We’ve all seen the story about the people who have a year’s worth of trash in one small jar. Mad respect, but for most of us, that lifestyle is a bit of a reach. Now, I’m not here to lecture you on why you should care about the environment, but if this is something you’ve been thinking about or wanting to implement in your lifestyle, I’ve compiled 10 ways to move toward a waste-free life. I promise all of these are realistic, attainable, and in many cases, saves you money. Let’s do it.
1. Use Reusable Straws
Thought I’d start with the most obvious, here. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, tons and tons of restaurants and corporations are jumping on the no-more-plastic-straws train. While plastic straws only account for about 4% of plastic trash, this is still what environmentalists would consider an “easy win.” There’s hardly a lifestyle change involved, and it’s an inexpensive switch.
2. Buy Produce Bags
When shopping for produce, first ask yourself if it’s necessary to have a bag in the first place. For fruits and vegetables with a tough outer peel that are NOT edible (oranges, avocados, bananas, mangoes, onions, lemons, etc.) you do not need a bag. For fruits and vegetables that do not have a tough outer peel, (apples, spinach, grapes, broccoli, zucchini, etc.) opt for a reusable produce bag instead of the clear, single-use bags.
3. Bring Your Own Bag
Another no-brainer that I STILL see people neglecting. Luckily, some states already have legislation on plastic bags, whether they’re simply unavailable or only available for purchase. For many people, the battle on this one is making it a habit. Know yourself and your habits when it comes to shopping – do you go straight from work? Do you always drive? Do you make your sister drive because you don’t have a car? Me too! Keep your bags in a place that will be convenient to you.
4. Befriend Skoy Cloths
If you’re anything like me, you can go through a roll of paper towels in a matter of days. Not only is it expensive, but when your garbage can is half-full of half-used paper towels, something’s gotta give. Skoy Cloths are a reusable and biodegradable alternative to paper towels – equivalent to 15 rolls! When they’re dirty, you can throw them in microwave or dishwasher to disinfect, which is key when you pay for laundry. 😅 We love ‘em.
5. Stop Using Makeup Wipes
I grew up using Almay eye makeup remover pads, and many of my friends use large, towelette style face makeup wipes. Again– expensive and an unnecessary amount of waste (some wipes even include microplastic to make them stronger). Your face wash should be cleansing enough to remove most of your makeup, and an oil can remove the rest – I use coconut oil for my eyes and it works wonders. I’ve linked two tried-and-true face washes that bring me from a 7 to a 3 in no time! 🙂
6. Swap in Tupperware for Plastic Bags
Any half-used vegetable or fruit does not need a plastic bag. Throw them in a Tupperware instead. Bam. Done. OR, better yet, I just discovered that Trader Joe’s now offers waxed cotton food wraps. If anyone tries, let me know if they’re any good!
7. Carry Reusable Mugs and Water Bottles
Coffee shops and juice bars are getting better and better about accommodating this request, and many even offer a discount! Added bonuses: my Hydroflask with a straw lid has me drinking water all day, and my reusable mugs often get me more coffee than I paid for. My coffee mugs are probably from TJ Maxx or some festival that hands out branded promotional items, but here’s some quality stuff if you DON’T lose things like a child:
8. Learn How to Recycle
Each city has specific rules and ordinances for what they’ll accept. Do a quick Google search of your city and see where you can improve. A rule of thumb: anything tainted with food or grease (pizza boxes, empty jars, cans, etc.) are not accepted– so make sure you’re rinsing everything well before throwing it in the bin.
9. Get Creative
One of the biggest sources of our everyday plastic purchases are bathroom items – shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, body scrubs, you name it– many (if not all) are packaged in plastic. Think about what you can make or swap out. Things like shampoo bars (I, too, am a conditioner snob and cannot compromise yet), bamboo toothbrushes, and homemade washes/scrubs are a good place to start. This will also save you money! Win!
10. Switch Up Your Coffee Method
Keurigs and K-Cups are convenient and all, but the amount of waste it’s producing is scary. One article said “the amount of K-Cups trashed into landfills as of today could wrap around the planet more than 10 times!” Who knows if that’s true at all, but you get the point. Opt for a reusable K-Cup (it’ll save you so much $$) or if you’re in the market for a new coffeemaker, find one that doesn’t use paper filters.
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