Living close to Zero Waste has been an amazing transformation for me. I love that I’ve lowered my family’s ecological footprint by approximately 80%. However, this is not within the reach of some people. Not everyone has the ability to live Zero Waste. Sometimes, there are restrictions such as severe allergies, other medical restraints and even geography could play a role. If there are no shops in your area that are bulk based and will allow you to use your own container, you’re kind of stuck. But just because there are limitations, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done.
Grocery shopping: Try to be more aware of your choices. Avoid excessive amounts of plastic. When you’re in the produce section of your supermarket, skip the plastic bags all together. You bring the produce home to wash anyways, so the plastic really isn’t doing anything; and when you can, choose glass or cardboard containers for other items.
Going out for supper: While ordering your meal, inquire about the use of plastic in it. There’s often plastic picks or toothpicks with a colorful plastic tip used to hold burgers or sandwiches together. Ask for them to skip that step all together. Also, if the sauces come in tiny cups, ask what the cup is made of. If they’re washed and reused, go for it. If it’s a single use item, dodge it.
Drinks with your friends: Personally, I prefer to order beer from the tap. Kegs are refillable and beer doesn’t come with a garnish. If you prefer spirits, always remember to say NO to the straw. At bars, they are not typically recycled and I’ve never seen a reusable straw in this setting. Ask for them not to use one in your drink. Don’t forget about the sneaky plastic picks as well. Bartenders want your drinks to look classy and a clear plastic pick gives that illusion. It is however, unnecessary. Just like the straw, ask for your drink without one.
Use reusable shopping bags: Plastic shopping bags are seriously, the worst! It may take a bit to remember to carry your own bags at first, but eventually it’ll become a habit and you won’t even realize you’re doing it. It’ll save so much from landfills and waterways (Yes, that’s where they often end up, despite attempting to recycle them).
Use your own reusable mugs and water bottles: So many of us start our day with a nice cup of caffeine. Now let’s assume you’re like I used to be. I would stop at the coffee shop in the morning, grab a large double-double (not using my reusable) and be on my merry way. On my way home from work, I did the same thing as sort of a treat. Now let’s look at that, that’s 2 coffees a day, with a plastic lid and a paper cup that’s been dipped in plastic to reinforce the strength against the liquid. 10 coffees a week, just from my commute to and from work, every week for approximately 45 weeks a year. That’s 450 cups and 450 plastic lids a year! Only 1 person (me) and that isn’t including when I would get a muffin or a bagel. That’s crazy! Thinking back to it! I spent so much time of my life creating an insane amount of waste, when now, all I do differently is carry a reusable mug. I can still enjoy a coffee (not as much now since I’m trying to switch to loose leaf tea) with none of the consumer waste.
With these few steps, even if you’ve been held back due to a variety of personal reasons, you can still have an impact. At the risk of sounding ultra corny, I legitimately believe that the best tool we can do while transitioning to a Zero Waste lifestyle, is your attitude! If you’re a bit reluctant and hesitate, it will show. If you’re excited and remain positive, it’ll make more of a difference than anything else I can suggest.
For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path. Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!