For the last few years, I have tried to live without waste. My journey towards a zero-waste lifestyle started when I came across Bea Johnson and her book, “Zero Waste Home.” Today, I am here to share my tips for living a trash-free life – a life with more intention, more experiences and fewer things (the average American produces 4.4 pounds of waste daily). Are you ready?
Johnson lays out a very good foundation for living without waste. These five steps include: Refuse what you don’t need, reduce what you need, reuse the things you consume, recycle when you can’t do the first three, and finally, rot (compost). Applied in order, these five steps become the foundation for a life with less waste. As you have probably guessed by now, the most important step towards a sustainable lifestyle is one that values experience over objects and things. If you consume less, you will inevitably also waste less. It’s that simple.
Here are five steps you can take to empty your bin:
1. Evaluate your trash
How will you know what kind of waste you’re producing if you don’t actually take a look? Ask yourself the following questions: what do I see in here? What can I eliminate or live without? What can I find alternatives for? Have a good look and make notes.
One of the easiest steps to reducing your trash is by separating your food waste. Many of us are blessed with the opportunity to eat, but that means most of the waste we generate comes from food and food packaging. Every city is different in the way it deals with recycling and composting. Call up you council and learn the rules.
If you consume less, you will inevitably also waste less.
3. Avoid disposables
Have you ever walked by a public bin and seen it overflowing with disposable coffee cups? Single-use-items contribute a lot to the waste we produce – and think about all the resources that go into making them in the first place. Often they cannot be recycled and they contain toxins. Why not ditch the disposable coffee cups and water bottles for long lasting and reusable alternatives?
4. Find alternatives for plastic
Many people are under the impression that plastic is fine if it’s recycled. But the truth is, plastic never breaks down. It’s not biodegradable. It contains a lot of chemicals and toxins, which pollute our air and water, and become a source of food for the fish. The good news is that there are plastic-free alternatives out there. Ever thought about replacing your toothbrush for one that’s made out of bamboo? How about a cotton and reusable tote bag for your shopping?
5. Buy in bulk
You’ve probably noticed the unnecessarily plastic packaging our food comes in. Ever thought of buying from stores that offer a bulk section where you can take your own reusable cotton bags? If that seems impossible, why not start with food packaged in glass or paper. Maybe you can buy your dried good in bulk so you reduce the amount of plastic packaging you use.
There you have it: five simple steps to get you thinking about your trash.