My 30 days are over and so, I’ve done all I need to, learned all I need to, can dust my hands off and walk away. I have achieved zero waste.
Just kidding. 😉
This is a process that requires conscious engagement with the stuff you bring into your life, how that stuff is used, and how it leaves your life. The work is never finished, but there are many rewards for putting in the effort.
While I’ve experienced some bizarre changes in my behavior, such as clipping my nails over a compost bucket, I’ve also started eating healthier and exposing my family to fewer toxins.
My chief interest in the zero waste lifestyle is shrinking my environmental footprint and I’ve already seen how this lifestyle has impacted my behavior, my footprint, and the people around me.
Many zero wasters believe they save money on this lifestyle and it seems logical. As we consume fewer items, make a habit of re-using what we have, and buying things pre-loved, then we should see financial benefit as well.
I will say that I’ve spent more money this month and bought more things. But, these are the kind of things that are investments, they will last a long time and save my family money in the long run.
I don’t think the Zero Waste movement is perfect, for reasons I will get into in the future, but I do think it is an important and powerful movement for walking the environmental talk.
Top 5 Tips For Going Zero Waste
1. Embrace the 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, & Rot. (The order is important.) For more information on this, check out Béa Johnson’s work.
2. Embrace minimalism and thoughtful consumption. Know your needs and enjoy simplicity through living with less. Minimalism is actually a centerpiece of the zero waste movement. It is really hard to curb your consumption if you don’t think about your needs.
3. Wait for things to run out: don’t bother trying to change everything at once. Instead, when things run out or break down, evaluate whether they need to be replaced and how to replace it in a zero waste way.
4. Explore what this lifestyle can do for you and your family. Do something fun with the money saved. Enjoy experiences together. Get out of debt. Put the money toward green investments like solar panels. Eat more whole foods. Whatever works for you.
5. Enjoy the process. Because this lifestyle requires continuous vigilance, it’s important to stay invigorated. Find ways to make it fun. Maybe compete with family members (friends or neighbors) to see who can go the longest before filling a bin or jar.
The Zero Waste Changes I Undertook During The Challenge
1. (Fr. 4/22) Cloth Grocery Bags
2. (Sa. 4/23) Cloth Diaper Wipes
3. (Su. 4/24) DIY Deodorant
4. (Mo. 4/25) Handkerchiefs
5. (Tu. 4/26) Water Bottles
6. (We. 4/27) DIY Surface Spray
7. (Th. 4/28) Composting
8. (Fr. 4/29) Second-Hand Kids’ Clothes
9. (Sa. 4/30) Period Gear / Feminine Hygiene
10. (Su. 5/1) Digital Books
11. (Mo. 5/2) To-Go Kit
12. (Tu. 5/3) Two-Bin Bathroom
13. (We. 5/4) DIY Toothpaste
14. (Th. 5/5) Prepared Snacks
15. (Fr. 5/6) Produce Bags
16. (Sa. 5/7) Organic Gardening Workshop & Planning
17. (Su. 5/8) Reminder Sign
18. (Mo. 5/9) My First Garbage Jar
19. (Tu. 5/10) Safety Raiser, Shave Soap & Brush
20. (We. 5/11) Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet
21. (Th. 5/12) Car Kit
22. (Fr. 5/13) Cold Care
23. (Sa. 5/14) Cloth Rags
24. (Su. 5/15) Party Planning
25. (Mo. 5/16) Mending
26. (Tu. 5/17) Zero Waste Methodology
27. (We. 5/18) Tea & Coffee
28. (Th. 5/19) Fashion
29. (Fr. 5/20) Composting Floor Scraps
30. (Sa. 5/21) Minimizing Food Waste
Where I’m Going From Here & A Year Later…
I see great value in continuing the transition to zero waste. As you’ve seen, I have a long way to go.
I will also share with you my best recipes (so far) so that you can easily access them from the top bar of my website. You will be able to find zero waste recipes for cleaning, hygiene, beauty, and, of course, food.
A year later and I’m still transitioning. I noticed in reviewing this challenge that not every new behavior actually stuck. I think that what I’ll do is make a focused commitment toward one new behavior at a time until it becomes an established habit. Then move on. A new task a day is good for introducing ideas, but not for making long term changes. Perhaps weekly or monthly goals would be better.
Until next time, keep that talk walking!