In recent years, the zero waste lifestyle has gotten more attention, partially because of the extreme challenges that a few have undertaken. There are a few people like Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer who have been able to go for an entire year or more while generating only a Mason jar’s worth of trash. Compared to the average waste production of 4.9 pounds per day by those in the United States, that is an incredible difference. These extreme attempts at preventing waste production may not be sustainable for most people, but there are still many lessons to learn from these zero waste experts to adopt your own low waste lifestyle.
Reducing your consumption starts with a shift in your lifestyle habits and making a conscious choice to alter your routines. Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home is credited with expanding the original three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) into the five R’s for low waste living.
The minimalist movement has been growing alongside the low waste movement as people try to reduce and simplify their belongings. Pay attention to what items in your home you actually use or need on a regular basis, and find ways to release what you do not. Instead of sending these extra items to the landfill, see what you can pass on to others, donate, or even resell. Part of this concept is reducing your consumption and only buying things that you actually need, and being conscious of what types of items you buy.
Before sending items to the trash, see if there are ways to reuse them in a different way like using old clothing as fabric for a reusable produce bag or instead of paper towels for wiping up messes. This also takes away the need to buy more things. Reuse can also mean looking for reusable items like having a reusable water bottle and coffee mug or having a refillable soap dispenser that can be filled from a bulk supply.
Recycling is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste, simply by taking the time to sort out materials which can be recycled before sending them out to the curb. Take the time to check your local trash and recycling services to determine what types of items they can take as recycling and how to prepare them.
A difficult part of going low waste is having to learn to refuse that which you don’t need. This may be in situations including talking to friends and family about wanting to bring less items into your home during gift giving occasions or going paperless with billing and communication from companies you use.
Food scraps and yard waste may break down, but do not do so efficiently when sent to landfills. They take up space which increases the need for landfill expansion, and also produce a significantly higher amount of methane when put in that environment. Composting uses these natural materials and breaks them down so they can be used in other ways like fertilizing gardens. Some cities are starting to incorporate pick up composting services but it is also possible to compost at home. They have large composters for outside areas and even small countertop composters which can be used even in small spaces like an apartment.
It may seem appealing to try to jump right into a new low waste lifestyle and overhaul your life, but taking a slower, more gradual approach is more likely to end with real and lasting change. If you want to try reducing your waste, take stock of your current waste situation for a day or week. Write down what you are consuming or producing and see where you can start making swaps for plastic-free items or switching to reusable items. No change is too small to start.
When it’s time to get rid of your waste, Brazos Valley Trash & Recycling Services is here for you. Contact us today for more information.