WHY + HOW I’m Working Towards Zero-Waste

It’s important to me that I practice what I preach, especially when it comes to sustainability. 

I have been thinking frequently these last few months about packaging, plastic, etc. I care a lot about what I put into my body – fresh produce, minimal processing, whatever – but I have not before thought about how that goodness is delivered to me. Every piece of plastic I’ve ever purchased is still sitting on this planet, and that’s really strange to think about. I also currently live in a city that does not recycle efficiently at all – this lil mountain town has to truck plastic and aluminum recycling to our nearest big town, 2+ hours away, so it makes sense that it does not happen frequently. I can take my glass recyclables somewhere in town, but it’s not convenient. There are some things I have not swapped for zero-waste alternatives, like toothpaste and shampoo. I am more conscious of buying products with biodegradable ingredients, but they still come in plastic. However, zero-waste is a journey that require I take baby steps, so I am starting where I can.

Easy swaps I’ve made:

  • Reusable produce bags. I toss plastic bags as soon as I arrive home anyway. You could make your own if you’re crafty, but I bought my set on Amazon.
  • Reusable K-Cup. I buy great coffee in bulk from my grocery store and get specialty roasts from local coffee shops. I already had a Keurig, which I love, but a French Press is the trendier plastic-free option for coffee.
  • No boxed berries. For my morning oats, I switched from strawberries to apples and cinnamon; also delicious, without the plastic. Looking forward to picking my own strawberries during the season and perhaps jarring them.
  • Shopping bulk bins. I spend the majority of my weekly trip in the bulk section, though I have never before shopped at a store with bulk bins. Rice, nuts, oats, beans, and other dry goods all get put in my reusable produce bags. I still have to use little twisty tags to write item numbers for the cashiers, but it’s better than a whole plastic bag. Use this handy locator to find bulk shops near you.
  • Making my own food products I’ve previously bought canned, like black beans and vegetable broth. Freeze nicely so they really just require work on one afternoon.
  • Shopping secondhand first. I live in a city without many major retailers, so when I need new jeans, jars, whatever, I thrift.
  • Composting! Food waste emits methane when trapped in a landfill, and methane is a greenhouse gas more impactful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. If you have a backyard, it’s easy to set up your own system. I live in an apartment and take mine to a friend’s house, but can also compost at my local farmers market. 

The internet is full of inspiring people that have been on the road to zero-waste for a long while. Some of my favorite resources are:

 

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