5 Tips for Going Zero-Waste

1) Commit to reducing your trash. Start Today.

We found the easiest way to do this was to examine what was in our trash. This may sound gross, and my students at school all looked horrified when I said this to them, but I literally empty our little trash can out on my studio floor to go through it. I wouldn’t do this if there was food or anything rotting in the garbage. But since we compost and wash the plastic wrappers that get thrown away, food waste is not part of our waste stream. The only things in the trash are plastic wrappers that can’t be recycled.

2) Compost food waste.

We keep a bowl on the counter for vegetable scraps. We have a compost tumbler that we take our compost to when it needs to be emptied. We empty the tumbler once it turns to soil and use it in our gardens. We are vegan so we do not have meat or dairy waste. It is possible to compost meat and dairy but it is usually not advised due to critters getting into your compost. However, where there is a will there is a way.

3) Separate your recycling from your trash.

We use separate bins – glass, plastic, and paper.

After that you may want to create a container for recycling plastic bags, cereal bags, and Ziploc style bags that can no longer be reused. We have found local grocery stores that have bins for collecting this sort of recycling.

4) Use reusable shopping bags, produce bags, and your own containers as much as possible.

This may mean setting up your car for shopping in advance with a shopping bag, a few smaller bags, and a jar or two. This may mean changing the brands you regularly buy. It may mean changing grocery stores to ones that are friendlier to bulk shopping with your own containers.

It is amazing how much waste single use beverage containers make. Even committing to using a travel mug will make a significant reduction in your waste stream. So much of our waste is made while we are away from home. Try bringing all of your daily waste home and analyze what could be done instead.

5) Loose the guilt. It takes time to make lasting changes in a lifestyle and there will be failures along the way. Don’t let them bring you down.

I have never met anybody who consciously wants to damage the Earth. Often our habits are so engrained we are unaware of their impact.  When we take a moment to analyze our habits, it gives us the necessary insight to make Earth Friendly decisions. Over time, we create new habits, new shopping patterns, and a less prepackaged life.

Thanks for reading,

Josh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “5 Tips for Going Zero-Waste

  1. I just started reading your blog a week ago and I have to say each visit to my trash can (which is way too many!) has been an eye opener. I have long been trying to reduce my trash output and thought I was doing pretty good, however now I’m realizing I could put forth WAY more effort and reduce it even more. What’s frustrating to me is how much effort can go into this for any given individual, but then you look at hospitals and larger organizations and in a blink of an eye they have filled up a trash bag with plastics and such from tearing down and cleaning one operating room. I guess every little bit helps, but some days my efforts don’t always seem worth the hassle. We are all so conditioned to producing this massive amount of waste, its overwhelming!

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    1. Sheena, Thank You for sharing this with me. It isn’t really hopeless, especially when I see facilities starting to adopt zero-waste policies. As employees, through our actions and discussions with each other and with management ( or perhaps you are the management), you can have quite an impact and can begin the process of steering a company in positive ways. Change like this can feel like turning an aircraft carrier so we focus on the small degree changes that eventually lead to an about face. Imagine if everyone who went into a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts brought their own mug. Why not right??

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      1. Thank you! This gives me confidence to start sharing some of these simple ideas with others at work and in my family!

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