September 16, 2020
By Frances Lucraft
10 Easy Ways To Go Zero Waste At Home written by Sarah from Spruce Up! Edited by Nicole Sourry.
At Grace & Green, we put sustainability at the heart of what we do. Our range of organic tampons, pads and liners are plastic-free and biodegradable to reduce waste in landfills, and just launched our new reusable period cup – designed to last up to 10 years.
In the our Green Room blog, we strive to highlight some of the people and brands that are helping to create a more sustainable planet. Sarah from Spruce Up! offers amazing resources on sustainable living. We especially like Sarah’s 35 Easy Ways To Go Zero Waste At Home article, and she kindly has shared her first 10 tips with us.
1. Evaluate Your Current Level of Waste
Getting real with yourself about your habits regarding waste will help you create a plan of action. While the evaluation phase may be a bit overwhelming, it can be equally enlightening. It’s important to practice self-compassion as you assess your current situation and begin implementing small changes.
2. Start Now, Not Later
As you look around your home, you’ll likely notice unnecessary and/or unwanted items that are collecting dust and cluttering up your living space. A great introduction to the zero waste lifestyle is decluttering your home.
Refrain from throwing things away in large quantities in an effort to start fresh. Instead, donate unwanted clothing and household items, gift things to loved ones, compost at home, and don’t forget to recycle. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a helpful guide on common recyclables to simplify the process.
3. Re-evaluate Household Necessities
If paper towels, plastic straws, and/or disposable razors are on your weekly shopping list, this is a great place to start making slight modifications. There’s no need to break the bank by splurging on an eco-friendly shopping spree. Small changes will add up quickly, so we recommend researching Earth-safe alternatives as you run out of your current products.
4. Remember: Quantity Matters
When it comes to a zero waste lifestyle, being mindful of the quantities of products you use is a great way to save money—and the planet.
Household cleaner dispensers are often designed for overuse to ensure these products are purchased frequently, but some consumers use excessive amounts of personal care and household cleaning products even if the packaging isn’t poorly designed.
Examples of frequently overused products include:
- Face cleanser
- Shaving cream
- Toilet paper
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Dishwasher detergent
- Paper towels
- Laundry detergent
- Glass cleaner
- Furniture polish
Making a conscious effort to cut down on the use of these products will drastically reduce the frequency of your purchases, as well as waste.
5. Treat Yourself to a Reusable Water Bottle
Plastic water bottles may be convenient, but they’re one of the key contributors to the alarming amount of waste on our planet. A 2019 article published by National Geographic reported that no less than one million water bottles are sold every minute around the globe, and in the U.S., a mere 30% of them are being recycled. When compared to Norway, which recycles 97% of water bottles, we have some work to do.
If you’re wondering if eliminating disposable water bottles from your home will actually make a difference, the answer is absolutely! It takes one plastic bottle at least 450 years to break down completely, so you’ll literally be doing your part to save our planet each time you fill up your reusable bottle rather than reaching for a plastic one. Consider using a reusable thermos or vacuum flask for drinking water on the go.
6. Eliminate Plastic Grocery Bags from Your Life
One of the easiest changes you can make immediately is banning plastic shopping bags from your home. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the average American family uses up to 1,500 of these single-use bags each year, and on average, just 15 of those bags (1%) wind up being recycled. What’s more? Each plastic bag is used for an average of 12 minutes before being thrown away.
In lieu of traditional plastic, opt for reusable bags made from durable cloth. Keep them in your car for trips to the grocery, and stash one or two in your purse to ensure you have a sustainable bag anytime you need it.
7. Ban Freezer Bags and Plastic Wrap, Too
By now, you’re probably noticing a theme when it comes to all-things-plastic. Our planet isn’t fond of plastic, so it’s important to utilize Earth-friendly alternatives when possible. On average, families in the U.S. use about 500 single-use storage bags per year. With well over 120 million households throughout the country, that’s a whole lot of unnecessary plastic.
If you have a stockpile of storage bags at home, they can be reused if carefully washed and dried between uses; however, we’d advise against reusing bags that have been used for raw meats and odorous or moldy foods. As you run out of single-use storage bags, we recommend replacing them with reusable containers or more durable zip-style bags. While these options are a bit pricier than traditional bags, you won’t have to buy them nearly as often.
8. Stock Up on Glass Jars
Using glass jars and containers for food storage is a great way to cut down on plastic. These reusable items can be found at virtually any discount or thrift store, and they’re a great alternative to Tupperware and other plastic containers.
If you don’t have glass storage solutions at home, and you’re not keen on purchasing in bulk, simply wash and reuse glass jars from your fridge and pantry.
9. Opt for Foods with Minimal or No Packaging
As you begin transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle, you’ll become more conscious of your shopping habits. Lots of convenience foods come in unnecessarily bulky packaging. When food shopping, choose products with the least amount of packaging and/or biodegradable containers.
Farmer’s markets are a great place to pick up fresh goodies with little to no packaging.
10. Switch to Bar Soap—for Your Face, Body, Hair, and Dishes
One effective way to decrease waste is by replacing liquid soap with bar soap. While bar soap has always been available for the bath and shower, many companies are now offering bar options specifically for dishes. You can even switch to a bar variety for your hair.
Like this? Read the complete list of 35 Easy Ways To Go Zero Waste At Home from Spruce Up!