Living a zero waste life


I have always been someone that recycled and is passionate about the environment. I took an environmental science class in college and loved every minute of it. When I moved out on my own I wanted to recycle everything and do my part but as I have gotten older I realized I needed to do more.

Once I started looking into the zero waste lifestyle I was shocked at how much plastic we use daily that we don't even think about. Your toothbrush is plastic, your deodorant is in a plastic tube and so on. There is so much plastic that is being thrown away all the time and it is a serious problem. The question is how do we make the change?



I am by no means a professional zero waster. I have just started my journey and it has been a pretty easy transition so far. The first step was to look at what we used the most and how we could make it zero waste.

Paper Towels
This one is an easy fix. Just use bar towels, tea towels or scrap fabric to clean with. You can make unpaper towels but for some of us who can't sew that isn't an option. I am all about supporting people who make these items though and you can find a lot on etsy. Just ask that they use as little packaging as possible when they ship. I mostly buy towels from thrift stores and auctions when I find them.

Laundry Soap and Dryer Sheets
I was a little nervous about this one because I am picky about my soap. I have sensitive skin and some detergents will irritate it but by reducing the chemicals I have found it super easy. I make my own soap and dryer sheets (DIYs coming soon!) but you can also buy them from etsy.

Bathroom Toiletries
My main concern with this was deodorant and toothpaste. I hate the idea of smelling bad and most of the healthier deodorants I have tried were not effective for me. The problem is that most commercial deodorants is that they have things in them that cause cancer; It's a fact. I decided to make my own and I haven't looked back. I also started making my own toothpaste because making these items meant less waste anyway. For soap I use Dr. Bronner's (which can not be recycled) but I use it for hair and everything. I also make my own shave cream (DIY coming soon!) and use a stainless steel razor.

Toilet paper is the one thing I will not compromise on so I now buy Seventh Generation. It is unbleached and made from 100% recycled material. You can buy it wrapped in paper and not plastic but that option is hard to find in my area. The plastic can be recycled but that is a whole other issue. As for pads and tampons I found out about Glad Rags from Trash is for Tossers so I bought some and will review them when I use them!

Food and Pantry
I was most excited about this because I love to cook. I have always wanted a well stocked pantry in jars anyway so this was just an excuse to do just that. I stocked up on jars from friends, family and thrift stores. I bought a few of the bigger ones from this website. The packaging was terrible, lots of packing tape, but the jars were cheap. I just fill them with the things we use most from bulk bins and not only is it zero waste but cute too.

For food, we buy things that are in packaging that we can compost or reuse. As a vegetarian I get a lot of produce but we also eat a lot of pasta at my house. I have found it at Whole Foods in the bulk bins but the closest WF is an hour and a half away. Sometimes I just buy a box and be done with it. I would love to shop exclusively at the farmers market but our market is from May to October and our local one is very small. To go to a really good one I have to drive an hour. If we can't reuse the container or compost it then we try to avoid it.

Shopping
I typically used reusable bags when I went to the store anyway so this wasn't a huge change for me. The biggest problem was remembering to bring them. If I forget them I get things bagged in paper or buy a few more reusable bags. My pile of bags is getting quite large. As a vegetarian I don't have to worry about meat but my roommate (and sister) does so we try to get it in as little packaging as possible from the local meat counter. You can ask about them putting it in your own containers but, having been in the food service industry for over five years, I know health codes are very strict. You can ask but don't get mad if they say no.

These are some of the things I have found helpful in my transition. If you have any ideas that I haven't talked about, let me know in the comments below. I love to learn and get tips from people about this!