A Zero Waste Lifestyle is the practice of eliminating your waste or what is thrown into garbage cans and landfills. There are many proponents of the Zero Waste Lifestyle that I absolutely love, but Bea Johnson from Zero Waste Home is one of my favorites. She explains Zero Waste as living by the 5 R’s:
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot (and only in that order)
This may seem extreme, but before you check out, here’s a few statistics to encourage you to reduce your waste.
The US only represents 5% of the world’s population, yet as a nation we generate about 30% of the world’s garbage. (source)
The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year. (source)
The EPA estimates that 75% of our waste is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it. (source)
We throw away about 28 billion bottles and jars every year. (source)
Another one of my favorite Zero Waste advocates is Lauren Singer from Trash Is For Tossers. This is a picture of all of the trash she produced over 2 years! Is that not inspiring or what?
Lauren hasn’t sent any trash to a landfill since 2012 and recently she started The Simply Co., a company that strives to make the most sustainable cleaning products ever. Keep an eye out for her chemical-free, sustainably packaged products and do something good for yourself and our world.
A Few Words Of Wisdom:
Living a Zero Waste Lifestyle is not only about loving the earth, reducing our carbon footprint and reducing the horrifying statistics above, it’s also about improving our mental and spiritual health.
It’s easy to get lost in consumerism. We live in America and it’s all around us. But when we work toward simplifying our lives, consuming less and living more, we become happier.
Could you imagine shopping twice a year, for quality clothing that you truly NEED? How much head space could you clear up not thinking about the latest fashion trend you
HAVE to have. Or how much money could you save if you didn’t buy that new face cream that you KNOW will change your life?
Don’t buy into the lies. Consuming more does NOT make us happy. And if you think I sound like a crazy hippie, try it. Try not buying or consuming for a month and see how you feel. See how it can change your life.
Both Lauren Singer and Bea Johnson have spent a lot of time perfecting their Zero Waste Lifestyles, so don’t think you have to drastically change everything right away. Start simply by reducing your waste where you can.
A Few Simple Zero Waste Lifestyle Tips:
- Refuse to buy plastic water bottles. Buy a reusable water bottle instead. It will reduce your trash output and save you money.
- Refuse to use paper products. Paper plates and napkins, plastic silverware and cups, use what you already have in your home. If you don’t already have these items, visit a second hand store to buy things at a lower cost and to support the third R: Reusing.
- Refuse plastic shopping bags. Bring your own reusable bags. You can buy cute ones on Mighty Nest (one of my favorite sites!!) or make your own out of old T-shirts.
- Recycle! Do a Google search for recycling in your county. You’ll find tons of information about what you can recycle and where.
- Refuse to use disposable wipes and products to clean your home. Use old towels, T-shirts, rags or washcloths to clean.
- Reduce what you buy. Do you really NEED an item? Make a list before you go shopping and stick to it to reduce impulse buys.
It starts with a change in your mindset. Consider what your actions create. Do you really need 3 napkins when you’re at a restaurant? Could you stir your coffee with a real spoon instead of a stir stick? These actions may seem small, but it’s about changing the way we think.
Once you start, you’ll begin to notice the change that this could have on your life. And you’ll probably become as excited as I am. Don’t be surprised if people make fun of you for being a hippie! To aid in your hippie transformation, every month I’ll be introducing more tips and ways for you to decrease your waste and improve your Zero Waste Lifestyle. Really, I am so excited about it that my next post will be “15 Tips For A Zero Waste Kitchen”. Sign up for my email list, so you won’t miss it! And continue on in your own Zero Waste journey.