Guide to Zero-Waste Living
Take a minute to peruse the contents of the trash cans throughout your home. While this might not be the most pleasant (or pleasant-smelling!) activity, doing so can provide you with the information you need to begin living healthier, leaner and lighter on the planet. And it might even help you save money over the long haul!
What is zero-waste living?
Zero-waste living means aiming to reduce landfill-bound trash to the bare minimum—a worthy goal considering that a plastic bag could take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. When you look through your trash, you’ll probably find discards that could be recycled, reused or repurposed. Whether you’re an experienced zero-waster or a beginner, there’s always something to learn or ways to improve. Here’s an easy guide to streamlining the whole process.
Anyone dedicated to reducing waste quickly becomes well-versed in the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Consider also these other Rs: Rethink your every purchase in terms of zero-waste, considering how it will finally be disposed. Repair broken appliances, electronics and other items instead of tossing them into the landfill trash. Repurpose or upcycle by transforming the old into new, usable objects. Rescue still-usable items from the neighbor’s landfill-bound trash or Dumpster.
How to get started:
✔ Recycle as much as possible.
✔ Keep an indoor compost bin then transfer compost to an outdoor compost heap.
✔ Separate items you plan to reuse, repurpose, upcycle, donate or sell. Tuck a set of shelves, or even a floating shelf, in the entry closet or garage to keep everything out of the way and running smoothly.
✔ Ditch Plastic Packaging. You can do this by bringing your own reusable shopping bag. By doing so, you help eliminate bringing home plastic bags which will most likely end up in the trash.
✔ Eliminate Single Use disposable paper products. Living without paper towels, napkins, plates, cups or other disposables is easier than you might think. Rather than paper towels and napkins, choose reusable cloth versions. If you need a single-use option, several retailers offer certified compostable paper plates, bowls, cups and napkins.
✔ Minimize Food Waste.
Let’s face it: Certain disposables in the bathroom—used dental floss, hygiene products, tissue or toilet paper—simply can’t be reused, recycled or repurposed. However, zero-wasters take heart: With a little forethought, your bathroom can be transformed into a minimal-waste green zone. When it comes to toilet paper and facial tissue, your best option is to select 100-percent recycled paper with a minimum of 50-percent post-consumer waste. With bottles for shampoos, conditioners, face washes, body washes, mouthwash and more, the bathroom is a major source of plastic waste. Reduce this by thinking about packaging options and choosing items you can buy in bulk or in recyclable packaging.
Aerosol or plug-in air fresheners pollute your home’s indoor air and clog up landfills. It’s easy to make your own air freshener: Put 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil in a glass spray bottle. Fill with water and shake vigorously. Good odor-fighting, antibacterial scents include lavender, lemon, tea tree, peppermint and eucalyptus. If you prefer a continuous scent, make a reed scent diffuser by mixing essential oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba or olive oil. Put it into a vase or jar with a narrow opening and add reed diffuser sticks (available at craft stores or online) or bamboo skewers. Every few days, flip the sticks to refresh the scent.
These basic tips provide you with the information to get started on your Zero-Waste Living journey. Eco Digester offers a great selection of eco-friendly products ranging from reusable shopping bags to compostable alternatives to disposable dining ware.
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