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30 tips toward a low-waste or zero-waste lifestyle

Posted by Teresa Mazey on

It's January 2020 and I thought it was about time a make a list of tips for you.  These will be added every few days until January 30th, 2020.

Step 1:  AWARNESS

This is my first tip to starting the journey to low waste lifestyle. That's what I will call it today. It's less intimidating and more attainable for most people. Start thinking of everything you use weekly and become more aware of what is single use. Take recycling out of the equation for now and really look. Do you want to start using less this year? Do you want to be more eco-responsible with your choices? Do you want to save money? Do you want to eat healthier? There are many reasons to cut down or eliminate waste. Everyone is different be honest with yourself on your reasons why.
Going through your day see what things you can cut out. It's late you really want that cup of coffee but can you wait until you get home? Do you have a reusable cup? Can you go into the store with your reusable cup? Did you know that many drive through coffee places stage your coffee in a disposable cup until you get to the window? Maybe just say no today. If everyone said no for one day that would save over 43 million coffee cups.
Be aware of the waste cycle of items starting with manufacturing all the way to end, or grave.

 

Step 2 - BEING PREPARED

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This kit takes a little more time to get used to but creates more good habits.
The large tiffin containers have been great to pack up restaurant leftovers and for us taking food to markets. I use unpaper towels for napkins until they get to stained and then I use them for unpaper towels. The straw bags we make are big enough for silverware, chopsticks and numerous straws. Bags and misc jars are a plus in the kit as well. I bring enough for more than just my husband and I. If it's just you and you are on a budget bring one fork, one straw, one bag (a plastic bag is fine to if that's all you have) ,one cup and one container (old sour cream, butter, pickle jar).
Step 1 was awareness so you should be aware of how much you use conveniences when you are out and what you can sub the single use items for.
A couple of other tips:
A basket works nicely if you have glass jars they tend to be more steady.
How cute would a zero waste car kit be in a vintage train case!?!?!?!
I leave my items that go back in the car on the kitchen table so as to annoy myself until I take them out.
Need a cup check out the thrift stores.
Happy kit packing my friends!

 

Step 3: Reusable shopping Bags

 

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Step 3: Reusable Grocery Bags Bags are one of the easiest switches that most people have already made but...the hard part is remembering to bring them with you, right? Read on for my tips on how to make this a habit. Empty Bin Zero Waste'

 

I know this is a hot topic in Cleveland right now since Cuyahoga County banned plastic shopping bags.
A few things to know about the bag ban:
1. Some cities opted out of it.
2. Bags are still available for things like meat and dry cleaning.
3. Paper bags are usually available for a small price, $0.10.
There are and have been so many options for reusable shopping bags for quite a long time. My mom used hers when we went to Aldi when I was growing up so it was not a hard change for me.
Do you want plastic types, non woven poly bags, canvas bags, nylon bags, or cotton? Here are the benefits of each and price ranges.
1. Plastic bags that are firm and larger. Made of virgin plastic so oil and resources bare used to make the bags but they are strong, big, and last years. Easy to clean in a large sink our with the backyard hose. Marc's stores carry these for around $0.69.
2. Non-woven bags are the ones usually given out for promotions. Small but strong and will last 3-5 years. Man made materials so oil and resources used to make the bags. You can find these at thrift stores or at grocery stores from $1-$10. @ohiooceanfoundation has some for sale if you want your proceeds to go to a great non-profit.
3. Canvas bags are tough and should last many years. Canvas is made from many different materials but the most popular is cotton. Material uses a lot of water when being made so finding one preused would be best. These can range from $7-$20 and can be machine washed. We have two left in out store on sale for $9. You can find in better quality stores, online, and at thrift stores
4.Nylon bags are super strong and light weight but they are also made of man made materials which again take natural resources. These are my husband's favorite. He uses @chicobag because the fold back up into the attached little bag. You can find these online and in some stores for $6.99 - $14.00.
5. Recycled bags are great and we personally love the Vita Repete bags from chico bags. They are stronger than the classic and a little bigger but made our of plastic water bottles. Find online or in our Canton store for $14.99- $20.
6. Reuse bags you already have!
Tips to remember your bags: Put a hook right by the door you leave our of and put the bags there as soon as they are empty. Grab when you leave the house. If you forget your bags in your car walk back and get them or take the paid groceries out in just the cart and pack in bags at the car. This work too if you forget your bags completely just put it all in the back until you get home. If you do this enough you will start to remember to bring them because this is more of a hassle.
Also take you bags everywhere NOT just the grocery store. ANYSTORE!
Any tips from you?

Step 4: Reusable Water Bottles

 

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This is in the beginning of the list because once you get into the habit ofbringing a full water bottle with you it is a huge help to the environment and your finances.
The amount of bottled water purchased every week in the U.S. could circle the globe five times.
1 gallon of bottled water costs 2,000 times more than a gallon of tap water.
It takes three time the water to make the bottle as it does to fill it.
All plastic is made with oil.
Many bottle water companies use tap water that is filtered and treated.
My habit: I used to take a glass liter jar with me but have switched to a yeti cup as the water stays colder longer. Here is the kicker. If you drink more or may drink more than your reusable bottle then bring an extra one. If I am going for longer than and hour or two I have a 21 ounce or 32 ounce than I bring filled up with water. If I go all day like at pop up markets I take my gallon yeti..
I have not purchased a bottle of water in over two years!
Just refuse to buy it and refuse it if given to you. You will get in the habit. *Obviously you know your body and it is not worth risking your health to refuse water if you need it.
We offer free filtered water at our Canton store so if you are in the area and need a refill stop in. No purchased necessary. I am waiting to hear back from "Refill not Landfill" to get on the list.
I filter water at home with bamboo activated charcoal sticks. They are in one glass pitcher and once it's filtered (at least an hour) I pour it into a larger glass pitcher in case we have visitors. It takes my yucky Akron water and makes it taste and smell like spring water.
If you have a big concern with you water quality Berkey filters are pretty awesome but expensive.
Bottles are recyclable but it is widely discussed that only 8-10% of items actually get recycled.
It is also not recommended that you refill the plastic water bottle. These single-use items can leach chemicals into your water if heated (leaving in a hot car) or scratched.

 

Step 5: Switch to Bar Soaps.

 

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This one is pretty simple and straight forward. Save the water and packaging when you switch from products like liquid cleaners and shampoos.
These items tend to cost less and last longer as well.
Everyone is different so finding a shampoo bar that works for everyone is impossible. You just have to set out and try a few to see which works best. If you have a few friends that are interested in switching you can each get a bar from a different company and cut then into the amount that you need and all share. This is the most economic way to find your next beauty product. I tried about 6 different ones before opening the store. I cut them in half and shared with my step daughter.
Make sure that you have a good draining dish or hang your soap to dry in between uses. This will greatly extend the life of your natural soaps.
Please note that I have received bars wrapped in plastic that I had to return. Make sure you are telling companies that you want no plastic and minimal shipping contents.
Shipping a bar instead of a liquid is much better for our environment!
My favorite bar soaps:
@redbudsuds 4 in 1 bar. Shampoo, conditioner, body, and shaving.
@bestowedessentials package free shampoo bars and stain sticks.
@notoxlife has amazing dish washing bars, detox bars, and package free deodorant.
@albatross_sailing has great shaving barsl that come in tins.

Step 6: Thrift Stores

 

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Step 6 6: Thrift Stores Some of my favorite things I have gotten at the the local thrift store'

I will be talking about resale and consignment shops later in the month.
I started going to thrift stores in 1990 when you could find vintage dresses and cool stuff constantly. I've the last 30 years the stores have gotten more popular and it's more of a hunt when you go.
Buying used clothes aligns with zerowaste perfectly because you are keeping textiles out of the trash and no buying into the fast fashion of the season .
The average American throws out 81 pounds of clothes every year.
Wearing secondhand clothing creates environment benefits from few carbon emissions, saves water, and reduces trash.
My top tips:
1. Figure out which day of the week is best for you. I seem to find more on Tuesdays.
2. Give yourself plenty of time so you don't make impulsive purchases. If you have a big cart full go over it and eliminate at least a few items.
All the drip dishes in the store are from the thrift store. My favorite find, for $6, is a counter top composter pail!
Fast fashion is a big problem that a lot of people do not know about. Most of the store that sell clothes in our area are full of items in style, not meant to last, and made from synthetic fibers.
I like the Village Thrift and Goodwill. I know there are others around. Get furniture, dishware, decor, etc at your local thrift shop!
What is you favorite thrift store?

Step 7: Reusable produce bags!

 

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These are a favorite of mine because I love making them. I use curtains and tablecloths to make each bag unique.
We have already talked about the wasteful plastic bags and this goes right along with those. Plastic produce bags do not keep your veggies fresh or last longer. They simply travel home with you so that your veggies and fruit do not touch the cart.
Place these inside your reusable shopping bags and you will be ready to go.
We have the repurposed produce bags, cotton string bags, and cotton bulk bags at the store. I do not recommended using nylon or polyester produce bags. These are made from virgin materials and container plastics. Washing those bags releases microplastics into the water and out of your drier vent.
I personally do not worry about the tare weight since the bags are so light. You can even make your own out of bed sheets or pillowcases!
Do you take produce bags to the store or will you start taking produce bags?

 

 

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