While I do my best to live with as little waste as possible, and try to inspire others to do the same, it’s not always perfect.
For me living zero waste is an ongoing process, and living zero waste will have a different meaning and look different for everyone. A few years ago if you had asked me if I would be living zero waste I would have said no way – it never seemed attainable to me. Yet here I am, and I’ve been doing it for over a year now.
It started small for me – with a few changes that eventually snowballed until I was living zero waste. Bringing my own bags was something I was already doing since I began grocery shopping for myself. That part was easy. Then, at some point in university, I stopped buying disposable water bottles. I think it was sometime in 2015 I made the commitment to not buy a take out coffee unless I had my own thermos.
I started using shampoo and conditioner bars in 2016, and this year started using lotion bars.
Last year, I started shopping at bulk barn with reusable cotton bags my mom had made, and buying toilet paper that comes wrapped in paper instead of plastic. And before I knew it, I was a zero waster!
Not 100% waste free
Sometimes while out at a restaurant or bar, I forget to ask for no straw in my drink. I have two beautiful puppies who need to eat, and I haven’t been able to find dog food that comes in paper or recyclable packaging (I will email the dog food company and ask them to think about making a switch to a more sustainable packaging). To deal with this I buy dog food in the biggest bag they sell. I make homemade dog treats for them – recipe here. I carry poo bags with me, but if I see a plastic bag on the ground will pick it up and use it. I’ve also used a coffee cup and lid that was on the ground to put the dog poo in.
My biggest tip for new or aspiring zero wasters, or anyone looking to cut down on their plastic consumption, is to start small. Start looking at the waste you create, and see what areas you can improve in. Don’t start all at once – make a change or two at a time. A good tool to do this is a trash jar – while for some zero wasters, the trash jar seems like the pinnacle of zero waste living, for me it is a great tool to see the type of trash you create. Keep a trash jar for a week or two and use it to visualize and examine your trash. Are there any plastic free substitutes you can shift towards?
What are your experiences with shifting to a zero waste lifestyle? What have been your biggest challenges or successes?