If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably heard about topics like “how to go zero waste” or “reusable alternatives to…”.
If so, you might be wondering why someone would want to do such a thing or what the benefits of it are.
Today I’m going to answer common question about reducing waste, since that is a much more attainable goal than completely eliminating all waste we might create.
What is zero or low waste?
The idea behind “zero waste” is that it is possible for us as humans to completely eliminate all waste we ever create.
- not producing any trash
- never wasting any food
- always buying reusable items (and never getting rid of them)
Doesn’t sound very attainable, does it?
As a crunchy mom, I love the idea of reducing the amount of waste I’m creating, but it’s just not very attainable to completely stop producing any waste at all.
Why is zero waste not possible?
Some people do it? Why can’t everyone?
If you want to put in the effort going completely zero waste requires, you can. However, the truth is that none of us can ever be 100% zero waste. It’s just not feasible.
As humans, we’re not perfect. Even if we try to not create trash, we’ll inevitably end up creating some waste anyway.
There are just some products, whether because of durability of sanitation, that are just better left as single-use products.
Plus, most of us don’t have the time or money for it, even if we like the overall idea.
Why is reducing waste important?
Now, I know I just said that reaching a state of being completely zero-waste is not possible, but it’s still important to reduce waste in our homes.
Striving to create less waste can help our health and the environment at the same time.
By buying and using reusable products, you can also save money because you’re buying a product once, not over and over again. Yes, there’s a bit more of an investment up front, but it doesn’t take long for that to be paid off in money saved.
According to the University of Colorado – Boulder, the average American produces 4.40 pounds of garbage per day, which amounts to 230 million tons per year.
Since lots of disposable products, including plastic and styrofoam, take hundreds of years to break down, they just pile up in our landfills. Reducing waste means that we can help slow the filling of landfills.
By reducing waste, we can also save energy and resources by not buying products that need to be produced over and over again.
How can we reduce waste at home?
1. Do it slowly
Just like any other life change, trying to change everything over to reusable alternatives at once is not sustainable.
If you try to do so, you’re likely to get overwhelmed with the additional work that comes with using reusable items and revert back to “easier” disposable products.
Additionally, you don’t have to switch over every single product today. Instead, pay attention to what you’re running out of and replace it with a more sustainable product.
2. Switch out one product at a time
As you switch over to reusable items, pick one item at a time (see above note about replacing things as you run out of them).
You can also choose a room to start in, such as the bathroom or the kitchen.
Here are examples of things you can switch out in these rooms:
- Water bottles
- Paper towels
- Plastic wrap
- Aluminum foil
- Paper plates
- Plastic cups
- Plastic silverware
- Face wipes/makeup removing wipes
- Hand soap dispensers
- Shampoo and conditioner bottles
3. Find something similar to what you were using
If you’re the only one in your house who’s committed to reducing waste, you might feel like you’re not making much of a difference.
One way to help convince your husband and kids to use reusable products is to find zero/low waste alternatives that are similar to what they’re used to.
For example, you can get reusable water bottles with screw-off lids that are much like disposable water bottles. Or you can get beeswax wraps that can be used just like plastic wrap, just without throwing them away when you take them off.
That way, they won’t have to learn how to do something completely new. Instead, they can continue doing things how they have been, just with grabbing a different item to use.
4. Research “lower-waste alternatives to…”
Not sure if waste free alternatives exist for an item you want to stop throwing away?
The internet to the rescue!
Simply type in the above phrase (complete with the product you’re researching) into your favorite search engine or Pinterest, and you’re likely to find tons of ideas!
When it comes to reducing waste in our homes, it doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming.
By simply changing things a little at a time, we can make a big difference in the amount of waste we create, and we can save money at the same time.