The zero-waste movement is rising in popularity these days. And while reducing waste is one thing – achieving a zero-waste lifestyle is not as easy. Consider the times you and your colleagues bring disposable coffee cups to the office or when your teens bring chips and drinks home in plastic grocery bags. Using disposable utensils, bags and cartons has become a major habit for most of us. A recent study revealed that an estimated 4 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually. One billion of these plastic bags come from the United States.
Look, adopting a zero-waste lifestyle isn’t something that can happen overnight, but there are so many ways to gradually transition into embracing a much more environmentally-responsible routine. And it goes way beyond the elimination of plastic items or eating natural food. The zero-waste lifestyle is a more considerate approach towards minimalistic living. We’re talking about buying toys with less packaging, creating your own food wraps and switching out of disposable razors. These changes don’t take much thought.
Here are five ways you can help your family contribute to the zero-waste movement.
Disposable are made of paper and plastic and are not usually recyclable. Try these tips instead:
- Use reusable rags instead of paper towels
- Use sponges made of environmentally-friendly fabrics
- Make coffee at home and carry it in a reusable mug
- Gather a collection of cloth napkins that can be washed easily
- Make your own reusable beeswax food wraps
Make your own meals or snacks.
Prepare healthy snacks and meals for your kids and eliminate single-use plastic packaging. Pack them in reusable lunch containers and bags. And buy in bulk, rather in pre-packaged containers. Another good tip is to freeze or can food before it goes bad to avoid having to throw it out.
Break tasks into focus areas.
Get the kids involved. Decluttering can be overwhelming so give each child. a task or room to start with. And don’t let the clutter build up again. Give gifts of experiences rather than things. Think movie tickets, restaurant gift cards, theater performances, and lessons. Or shop at secondhand shops and accept hand-me-down toys and accessories for your children.
Keep doing the 5Rs.
To avoid wandering off from your zero-waste lifestyle goal, follow these five rules: Refuse, Reduce Reuse, Recycle, and Rot.
Refuse items wrapped in plastic or even free samples of things. Reduce your closet by throwing out impulse buys and things you don’t wear or need. Don’t want to throw certain things out? Reuse or repurpose them! You can even go as far as repairing ripped or torn clothing or fixing broken toys. Now, your recycling bins shouldn’t have much in them since you aren’t buying plastics but if some do make their way into your home, make sure to recycle them. Finally, get a compost bin to toss rotting food into. It will create high quality fertilizer!
Consider your next purchase.
Keep the below things in mind during your next shopping trip:
- Replace only what your family has consumed for the week/month
- Buy food and other items in bulk to save
- Bring your own shopping bags, glass jars or containers (for supplies)
- Shop at farmer markets/CSAs/co-ops
- Search Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, yard sales and antique shops for furniture and home decor