Going completely 'zero waste' is a challenge and a journey, so congratulations on taking your first baby steps! It's important to be mindful of the damage you contribute and take a step back to examine how you may be adding to our Earth becoming a toxic wasteland. But it's okay-- it's not too late to start! Here are 7 easy steps to start you on your journey to 'zero waste!
1. B.Y.O.B. Bring Your Own Bags!
This is probably obvious but you would be surprised at how many people do not care about spending a nickel on plastic bags! You're costing the earth more than a nickel! Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store, a clothing store, the gym, anywhere and everywhere. Eliminate unnecessary plastic!
2. Skip the straw!
Don't be one of those people-- just use a metal straw. When you're out to eat, alert your wait-staff that you don't want a plastic straw, or any straw for that matter! Amazon sells many metal straws that are easy to clean and have very convenient travel packaging. Many places in the United States have banned plastic straws already (including Suffolk County, NY, GO STONY BROOK!) If your community hasn't already, be the first to start the trend.
3. Stop wasting money on paper towels!
Paper towels are an unnecessary purchase when you most likely have a perfectly good substitute in your home right now! Gather up some cloth rags or purchase a cheap pack from Target or Bed Bath and Beyond and use them in replacement of paper towels. These cloths can be used to dry your hands, pots and pans, clean up spillage, or dust around the house. You can even make your own by cutting up old fabric!
4. ATTN. College Students: Use your own cutlery.
If you're in college, this one especially applies to you, or if you're just someone who's always on the go. Stop using plastic forks, knives, and spoons. Bring your own reusable utensils and clean them when you head back to your dorm room! You can find super sleek sets on Amazon for cheap.
5. Use a reusable water bottle.
Nearly everyone does this anyway but in case you needed a reminder, consider this next one to be for you. 1,500 plastic water bottles are used every second in the United States; so I guess some people haven't gotten the memo. Not only is a reusable water a huge money saver, it's also one of the best switches you can make to help the environment.
Fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Instead of running out and buying any old piece of garbage from Forever 21, go to the thrift store, have a clothing swap with your friends and/or organize one at your university!
Maybe going 'zero waste' takes a little more effort and 2% more thinking than your subconscious habit of doing something harmful to the environment. Taking an extra minute of your day to gather some cloth bags before shopping, fill up a reusable water bottle, and bring your metal straw to brunch, these are the small efforts we need everyone to make in order to turn our world green again. Take these baby steps in going 'zero waste' as an Earth Day present to our beautiful planet!