In theory, the decision to go waste-free should be a no-brainer. It's estimated that the average American throws out 1200 pounds of trash a year that could have been recycled and that global waste is pacing to triple by 2100—why wouldn't you do your best to minimize landfill?
The issue is that in reality completely eliminating trash from your lifestyle isn't just hard—it's near impossible for anyone who loves bottled water, lives on takeout, or shops at any major supermarket. If you're not prepared to forage for food or ditch tampons for the rest of your life, there are ways to reduce your waste without overhauling your lifestyle.
Take up the challenge to reduce or completely banish your waste for one week by following these simple, realistic steps.
Carry What You Can
First up: Try to reduce or eliminate plastic bags and plastic bottles from your routine. Lauren Singer, a New Yorker who follows a zero-waste lifestyle, says the key is to carry two items with you: a reusable bag and a water bottle. Americans used 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, so something as simple as putting a reusable glass bottle in your bag does have an impact. If you love bottled water, opt for a filter at home, and fill it up before you leave.
Invest in a French Press
Yes, the way you take your coffee does impact the environment. Nespresso sells in excess of 27 billion coffee pods each year and it takes 500 years for one aluminum or plastic pod to break down. Don't worry, you don't have to suffer through caffeine withdrawals. Instead, opt for a French press to brew coffee at home or at work. Ground beans have minimal packaging and can be bought in bulk, so they're a better alternative for the environment.
Buy in Bulk
If you're not quite prepared to go zero waste, consider buying in bulk instead. The plastic containers that hold common household items like face wash and dish soap usually go straight into a landfill, so try buying large bottles and decant what you need into pump bottles instead.
Question Your Shopping List
It can be difficult to eliminate all packaged goods from your shopping cart, but the more fresh produce you buy, the better it will be for your body and the environment. Next time you go shopping, challenge yourself to only shop in the fresh food aisle. Better yet, visit a local farmers markets to buy fruits and vegetables directly from the source.
Upgrade Your Tupperware
Plastic Tupperware isn't made to last. It bleeds BPA into your food and slowly degrades with heat. Instead, swap old containers for glass or stainless steel alternatives. They'll last for years, not months, and will reduce the number of plastic replacements you buy in the future.
Leftover food counts as waste, too. According to One Green Planet, roughly 40% of food goes to waste in the U.S., a lot of which could be composted instead of trashed. Add these easy recipes to your repertoire to make your leftover food go further.
Simplify Your Cleaning Supplies
How many cleaning products do you own? From special surface and window sprays to microfiber clothes and washing up utensils, it's easy to accumulate tons of plastic bottles containing harsh chemicals. Zero waste proponents claim a few natural alternatives suffice. Stock up on apple cider vinegar and castile soap when your supply runs out, and consider a bamboo toothbrush in place of your plastic disposable one.
Have you tried to go trash-free? What tips do you have for other people looking to follow suit?