On Reducing Waste

Zero waste (aka not producing any waste in your daily lifestyle) has been bandied about along with ideals like minimalistic and tiny house living quite often over the past few years. And while I have no desire to be zero waste at this moment in time, I am considering how I can lessen my environmental impact in my daily life.

Being Zero Waste Is Not Realistic for Most of Us

For many of us, living a completely zero waste lifestyle is not realistic. It takes money, time, and energy to shop in package free stores that may not even be available beyond highly gentrified areas where people can afford the cost. Shopping at a discount store that happens to use a lot of packaging or not having a viable grocery store option at all are realities for many Americans. Survival is more important than zero waste lifestyles. You may also not physically have space in your home for numerous containers and jars to store all of your food products that you purchase package-free. You may share a cramped kitchen with your partner, children, extended family or roommates. You may only live in a rooming house with only kitchen privileges. Even if these factors aren’t a reality for your daily life, it’s important to be aware of the privilege of making decisions like zero waste lifestyles are not universally possible.

Zero waste also doesn’t equate to supporting companies with eco-friendly + sustainable practices which is also key because of the environmental impact that fast fashion and many other industries have on the environment. If environmental issues matter to you, it’s also important to consider environmental stances of political candidates when voting because changes within all levels of government are a key factor in reducing our environmental burden, lessening impacts of climate change, improving air and water quality and much more.

But There’s Always Room for Improvement

But despite my lack of interest in living a zero waste lifestyle, there are investments that are within my budget and habits I plan to adopt. Here are some of the ways that I plan to reduce my waste + environmental impact.

1| Shop Locally + Lessen Dependence on Online Shopping

The ease of online shopping has made it so simple to order items to your home at the push of a button. But the resources required to get those items to your doorstep come at an (environmental) cost. While I have the time, energy, inclination, I want to think more carefully about my online purchases. Most of the time, with more planning I can easily get the items in person or even order them online and pick them up in the store.

2 | Make More Products and Items Myself

My time, ability and resources allow for me to easily make many products myself at home that I’m in the habit of purchasing. It’s time to flex my creativity and make more cleaning and skincare items myself.

3 | Continue to Live a Car-free Lifestyle

I’ve never owned a car and have intentionally lived in major cities with decent public transportation for my entire adult life so far. I’d like to continue to do this as long as it makes financial sense for me.

4 | Create and Use a Go-Kit to Lessen Paper and Plastic Usage

Preparation is the biggest part of the battle for many things in life including efforts to reduce waste. Carrying things with me like a reusable coffee cup, a metal straw, a reusable bag, and cutlery would allow me to forgo these items when I need them while out of my home.

5 | Travel Less Frequently, but for Longer Time Periods

I love to travel which is pretty apparent if you know me in real life or have seen my Instagram feed. But I’d love to eventually set up a lifestyle where I can afford to travel for longer periods of time and travel at a slower pace to countries I visit. I also want to explore a few cities in the US that I’ve never been to.

6 | Meal Prep + Reduce Food Waste + Eat Less Meat

More often than not, I pack my lunch on weekdays and snacks during other times of the day to save money. I plan to continue to do this. I also need to be more proactive about prepping my produce so it doesn’t go to waste on my counter or in my Fridge which I have been known to do with alarming frequency in the past. I also plan to eat less meat and eat a more plan-centric which is better for the environment and for my body. After all, most Americans don’t eat enough fiber which is found in many nutritionally dense, plant-based foods.

My Zero Waste-centric Wish List

Because I always tend to have running lists of things it would be nice to have, here are some zero waste specific things currently on my wish list.