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:
- https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/ (to opt out of phone books)
- You can also call 1-888-567-8688 to opt out of some 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.