5 Realistic Zero Waste Ideas
I’ve been on my zero waste journey for roughly two years and during this time, I came to quickly realize that some swaps were easier to accomplish compared to some.
& now that I’ve personally gotten the hang of the easier eco-friendly swaps, I’ve started to do more extreme swaps like for example, I don’t like food packaging so I’ve started to go to separate locations to shop (mostly) packaged-free. I visit the local farmers market for in-season fruits and vegetables. I go to Publix (our local grocery store) with my canvas bags with one specifically used for the other types of fruits and vegetables that I couldn’t locate at the local farmer’s market; no need to use that small plastic baggie. I also don’t want to purchase my meats from Publix because it’s packaged in styrofoam and saran wrap that I personally hate!! I would rather search for a local meat store that cuts the meat in front of you and wrap it up in paper, but I’m still on the search for a place like this locally.
While I continue my extreme eco-friendly ways, I’ll leave you with the top 5 eco-friendly swaps that I personally found easy to stick to than some other tips I read. Of course, my list may not seem easy to everyone, but if you want to be more eco-friendly in your everyday life then the 5 items below will be a very good start.
- Swap plastic toothbrush for a metal/bamboo toothbrush: I personally purchased a metal toothbrush by quip, but I know not everyone will want to spend $40 on a metal toothbrush when the same brand has a plastic toothbrush option for only $25. I purchased the metal toothbrush because it’s better for the environment and it looks sleeker than their plastic version. With the price tag set aside, I’m really enjoying my quip toothbrush because it times out a two-minute brush session so you don’t under or over brush, it pulses when it’s time to switch sides, and it’s reusable; only the toothbrush head needs to be replaced every 3 months instead of the whole toothbrush.
- Swap plastic containers for glass: There is no way I’m going back to using plastic containers to store my crockpot recipes or leftovers! Absolutely no way because using glass has been completely life-changing. First off, I treat my containers WAY better after switching to the glass material because the quality between the two is basically night and day. & the second thing is whatever food you’ve stored in your glass container, you can immediately put it in the microwave to heat up and eat. You just cannot do that with plastic containers because they’ll melt in the microwave and produce toxic gas. & going back to quality, I’ve noticed that over time plastic containers will eventually stain with no amount of washing to fix it, while glass containers keep their cleanliness.
- Swap dryer sheets with wool balls: This may be the easiest switch of them all because all you need to do is purchase one thing of wool balls and keep them in your dryer. That’s it!! They usually package these bad boys in a set of two and it took me a couple of minutes to finally toss them into my cart, but I’m so glad I did! The reason I fell in love with my wool ball purchase was that they help fluff your clothes and help dry your clothes at a faster rate than with normal dryer sheets. This purchase was an all-around win because I love not having to use our dryer as often and it helps save on electricity.
- Swap paper towels with cloth towels: A ton of people think getting rid of paper towels is nearly impossible and absolutely unattainable, but I’m here to tell you that isn’t true at all! It was July 2018, when Alec and I decided not to buy another roll of paper towels when we ran out of our last roll. My boyfriend had the obvious concerns, but I told him we’ll just use the MANY hand towels we own and if we need to really purchase paper towels in the future, we will. He agreed to those terms and we’re now going over a year without purchasing a single paper towel roll. We haven’t purchased a paper towel roll because our cloth towels have turned out to be way more convenient for wiping our hands while eating and better for truly cleaning up small and large spills throughout the house. AND cloth towels can be washed and reused over and over again.
- Swap plastic bags for canvas bags: I’m ending this list with another easier swap; switching from using a plastic bag to using a reusable canvas bag. This is an easy switch because canvas bags are relatively cheap to purchase and you only need to purchase what you believe you’ll need. For us, we’re using roughly 6-8 bags for a full grocery shopping trip. & you don’t need to purchase a canvas bag from the grocery store. I’ve seen some really cute reusable canvas bags from Marshalls and TJ Maxx!
Are you currently on an eco-friendly (zero waste) journey? What have been some of your challenges that you’ve experienced so far? Or have there been some swaps that were easier to achieve than others? Comment your experience down below!
A Simple Wildflower
4 Simple Ways to Consume Less Waste
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 the 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 assured 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