purchasing used clothes. Other options are Thredup and Depop. Then there is the old-fashioned way of buying used clothes: go to a thrift shop!
- Reusable cotton rounds for skincare- I found out these existed from a vegan and cruelty-free youtuber that also practices minimalism. I have started using a spray toner 1) so less product gets sucked up by the cotton rounds and 2) so I don’t have something else to throw away. But for the few things I need a cotton round for, I feel much better using these.
- Menstrual cup- I’ve been using a Diva Cup for over a year now and I can’t imagine going back. I wrote about menstrual cups a year ago and I still use mine.
- No “Goo Hoarding”- I got this term from a Jenna Marbles video a few years ago. Goo Hoading is what a lot of women (and I’m sure some men) do with shampoos/conditioners or other hair products or makeup by holding onto bottles that are on the verge of being empty or are half full but we have moved onto a new bottle or a new brand that works better for us. Either return the product early on if you don’t like it, pass it on to someone who would use it, or use it up before using the new one. For makeup, definitely throw away old makeup; it does expire and you dont want that on your face.
- Reduce Impulse buying- This can apply to clothes, makeup, or household products. This can create a lot of clutter, but a lot of times you wear it or use it once and becomes forgotten. It’ll end up in the trash and it could’ve been avoided if you were more mindful during your purchasing.
- Bring a mug to work- This is a new practice for me. I was using the disposable coffee cups at work and I’d end up using and throwing away up to 3 a day. I can use it for tea and then for water if I forget my water bottle.
- Buy local when possible- I live in a relatively small town with not a lot of health food stores where I can find affordable options of my staples, so I do rely a lot on online shopping. But for things I know I can get in my hometown, I get out of my house and pick those up.
- Use ebooks or buy used books- A lot of people are hopping on to the kindle and electronic way of reading books. I still own a kindle and loved using it to carry lots of books on the go. I am definitely one of those people who love reading out of a physical book so I have started looking for used copies of books I want to buy. This is also a way to get rid of books you have read already and don’t plan on reading again. Sell your copies, pass them off to friends who will enjoy them, or donate to a library, shelter, or organization that would need them.
These are quite a few different things to add into your daily life but even if you add one in every few months it will make a huge difference in the long run. To keep the plastic out of where it doesn’t belong, part of the battle is not using disposables and part of the battle is making something last past its “life.” I buy reusable products made out of plastic but they last so much longer than items made to be thrown away. I still have a long way to go to be zero waste and plastic but I am definitely working towards that.