OK, its 2020 and still January, so we’re all still on the resolution train. I’m not usually a resolution person myself, but I’m always willing to set new goals and challenges for myself. This year, I made a promise to myself that I would only purchase clothes that had been previously used. What does that mean, exactly? I’m about to make real good friends with the Goodwill, thrifts shops, and all those new online thrift stores (because, you know its mainstream cool again). All of this got me thinking about the rest of the disposable things in my life, and what other changes I could easily make to accumulate—and eventually, throw away— less.
According to the online Annengerg Learner, the average American produces 4.6 pounds of trash per day. If that sounds like a lot, consider all the packaging, receipts, junk mail, wet paper towels, make-up wipes etc that we nonchalantly toss aside in a day. So what’s the alternative? The cool kids these days are calling it the “Zero Waste Movement.”
What is the Zero Waste Movement, you ask? At its core, zero waste is a philosophy predicated on reducing the amount of things we throw away. It calls for scaling back on disposable, one-time use things, and refocusing on reusing, recycling, and reducing what we have. Making these small changes increases a household’s sustainability, and in the long run, can save money. On a large scale, zero waste as a broad-scale cultural movement could mitigate pollution and help combat globe warming.
Obviously, going full zero waste tomorrow is daunting—I wouldn’t do it! Even worse, it might not be convenient in the life you and your family currently live. Instead, look for ways to make small changes that you can easily and casually accommodate! Start small; decide on 3 changes that aren’t overwhelming and won’t drastically affect the way your family operates. Incorporate the changes slowly. Start with one thing this week (or Month), and make another change when you’re ready or life allows. Finally, make it a game or challenge that the whole family wants to be a part of and wants to succeed at. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be on the road to zero waste, or at the very least, making small changes that could impact the world. Check out our list below for a few easy changes that you could easily make this year!
1. Go Paperless (if you haven’t already). Paperless has been an option for a long time, so if you haven’t already jumped on that bandwagon, do it now! Below are some additional resources you can sign-up online to get you out of a few more mailings.
a. www.catalogchoice.org Catalog Choice offers a free service that helps you stop unwanted junk mail and magazines. Just create an account, select the companies from which you want to stop receiving mail, and that’s it!
b. www.41pounds.org This service will stop nearly 80%-95% of your junk mail and catalogs. This service costs $35 and a donation of $10 will be given to one of their partner organizations like American Forests, Animal Haven, The Center for Biological Diversity, and others.
c. www.optoutprescreen.com This online service allows people to “opt in” or “opt out” of insurance and credit card offers. OptOutPrescreen.com is the only internet website authorized by Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion for this purpose under the FCRA.OptOutPrescreen.com will not contact consumers via email, telemarketing or direct mail solicitations.
d. dmachoice.org Removes you from certain mailing lists.
2. Go Thrifting. Its all the rage again (or maybe it never went out of style), but thrifting is definitely having a moment in 2020. Easy fashion gets blamed a lot for the ills of the world, so making different choices sometimes can help that! And with the advent of online thrift stores, its never been easier. Checkout these fun options below.
3. Replace one-time, disposable products! Check out zerowastestore.com for great options
a. Grocery Bags. Stop paying that $.05, and get yourself some reusables. Keep some in the car at all times, so you’ll get caught without one.
b. Water Bottles. Get yourself a reusable, and if you already have one, make a point to use it. We recommend one of those magic ones that will keep your ice solid for 5 days (that may be a slight exaggeration).
c. Cutlery. How many times do you go to eat at work, and the only cutlery in the office is of the plastic persuasion? Or maybe you grab take-out one night on the way home, and the plastic fork they throw in the bag (that you’ll probably throw away anyway) is made for children and couldn’t pick up food if it tried. Pick up a cool bamboo set that you can just leave at the office or keep in your bag.
d. Straws. Those plastic straws we all grew up on are a thing of the past, so if you’re mourning them, time to get over it! Lots of silicone, stainless steel, or bamboo options now available. I think I got 3 for Christmas! Check out Amazon for some great deals, or Zero Waste Store has them too.
1. try your hand at growing your own food! Not the easiest, but worth the work!
2. Go meatless one or two days a week! Might be a struggle for the rest of the family whenyou start, but its a great way to try new foods, pay attention to the environment, and save a few dollars in your budget.