If you clicked on this blog posting, then you’re probably like me, just an average person who wants to consume less waste. My desire to consume less waste didn’t come about overnight; it was after reading a few articles that really made my heart sink.
I’m sure most of you have seen the video of the sea turtle with a plastic straw up his/her nose. As the big animal lover that I am, this video killed me. I can’t even imagine the type of pain this turtle was feeling because I’ve never had a plastic straw up my nose blocking my breathing, that is something we have caused onto others. This video was a big reason why I stopped using plastic straws and bought my own reusable ones.
The next video made my blood boil (and it should make everyone else’s as well because this is our only planet). The video I’m talking about is the one where you see a plastic bag floating along the deepest trench in our ocean: the Mariana Trench. The Mariana Trench is 36,070 feet (10,994 meters) below sea level and there’s seriously a plastic bag floating around because of US. There is no one to blame except humans and our obsession with waste consumption.
I want to be clear, I am not a person who can fit their entire years’ worth of trash inside a mason jar, however, I am someone making small steps every day to make sure I consume less waste. Throughout this whole process, I learned that the best way to lessen your waste consumption is through practice, patience, and putting in a little bit more effort than usual. There is always an alternative if you think about it for a few seconds; even a quick google search will help you find better alternatives.
One important lesson I learned from my experience trying to consume less waste is to always start small. Start with a few small steps and perfect those before you try and completely change your lifestyle overnight; too many changes at once will always end poorly. That’s why the list I created below is only a few bullet points, so I don’t overwhelm you. I want this list to provide you simple steps to incorporate into your everyday lives.
Let’s start with one of my most common ways of reducing waste and one of the easiest to get started on being eco-conscious or waste-free. They’re easy to find, I purchased mine at a local grocery store where they sell reusable canvas bags at the check-out lanes. I think I have 6 canvas bags I like to keep in my car at any given moment. In the beginning, I kept forgetting them in the car when I went grocery shopping, I have the WORSE memory and was tired of realizing I forgot them while entering the store, going back out to get them, and coming back inside to finish my shopping. To fix my memory issues, I now keep my canvas bags in the passenger seat of my car. Now, when I park, I see them sitting next to me and grab them right then and there.
Reusable Water Bottle
Another easy purchase to start consuming less. You can seriously go anywhere to buy a reusable water bottle (preferably a glass bottle, because glass is easily recyclable). I bought a reusable glass water bottle from Target for $14.99. The water bottle I purchased is from the brand Ello, it has an easy pop-open lid, is BPA-free, AND its dishwasher safe! I keep this bottle in my car and never forget it for work.
Bring Silverware to Work
I hate using plasticware and I hate the fact that it’s a single-use item. I know people who will keep their plasticware, so they can wash them in the dishwasher so they can reuse them later. While this is not a bad idea, I have a co-worker who used to do this for a while until one plastic spoon fell out and almost started a fire in her dishwasher. Thankfully, she was home when this incident happened, but I can only imagine the damages if she wasn’t home. Not only is purchasing single-use plasticware wasteful on the environment it’s also wasteful for your wallet. Buy silverware and bring them to work. Once I’m done eating my meal, I will wash it in the sink then put it in my purse to take home.
Pack your lunch the night before and put a fork or spoon in your purse or lunchbox so you won’t forget.
This one is easy to buy, however, this one has been trickier to use constantly and for a few reasons. The main reason why reusable straws are a hard transition is that Alec and I kept accidentally throwing them away in the beginning. We were so used to throwing away the whole cup, straw included, that when we were using our reusable straw, we forgot about it when throwing it out. We started off with 8 reusable straws and now we are down to 3. Now we are more conscious of our actions and make sure to take the straw out before throwing it out, but still, the damages are done and we lost 5 brave straw souls to our carelessness.
Another reason why it was a harder transition to use reusable straws than I had originally thought is if they weren’t right in front of me, I would still end up using a plastic straw. This was an easy fix, however, because I now keep 2 straws in my car so whenever I get a drink in the drive-thru I don’t need to ask for a straw because I have one in my glove department. I also keep one at work because I like to get Dunkin Donuts coffee every now and then. So, when I want my coffee fix, I can rest assure that I have a reusable straw in my desk. Or somewhere because they’re scattered around like Easter eggs now.
That’s it! Those are the 4 small steps I took to lessen my waste consumption and while I may not be a complete expert now, I am proud of all the conscious steps I’m making to use less waste. Sometimes it feels like it’s almost impossible to not consume any type of waste because my biggest issue has been packaging.
The perfect example is, when I purchased my reusable straws from Amazon, they arrived at my apartment wrapped in plastic packaging. I purchased reusable straws to create less waste, yet it came packaged in something that needs to be thrown out anyway, and it was made from plastic!!
I also really like tea and after all this time searching for a brand that sells loose tea leaves without being individually wrapped, I have FINALLY found one! It’s sad to me, that it took me years to find a tea brand that sells loose tea leaves without packaging. I wish there were stores in south Florida that sold tea but unfortunately, there aren’t.
And don’t even get me started on cereal, it comes in cardboard packaging, however, the cereal is always kept in plastic. I personally believe it would be extremely difficult for someone to go 100% waste-free because of the way companies package their products. I’m not sure how people can fit their whole years’ worth of trash into a mason jar but I’m sure they had to completely change their lifestyle to manage that. While that is their journey to using less waste, this is my journey and though it’s not perfect at least I’m trying. Even if I do forget my canvas bags sometimes.
A Simple Wildflower