Five R's of Zero Waste

Have you ever thought about the amount of garbage you create? Or how many times you have to take the trash out? For some people, it's a lot. Maybe even for you, maybe you have to take it out daily! But alas, there is an alternative solution to this: simply creating less trash.

Learn to say no. Try to buy less produce in plastic wrap. Say no to freebies, bargains, and cheap disposables. Cheap disposables. Heh. My favorite. They are items of low quality with cheap prices and we buy them if we maybe didn't have a lot of money to spend. Let me tell you something though: they're cheap for a reason. Being produced from chemicals and materials from questionable sources resulting in cut costs and leeching toxins. If you can, buy more from fresh farmer's markets and stay away from the bigger commercialized supermarket stores for food. Refusing more will eliminate a lot of your trash.

Everyone has things sitting at home that they never use. Why? We see something we want and BAM, we purchase it on impulse. Unfortunately, that joy and high and having it wears of quite quickly and then it just becomes another valueless item sitting around. A waste of resources and space collecting dust. What you can do, though, is give those items a second life. This way, someone else can reuse your things instead of going out and buying new - using up more products. Take your things to the Salvation Army, or Goodwill, or your local thrift store, or wherever! You can sell things online if that suits your better using eBay, Craigslist, or even if you are part of a Facebook "online garage sale" group. Sometimes there are even swap parties where people swap unwanted stuff with one another. Garage sales, flea markets. Maybe a friend or relative is hosting a garage sale and they will let you have your own table of stuff to sell. There are plenty of options. Reduce some of the cleaning chemicals from the cabinet in your home by swapping to some (great for cleaning) kitchen ingredients such as baking soda and white vinegar. Pay bills online, call and eliminate junk mail from being delivered to your house. There are so many ways to reduce stuff in your home.

Reuse / Repair
If something is broken in your home, repair and reuse. Mend clothes, upcycle items you would normally toss away. If something is beyond repair, dispose of it properly. There is no reason to keep something that is broken and useless. Buy only durable tings you can use over and over. Again, ditch the disposables. On top of creating less trash, reusing saves so much money because you're not using and having to replace right away. If you're having a hard time figuring out what is all disposable in your house, I've written up a list with some of them and what to use instead:

Cotton rounds - washable cotton rounds
Paper towels - microfiber cloths
Paper napkins - cloth napkins
Dish sponge - cotton cloth
Tea bags - loose tea leaves and mesh tea strainer / French press
Coffee filters - Reusable coffee filters - French press
Bottled water - Stainless steel or good quality glass (Plastic-free and BPA-free)
Cleaning wipes - microfiber cloths
Muffin paper liners - Greased pan

Plastic, cardboard, cans, glass, paper. This will already eliminate so much trash. Most things we throw away can be recycled. Tags, mail, toilet paper cardboard rolls, old plastic makeup containers, and etc. Unfortunately, a lot of recycling centers do not take plastic grocery bags so try to either request paper bags or (even better) bring your own cloth/tote bag instead. Something to keep in mind - while recycling is great, if you can buy less packaged stuff altogether (even if the packaging is recyclable), that is even better. You will feel so much more accomplished if you recycle and you will notice that you are taking the trash out significantly less and less by doing so.

Lastly, rot. Don't throw away food scraps and instead, get a worm bin and let them turn your scraps into fertilizer for your gardens and such. Or create a compost pile and just throw everything in there. It might sound gross, but it's just the nature of nature. So ultimately, it's really not that gross. It's the most efficient and local form of recycling and it's even more eco-friendly because it doesn't require transportation and the use to fuel! Waa-laaa.

There you have it: the five R's of zero waste. It's really not that hard and you can make small daily changes to slowly shift your life to zero waste. Make it a goal. The can be as little as only taking the trash out once a week or as big as only one Mason jar worth of trash for an entire year ;-)

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