It's been a while since I last wrote about my overall journey to less waste. I've mentioned small steps I've taken, like switching to Zero Waste laundry products, keeping a Zero Waste on the Go Kit, and shopping at bulk stores but wanted to share a little about my overall philosophy.
Yesterday, I attended a presentation at my local library that got me thinking about how far I've come in my practice, from living in Europe where recycling was a no-brainer, to the ultimate eco-friendly city of Portland, and to now living in a small town where Zero Waste resources seem (but are not) inexistent.
So I thought I'd write a little piece about what I do on the daily to lower my impact on the planet, following...
The 5 Rs of Zero Waste
I try to prevent waste from getting into my life in the first place.
- I refuse the tote bag full of useless promotional material and objects at conferences, the flyers given to me on the street, and the five extra paper napkins at the food cart.
- I order my matcha "for here" in a real cup (and transfer it to my reusable mug if I'm in a rush while I wait for my coffee shop to allow serving in personal mugs because it is safe to do so)
- I keep track of junk mail and take action as soon as it arrives in my mailbox.
I try to reduce the things I need
First, I shop less - because I have fewer temptations where I am right now (living in a pandemic, living in a rural town)
Then I shop mindfully - I shop local (I walk to the grocery store), package-free (at the farmers market), small (from a local maker for example)
I try to reuse what's already here as many times as possible
I wear and use the same things day after day.
I mend or repair things when they need it (or are about to need it)
I take advantage of the sharing economy. I participate in clothing swaps, I get and donate items via my local Buy Nothing group, I check out books from the library, and I borrow things from friends and neighbors rather than buying them if I know I won't use them often.
I try to recycle things that I cannot refuse, reduce or reuse
It's always a work in progress. The amount of recycling I produce goes up and down depending on how busy I am, the time of the year, and where I live. I try not to beat myself about it, but make sure I keep an eye on it and identify whether action can be taken (for example, shall I try to make my own yogurt to avoid the plastic tub?)
Composting is my jam!
Food waste can make up a big part of what is sent to landfills, where it does not belong. Most landfills are not designed to store organic materials that decompose and create methane gas emissions in the process.
And compost is "black gold", why bury it in a landfill when it can be used in gardening, horticulture, and agriculture?
I've given vermicomposting a try, but given the amount of fruit and vegetables we eat at home, I quickly "upgraded" to a compost tumbler that was actually given to me via Buy Nothing!
Now my food feeds my plants, how cool is that?
The Share Waste website, where neighbors share their compost bin with you, is also a great resource when you do not have access to composting.
What about you? Is there a zero waste tip you'd like to share with us? I'd love to know?