Waste-Conscious Living

“Zero-waste” has become a more popular term over the last few years. Zero-waste living is a lifestyle intended to eliminate waste. It is 2023, so many of us have heard the phrase- “ reduce, reuse, recycle” by now.  But, is that enough to be living a zero-waste lifestyle? 

The term “zero-waste” is not only confusing, it can be downright daunting. I recall years ago seeing a woman on social media, who was able to fit her entire year of waste in one mason jar! Well, let’s be real here- that’s not happening in my home – and I imagine most of you reading this are in the same boat as me.

I recently read an article where the author suggested changing the terminology from zero-waste to waste-conscious. Now is the time to take a deep breath in, exhale and say- “Okay, tell me more about this waste-conscious way of life, please”. 

The author recommended the easiest way to start was to reframe your mindset. I’ve always found reframing can be a great way to gain a fuller perspective in many areas of life. 


Making better choices

Reusable shopping bags Single use plastic bags
Reusable water bottles Single use plastic bottles
Reusable coffee mugs/ travel mugs Single use paper or styrofoam
Bamboo or stainless steel straws Single use plastic straws
Bamboo toothbrushes Plastic toothbrushes
Toothpaste tablets Non-recyclable tubes w/ cap
Solid shampoo and conditioner bars Plastic containers
Reusable dishcloths Single use paper towels
Solid dishwashing soap with a bamboo hand brush Plastic container
Biodegradable loofah sponges Disposable sponges made from non-recyclable wood cellulose and petroleum-derived plastics
Coconut fiber scrubbers for washing pots and pans Disposable steel wool ( contains harsh chemicals)
All-purpose cleaner tabs ( just drop in water and reuse the same spray bottle) Disposable plastic container
Foaming hand soap tabs ( just drop in water and reuse same soap dispenser) Disposable plastic container
Eco-friendly dishwasher tabs ( without plastic wrapper) Plastic wrapped tabs or disposable plastic container
Biodegradable liquidless laundry detergent sheets Disposable plastic container
Biodegradable toilet bowl cleaner strips Disposable plastic container
Reusable food storage/snack bags ( cloth, silicone, glass) Single use plastic
Compostable products instead plastic when necessary: dog poop bags, utensils, cups, trash bags, etc. Single use plastic


Be More Intentional

Planning can go a long way

Something that works for us in our home is – meal planning. Each week I plan what our dinner will be each night. I often will look to see what I have left in the pantry or refrigerator and if there is something that should be used before it expires that can be incorporated into another meal. An example would be- I see I have some burger buns and some greens that will be wilting soon. I may then plan for a veggie burger and salad night in the next couple of days. My husband and I share the Dinner Menu on our Google Calendar at the same time each night. This not only eliminates stress about what’s for dinner- it also cuts down on our food costs and food waste. Leftovers can be used for lunches the next day or for a leftovers dinner night.


Put your scraps to good use

Composting is breaking down organic matter like food scraps into nutrient-rich material to help with soil health and is great for your garden! There are many non-food compostable products on the market these days as well. We use compostable trash bags, plates, cups, and spoons at our place of business in our micro-market. It is important to note that compostable items should not be put into recycling bins.

Different composting options are available- from outdoor tumblers, backyard piles, indoor countertop machines, or companies that will come pick up your compost. Depending on where you live- some cities even have programs for this. 

Grow Your Own Food

Eliminate Plastic Packaging

Already composting? Then you are halfway there! Are there fruits, vegetables or herbs that you use regularly that you can grow on your own? That is always a great place to start. Perhaps you question what color thumb you have and the idea of starting a garden on your own feels too stressful- then look into community gardening groups. Volunteer your time and learn from others. 

Does it Have to Be New?

Shopping second hand is cool

We are a society with so much stuff. Every time I turn around I see another storage facility being erected. A rule we have in our home that came to light when we moved was- If we have not used it in a year, that means we went through four seasons not needing it- time to let it go. 

Buying second-hand furniture, clothing, dishware etc. is more sustainable than buying new all the time. New products mean new resources are needed. Nowadays, you can not only visit your local thrift shop, but you can shop secondhand right online through various platforms like Facebook Marketplace. And, on the flip side of this topic- when you are done with something, instead of throwing it away to go into a landfill think about donating it or selling it.

On your Mark

Get set, go low waste

Being waste conscious can look different for everyone. Some of you may look at the above information and be ready to take it all on. Whereas others may feel that starting with the swaps or the meal planning feels more sustainable for them at this time. It is important to do what feels good to you. If you feel overwhelmed then you will most likely fall off your waste-conscious journey. 

Just do your best. Small changes can have an enormous impact.



www.the honestconsumer.com/blog/how-to-live-a-zero-waste-life


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In 1996, something happened that changed my life forever. And, in turn changed many other lives, too. At the time I was in college working toward my degree in Psychology & Criminology. The summer before my senior year of college I was hit head on by a drunk driver.

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