NOTE: This post is a guest post by Helen Wurthmann, author, poet, and zero waste blogger living in Seattle, Washington. Today she’s answering a burning question on all of our minds this Earth Month:
Can you really eliminate all waste?
It may sound crazy, but you have the ability to live virtually waste-free. While everyone knows about “reduce, reuse, recycle,” you can significantly decrease waste in your life by embracing the other two “Rs of Zero Waste.’ When in doubt, remember:
Refuse: Rather than saying yes to a flyer, free t-shirt, or fro-yo sample on the street, make the not-so-easy choice to say no. By refusing items, you automatically remove that trash from your life!
Rot: Much of our waste comes from throwing compostable items into landfills where they can’t properly biodegrade. Allowing natural products like food, paper, and wood to compost decreases waste (and CO2 and methane emissions) on a massive scale.
What’s with the jar?
You may have seen that many zero wasters put any trash they can’t refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, or rot into a jar. Having a physical reminder that tracks how much trash you’re creating is a great incentive to cut back or keep up the good work. Tracking your waste in a jar over an extended period of time also encourages you to not throw away food (that’d be one stinky jar!). Rather, the jar encourages you to use every available part of their food and then compost the rest.
Basic, everyday choices that reduce waste:
Cook your own meals instead of eating out: Fast food and even sit-down restaurants create a huge amount of waste per customer. When you cook your own meals, you’re in control of what you’re purchasing and what you do with the scraps.
Buy your produce without individual packaging: When you buy items at the supermarket, do you put them in individual plastic bags? This habit creates a lot of unnecessary waste. Buy buying your food in bulk or using your own bags, you can cut down on this root cause.
Is Zero Waste Right for You?
Living zero waste can be intimidating, but the important thing to remember is that there’s no single approach to reducing your trash. Everyone is different, so if you want to reduce your waste, start by making small changes to your routine that work for you. It’s never too late to get started!
Want to learn more?
Check out my blog, The Zero Waste Bystander! It’s all about helping you make more sustainable lifestyle choices while acknowledging the struggles and adventures that come with such an ambitious goal. Learn more about wasting less at www.zerowastebystander.blogspot.com.