My Journey to Zero Waste- 10 Steps to Getting Started

Zero waste is a concept I’ve been familiar with for a long time, but it’s something I always glazed over as inconceivable. Only crazy people do that.

There are two things that have recently led me to this conclusion of trying to reduce my waste. The first happened when I was at Coachella on Sunday. Before Ariana Grande came out, they played to song and music video to a new song, along with a message from the artist of the song- Lil Dicky.

He mentioned how we only have ten years to save the planet before we’re virtually screwed. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was 10 years to damnation bad. Yes, I’m learning about the environment from someone named Lil Dicky.

I was vegan about a year ago and had fallen off the wagon due to many reasons, but after seeing his statements at Coachella, I decided I’d hop back on and try to do my part to help the Earth.

Then, at work this morning a girl whose Instagram is @OneSmallThing was on Good Morning America. I never usually watch the show, but it’s always on at my job. They did a super interesting segment with her about how she’s created hardly even a mason jar full of waste over the last seven years. Yeah, seven.

I was inspired to say the least. One of the hosts asked her something along the lines of, “Well, what do you do if you just want a yogurt? They all are packaged in plastic.”

I had similar questions, and her reply answered them all. She said she asks herself if that one yogurt will bring her as much joy as being eco-friendly does. That was exactly what I needed to hear. Why was I putting a few minutes of artificial joy over our ecosystem?

I decided to take the first steps into becoming a zero waste gal. After much research and inquiry, I wrote down the first ten things I’m going to do to reduce my footprint here on our planet.

1. Reusable Bags

I always bring a reusable bag, and by always I mean whenever I remember. I wasn’t to make a much more conscious effort to bring a reusable bag not only to the grocery store but to anywhere I plan to purchase something.

I also want to get reusable bags that I can use for my food in the grocery store instead of using those thin, plastic bags they have available.

2. Going Vegan

This helps reduce waste in many ways. By reducing the amount of animal products you intake, you’re no longer contributing to all the things that go into dairy and meat production. The amount of water and energy it takes to sustain the market can be greatly reduced just by one person going vegan.

3. Shopping in Bulk

This is something I’ve never really ventured into, and for no good reason. Luckily, I have a Winco in my town which makes it possible to get virtually anything in bulk. There are a ton of stores that supply options similar, so I highly recommend looking into it.

By shopping in bulk, you aren’t supporting all of the plastic packaging that most food comes in. Reusable bags come in super handy for transporting your bulk foods, and then at home, you can store them in glass jars.

4. Make My Own Products

This is an action that’s a little daunting to me. I want to start small by trying my hand at making my own toothpaste! The girl I mentioned earlier on Good Morning America said she uses peppermint oil, coconut oil, and baking soda to make her own toothpaste. Then you can package it yourself more ethically than it usually comes.

5. Speaking Up

I think one of the main ways I contribute to excess waste is by not speaking up. I don’t always make sure I’m not given a straw at a restaurant, or I let the bagger at the grocery store use their own plastic bags.

Even smalls “no’s” like refusing plastic packaged snacks on an airplane will make a huge difference in the long one. Say no to anything wrapped in plastic- even if it’s free.

6. Thrift over New

This is something I’ve already been doing, but I want to make it the only thing I’m doing. I love thrift shopping, and it’s a great way to not support the sweatshop labor that a lot of fast fashion stores promote.

Through thrifting, you can find a ton of stylish looks while also recycling clothing! You can feel good about what you’re wearing.

I also want to learn to make my own clothes- that’s my next mission.

Also, thrifting doesn’t only mean clothes. Try to look secondhand for any items you need before purchasing a new one. Kitchen gadgets, electronics, and pretty much anything you could ever need can be found at a thrift store.

7. Turn Something into Something Else

Along with learning how to sew, I want to be able to make my own reusable bags, handkerchiefs, and other cloth-based products.

You can use extra or old sheets to make so many things. This also coincides perfectly with thrift shopping- they have a ton of old sheets at most secondhand stores, and they often only cost under a dollar.

8. Wash Dirty Clothes

I think most people get into the habit of wearing something once and throwing it in the hamper immediately. Washing machines use a ton of water to clean our clothes, so I’m going to make sure I only wash what’s actually dirty.

Wearing a T-shirt once to bed doesn’t necessarily call for a wash. Check your clothes and only wash them when they truly need to be cleaned!

9. Do Instead of Buy

I’m definitely a victim of sad-shopping… and happy-shopping, stress-shopping, okay basically always shopping. I want to make an effort to do something instead of buying something. If I’m stressed I can take a walk; if I’m sad I can go to a yoga class- there are a ton of other options.

The easiest way to reduce waste is to reduce your buying.

10. Eat It or Save It

Something I hate to admit is how much food I waste. Whether it’s forgetting to eat the leftovers, or forgetting to use an item altogether, I want to make sure I’m using everything that I buy.

Meal prepping/planning greatly helps with this because you’ll know exactly what, when, and how much you’re going to eat. Try to use that method instead of just winging it at the grocery store.

These are all the things I’m going to work on over the next month- I’ll keep you updated on how it goes. It’s definitely overwhelming, but to save the planet, I’ll go to any lengths. Let me know if you have any other zero waste tips or things I can try, or if you are going to try any of these things as well.

Let’s save the planet together!

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