Approaching Zero: waste management and the move to "zero waste"
Creative waste management is one of the foundations of modern, green living. We've written about recycling, reducing, reusing and - of course - upcycling before. But what if you're ready to go further with your waste management? Have you considered going "zero waste"?
There are experts now who specialize in helping institutions and organizations go zero waste, meaning they produce zero (or next-to-zero) waste in their day-to-day operations. But average, everyday people are trying it, too - and it is easier to start than you make think!
So, you're already recycling your recyclables. You reuse things around the house when you know what to do with them, and you buy second-hand and upcycled goods when you can. But you're still producing a half-a-bag or more of trash everyday! What are the next steps you can take to move towards a zero-waste lifestyle?
Here are a few tips for getting started.
In the kitchen:
- Already take reusable bags to the grocery store? Bring along some produce bags and big jars or tupperware containers, too. You can put all your produce in the bags, and get your meat products from the butcher put straight into the jars. If your grocery store has a bulk section, then many things like cereal, beans, grains and snacks can be put in reusable containers, too!
- Never throw away another napkin, paper towel or sponge again! Instead, use reusable cloths, rags and steel wool.
- When you can't buy bulk products for your reusable containers, buy the most minimally packaed products available - and remember that egg cartons and milk cartons are easily reused!
In the bathroom:
- Start making your own cleaning supplies, and then you can reuse the same bottles over and over again.
- Use washable rags instead of sponges.
- Try your hand at making your cosmetic and body products (those can go in reusable containers, too!).
In the bedroom:
- Donate used clothes, bags, shoes and accessories to your local thrift store or charity.
- We know you can't donate or buy every clothing item second-hand. So learn to sew! If you can repair, hem, and adjust your clothing then you extend its life, and this means less packaging comes home with new purchases and less clothing ends up in the trash!
In the garden:
- Composting is a great way to reduce kitchen waste, and we have some awesome composters for you to check out. But your garden is the real winner, here!
- Many big, miscellaneous things around the house can be saved from the trash and turned into beautiful landscaping elements. Broken furniture like box spring mattresses and coffee tables can become raised garden beds, and just about anything from an old toilet to a bicycle can be turned into a planter. And if you're short on broken furniture and still want the cool look that comes from upcycled yard art, be sure to check out our garden section.
It takes a lot of work to cultivate a zero-waste lifestyle, but the challenge is undoubtedly rewarding. Find new, creative ways to reduce your household waste and you might even reach that fateful day when you can't remember the last time you had to take out the trash!
Danielle is an upcycling, green living, environmentally friendly, recycling, tree-hugging freak of nature... in the most eco way possible of course! She spends her weekends saving the planet and will now be writing about it for the Hipcycle Blog.