Coming Soon! Room-By-Room Guide to Reducing Waste! [An Introduction]

Hi Friends! I know the main focus of my blog is health/fitness, but I am also very passionate about Mother Earth. She is my only home and the source of my entire existence. It is my duty to keep her as clean as I can within my means. I feel like “Ahimsa” can be extended to the Earth, as she is alive through housing many diverse living, breathing ecosystems. Besides, if you were to pass a house down to your child, you wouldn’t leave it filthy and in need of repair.

I’m making this little guide because there are many, many, ways to reduce your waste, and it takes a lot of these practices together to get to “zero” waste. This guide will break down habits room-by-room (take a drink of water every time I say “room-by-room,” you’ll thank me when you’re hydrated) to make reducing environmental impact more feasible. When I think of “zero waste,” I think of the people who can put a year’s worth of trash into a jar. I read “Zero Waste Home” and felt overwhelmed with so much information at once! Which is why I say “reducing waste,” I am nowhere near “zero,” but I make progress each day with the decisions I make. So, I will be making a beginner-friendly guide with tips, resources, DIY’s and people/books that inspire me! This guide will be for people who have never heard of reducing environmental impact, those who have heard of it and are interested, and people who have started their journey and need a little inspiration.

The upcoming guide will break down the waste produced by a household room by room. I will have a separate post for each room/category that goes a little deeper into the swaps or behavior changes related to reducing waste in that space. I will keep rolling out my standard health/fitness content as well!

I would like to kick off this guide with the “whole house,” rather than one room. Before we enter the first room of the guide, we will start with ways to prevent waste from coming into the home in the first place. Waste enters our home whether we are conscious of it or not. One of the first steps for preventing waste from coming into your home is to unsubscribe from magazines and various subscriptions. Some of these services may offer a digital version of their product. You can also go “paperless” for most bills and statements. Instead of a physical bill being mailed to you, you would get it in an email. A lot of people receive physical junk mail that we do not sign up for. One way to start the process of eliminating incoming junk is to write “Return to sender” on an unopened piece of mail. Here is a list of websites that will help you either sign up for a “no mail” list, or opting out of offers:

Another great resource that can apply to the “whole house” is TerraCycle. You can sign up for specific recycling programs and mail in your packaging/item once you are done using it. This is a great option for people like me, who have no recycling programs near them. This program is a good transition step into reducing waste. It may be difficult to get rid of all junk mail because our information is always being sold. If you keep receiving junk mail after taking these steps; contact the company directly as each piece of mail comes in.

The next step is to prevent the trash that we bring into our homes. You can refuse to eat out, or take a reusable storage container to prevent bringing home a single-use storage container. Refuse a straw entirely, or bring your own! Silicone straws are very easy to deal with because they don’t break and can fold up to store. You can also be fancy and go for a collapsible metal straw. I’ve had a bad habit of biting straws, so I like the silicone straws a little more. You can bring your own mugs for coffee/tea. This would also include declining “gifts”; goodie bags, pamphlets, snacks in single use packaging, trinkets, etc. People are pretty empathetic when you let them know you’re not trying to bring into your home things you don’t need. Lastly, do not bring home impulse purchases. Its typically the things we don’t think about buying that we end up getting rid of. We see something that looks good on a hanger, we buy it, we take it home and hate it, or we keep it for a few months and that piece goes “out of style.” Moving forward, try to think about the things we are bringing into our home.

Once waste stops entering your home, it makes it easier to tackle what’s already inside the home. It is also one less thing to worry about.

Some things you can do while waiting for this series to be published:

  • Read “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard. You can buy it as an e-book or audiobook.
  • You can read “Zero Waste Home,” by Bea Johnson. It is a really handy guide.
  • You can check out the following YouTubers, they really inspire me: Gittemary Johansen, Madeleine Olivia, Shelbizleee, and Sustainably Vegan
  • Make some swaps, starting with the ones in this post and my mini Head to Toe Guide if you missed it!

This is not a definitive guide to get someone to Zero Waste, but to get you started and to make small changes that will add up over time. There may be a lot of swaps that are missing from this guide, I will be updating it in the future if need be.

Mini Head-to-Toe Guide on Reducing Waste!

In addition to being on a “health journey,” “fitness adventure,” “weight loss endeavor,” whatever we want to call it, I’m also on a mission to reduce the amount of waste I produce. I would like to start a series of small ways I have been able to (and would like to) reduce my waste production. I’m planning on splitting the series up by “rooms;” kitchen, bathroom, laundry, etc. Today, I want to go over a brief head-to-toe beginners guide that is practical and easy to adopt. I don’t have “low impact” substitutes for everything yet. These are very basic changes that you can make if you’re interested in learning how to reduce your environmental impact.

Head:

  • Shampoo: Shampoo bars are pretty great! They usually come in cardboard packaging and last a long time. I have thick, coarse and dense hair and shampoo bars can still lather enough to reach my scalp. I like HiBar and Bestowed Essentials shampoo bars! HiBar also carries conditioner bars!
  • Makeup Removal: Buy (or make) reusable cotton rounds. Put some oil on them and gently massage makeup off.

  • Cotton Swabs: You can try a LastSwab! They have a standard ear-itching swab and a “beauty” swab. The standard swab is textured so you can clear away debris, and the beauty swab has a pointed end so you can make precise corrections or applications.
  • Oral Hygiene: I use a bamboo toothbrush, which is compostable at the end of its life. A WaterPik is another great choice. It uses water to floss instead of the plastic string typically used. You can also use a tongue scraper or bamboo tongue brush. There are lots of sustainable toothpaste alternatives on the market. There is tooth powder, tooth tablets, tooth paste in glass jars, and tooth paste in recyclable packaging.

Torso:

  • Clothes: One of the more sustainable ways to buy clothes is second hand. Sometimes thrift shops have really cool finds! You can also buy secondhand directly from the previous owner. There are many online “thrifting” sites, like Mercari and Poshmark.
  • Stomach(???): Eating and drinking also have an impact. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it in public water fountains or an at home water filtration system. There are many ways to use food scraps so they don’t end up in the trash. Some examples include juicing them, boiling them and making a broth with them, blending them up and making crackers with them, and you can even compost them! You can also reduce your impact by choosing less animal products, as they have a more profound impact on the environment than common staples.
  • Excretory parts: A lot of people choose to buy bamboo toilet paper because bamboo grows quickly and does not take much water to grow. A better solution (I’m biased because I have one) is a bidet. They will make you cut back on toilet paper use, and if you use a rag/family cloth, you can use even less.
  • Feminine Hygiene: Reusable cotton pads and period cups are great alternatives to single use period products. I personally love Charlie Banana reusable pads. They’re very soft and absorbent. Period underwear is good for lighter flows.

Legs:

  • The only thing I can think of for legs is working out. You can rent or borrow equipment, or join a gym. You will have access to equipment and weights without creating demand for them by buying them.

This was just a basic rundown of baby steps I’ve taken so far. If you would like tutorials on how to make your own cotton rounds or family cloth, let me know! I will start on my room-by-room guide soon!

Are you into reducing your environmental impact? What alternatives have you tried? Let me know!