“Zero waste” goals are filled with good intentions, but they can also be glazed with privilege or affluence. (Here’s a helpful article.) I recognize this. My husband and I don’t have gold coins spilling from our pockets, but even as a one-income family we do have access to a variety of resources that others may not have. My hope in sharing these goals with you is that we can encourage each other to be conscious consumers, wherever you may find yourself.
Here’s what we’ve worked on in the last year.
- Recycling plastics. There are all different types of plastics. Some you can stick in the recycle bin, others you can’t! (Here’s a helpful breakdown.)
- Recycling clothing. I’ve donated and shopped at thrift stores, but I recently learned you could recycle those old bras for a great cause! I sent mine here.
- Glass alternatives.
- Food storage. I save the glass jars and use them for either food storage, like tupperware, or other types of organization. I recently purchased these containers for lunches and leftovers.
- Water bottles. Aaron gave me this glass one a few years ago and still use it everyday. I prefer this lid.
- Straws. Glass straws are pretty and easy to use.
- Grocery shopping. I try to avoid plastic packaging if possible, especially around produce. If necessary, Trader Joe’s and other super markets offer compostable produce bags. We also use fun reusable grocery bags, which makes the one-trip mission easier since the bags are stronger and usable more comfortable to carry. Even choosing paper over plastic is a smart move!
- Swapping bathroom essentials.
- Shampoo. We’ve swapped our shampoo bottles for bars! I thought the bar wouldn’t give me enough product or lather to really clean my thick hair, but I was wrong. I love it! I’ve been using this one for almost a year and a half. Aaron likes this one.
- Body wash. These bars from Whole Foods are the bomb. When they go on sale, be sure to stock up!
- Face wash. Aaron likes this stuff and this bar.
- Toothbrushes & toothpaste. Bamboo toothbrushes have also been a hit. Did you know you can chew toothpaste? Aaron’s used these in the past, warning — these are a tad spendy. (I’ve seen others make their own toothpaste, but that’s a dare devil move if you ask me.)
- Cloth napkins. I haven’t purchased paper napkins in almost 2 years. I can count on one hand how many rolls of paper towels I’ve used. Cloth napkins are really easy to make or find.
- Cutting out red meat. The processing of red meat uses lots of water and land in a way that isn’t sustainable. (Read more.) This wasn’t super difficult as we hardly eat any beef. Some might also say that going vegan is even better on the environment. We’re not quite ready for that.
- Supporting sustainable companies.
Here are some new things we want to try this year.
- Composting. I’m not sure how to attempt composting in our small apartment, but I’m up for trying if anyone has suggestions?
- Water filter. Our friends have a Berkey water filter. They love it. Right now we have a Brita pitcher, which involves constant filter replacement. We don’t have a ton of space to spare, so we’ll look back into this once we move.
- Other important bathroom swaps. Someday we’ll swap our cotton swabs, moisturizers, and other bathroom essentials out for products that are more easily compostable and without plastic containers.
- Beeswax food wraps. These are a great alternative to saran wrap. I don’t use plastic wrap a ton anyways, but I think it might be fun to try these (or make them!)
These changes don’t happen overnight, nor are they always consistent habits. Small steps in the right direction are key. Do you have any goals like these? I’d love to hear what has or hasn’t worked for you!