According to the EPA, the average American generates approximately 4.5 pounds of garbage a day, with 268.7 million tons generated nationwide. Only 67 million tons of that gets recycled, and 27 million tons composted.
That leaves a staggering amount of waste clogging our landfills and making its way into our waters and wildlife habitats. And we only have so much room on this planet for garbage.
In recent years, the term zero-waste has become a buzz word. A zero-waste lifestyle means living as waste free as possible, with some people able to fit their year’s worth of garbage into a small jar.
Going waste free is appealing for many reasons: it’s environmentally friendly, allows for a focus on a more minimal lifestyle, and can even save money.
But a zero-waste lifestyle can be daunting to dive into. If you are curious about living a waste free life, or ready to dive in, here’s a quick-start guide to tossing the trash… forever! Read on for more.
1. Take Small Steps
Don’t dive into zero-waste head-on, throwing everything you own out and splurging on all the best reusable items immediately.
Instead, use up what you have. Have some Styrofoam plates leftover from a party? Don’t just toss them. Better to at least use them first before turning them into trash.
Once you’ve run out of something less-sustainable, shop around for a zero-waste alternative.
Additionally, small steps like reusable straws, cups, and shopping bags can go a long way towards reducing your garbage footprint.
2. Refuse, Reuse, Recycle
In our hyper-consumptive culture, it’s hard to say no to the habit of acquiring new things. But before you click “buy” on that shoe sorting rack, think about why you need it in the first place.
Maybe you can just arrange your shoes nicely on your closet floor. Or repurpose an old bookshelf. Or go full Marie Kondo and donate the pairs that you rarely wear to a thrift shop.
Avoid the temptation of acquiring new things, when simplifying and minimizing could go a long way. Recycle and repurpose what you already have. You’ll probably find yourself with a fuller wallet and a less-cluttered living space.
3. Reduce Packaging
One of the biggest generators of non-compostable garbage is packaging, especially food packaging.
Evaluating your diet can go a long way towards helping you reduce your waste. Pre-packaged, individually wrapped meals and snacks? No thanks.
Eliminate those from your diet and not only feel better inside but also see your garbage pile shrink drastically. Buy more fresh fruits, veggies, and locally-sourced products. And bring your reusable bags!
4. Become Part of the Circular Economy
A circular economy serves as a contrast to the traditional economic model of produce, use, discard. Circular economies keep products in use and utilize waste to regenerate and maintain natural systems.
One of the biggest steps you can take to become part of the circular economy is to get into composting.
For more information, check out this article about zero waste economies
Waste Free, The Easy Way
The decision to go waste free is a wonderful step in the direction of living a sustainable and fulfilling life. Not only will you improve your health, but you will also make a sizeable impact on the amount of garbage clogging our planet.
If you would like more articles like this, subscribe to the newsletter below!