I’m not really sure where my eco-friendly tendencies came from. I’ve always loved animals. The first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a zoo-keeper. When I was old enough to twirl a baton above my head, I decided to start my own non-profit out of my pink piggy-bank: It was called “Encore for the Environment”. My business model consisted of begging my older sister to let me perform at her birthday party so that her friends would give me money to save the rainforest. I didn’t find much business, and I gave up until I could hone my baton twirling skills even more.
As I grew up, I learned that things were more complicated than simply raising money and sending it to “the rainforest” (Whoever that was). I learned about the politics surrounding global warming, deforestation, animal abuse, etc., and I
got discouraged. I doubted that one person could make a difference, so I stopped trying.
Until one college lecture, where we talked about our stewardship towards the earth as children of God. A guest professor gave a lecture in my honors class about how God gave us earth, and all of it’s resources, but He isn’t going to just continually give resources for us to waste. It’s our responsibility to show gratitude for what He’s given and treat it with all of the respect we possibly can.
At that point, it became more than a personal opinion. It became a heavenly mandate. A mission. I still had those achy doubts telling me that one person couldn’t possibly make a dent in the overwhelming environmental waste and degradation we are drowning in. But I knew I had to try.
I stumbled through, trying to do my best, but I really didn”t know where to start, or how best to reduce my impact. Then, I discovered the Zero Waste movement. It focuses on reducing your waste as much as possible, re-using what you can, purchasing only recyclable materials, refusing disposable items, and doing whatever else you can to produce as little trash as possible. The aim is progress, not perfection. You do what you can, and you encourage others to do the same.
I’m now at the beginning of my zero-waste journey, and although I feel good about the changes I’ve made, I know that I have so much more to learn. Daniel isn’t quite sure yet-I refuse to force him to do anything, but maybe by seeing the small changes I’m making, he’ll want to join in. We’ve always been respectful of our differences, and this is no exception. I’m sure there’s measures that I’ll take that he might not feel comfortable with, and I’m okay with that.
What I’ve Done So Far:
These are the steps I’ve implemented so far to live a more zero-waste lifestyle:
- Using re-usable bags for groceries: I found a few lying around the house, and bought one or two from the grocery store. Admittedly, I sometimes forget to bring them, but when I do forget them, I load all of my items back in my cart, one by one, and then in to my car, and then use my reusable bags to bring them into the house. I think I’ll learn quickly after a trip like THAT in the heat.
- Compost: Did you know that biodegradable items don’t actually break down if they’re in a landfill? They need the right set of conditions…AKA a compost heap, to break down. We used an old plastic storage box for our compost, drilled some holes in it, and added some gardening soil, worms, and then some more soil. Now I add my food scraps, hairbrush hair, paper towels, egg shells, etc. to my compost and it has DRASTICALLY reduced our trash.
- Re-usable Water Bottle: My MIL got me a HydroFlask and I am in LOVE with it. It keeps my water cold, it’s easy to transport, and something about using a straw to drink really helps me drink more throughout the day! Every time I fill up my reusable water bottle, I save the equivalent of 2 plastic ones…and I refill my water bottle three times a day. That means I’ll save 2,160 water bottles a YEAR.
- Re-usable Smoothie Bottle: I’m still learning how to ask people to put my drinks in my reusable smoothie cup. I’m not loud or outgoing, so it’s a little scary for me to be an inconvenience to people, so this is a huge exercise in courage for me. But a lot of places will give you an incentive to bring your own mug, and it’s led to some great conversations! I recommend this one.
- DIY beauty products: This is something I want to get much better about, but I’ve begun to make my own beauty products instead of buying them…they often come wrapped in plastic, and then boxed in more plastic and paper…plus, when you make these items yourself, not only do you help reduce your waste, but you get COMPLETE control of the ingredients that go into your products and onto your skin!
Where to go next…?
I have a lot of products that I’m trying to phase out so that I can replace them with more sustainable items. It’s a little bit irritating, to be honest. I have three bottles of lotion that I’m trying to work through, a toothbrush, several Ziploc bags, paper towels, etc. But It’s better to use these up first rather than to toss it all in the trash (which would kind of defeat the purpose of being more zero waste). Over the next few months, I want to make these changes:
- Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
- Buy reusable produce bags
- Start buying in bulk
- Switch to reusable paper towels
- Find sustainable options for laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and razors
- Make my own deodorant, toothpaste, and dry shampoo
- Grow more of my own food
Interested in Zero-Waste living? I’ve linked a few amazing resources down below! Keep an eye out for more from me as I learn more about the best ways to live Zero Waste.