Exactly one and a half years ago I decided to kick plastic to the curb! Ever since then I have been working towards living a zero waste lifestyle. Last year I decided to focus my New Year’s resolution on creating less waste, and by changing small habits one at a time, I did just that. With a little change of mindset, and making more conscious decisions, you too can start making a smaller environmental impact. This year, if you don’t have a resolution, or maybe you just think resolutions are silly, I challenge you to change one habit at a time, and kick unneeded plastic out of your life to make 2020 a less wasteful year.
LIST OF SECTIONS WHAT IS ZERO WASTE? THE POWER OF SMALL ACTIONS THE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION A GUIDE TO KICKING PLASTIC
What is Zero Waste?
Zero waste is not actually “zero”, as we always leave some kind of impact, but zero waste is the act of minimizing what ends up in the landfill and making decisions that help make our impact as small as possible. The products we buy are designed not to last, having materials end up in the landfill and environment. Zero waste living is trying to change the way we view materials, products, and resources, making sure that those resources are not being over exploited and we are using them carefully. It is about how you are living, what you are buying, and how you are using what you already have. That’s it. It is how we think about those three things.
The Power of Small Actions
“It’s only one coffee cup,” said 30 million people. It may not seem like you are making any difference by carrying a travel mug with you wherever you go. You might feel like you are only one person, and you can’t possibly make any difference on your own. But imagine if the 30 million adults over the age of 18 years old currently living in Canada thought in the same way. What if every adult used a travel mug everyday, drank from the rim of the cup instead of using a straw, and refused to buy produce with plastic packaging. Each individual contributes to a big change, and without the efforts of millions of people taking a stand to change the way we view products, the change wouldn’t be as successful.
A great example that demonstrates how small actions work together to create large change, is the women’s rights movement. Emily Stowe, a Canadian woman living in Ontario in 1876, had to work illegally (because women were not allowed to work) to support her children and sick husband. She was forced to go to New York to obtain a medical degree because Canadian women were not allowed to attend higher education at that time. Upon return to Toronto, she started the Toronto Women’s “Literary Club”, which in fact was a women’s rights group. Many others continued with efforts like this, and after decades of struggle and thousands of signatures in support of women’s rights, 1916 yielded women to legally vote in provincial elections in most Canadian provinces. Large groups of people had been protesting, attending legislature sessions, creating community groups, and supporting equality groups like Stowe’s. This strong support and whole-hearted protest eventually resulted in women’s rights to vote, followed by education rights, allowance to play organized sport, equal working rights, and the list goes on. None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the support and efforts of many people working together.
The same goes for the pressing world issue of disposable living. Where unneeded packaging and resource overuse destroying the environment, can be changed if we all make an effort to help. The change starts with individuals protesting this issue through our choices, like the purchases we make for example. Take a plastic wrapped English cucumber. If no one bought these cucumbers, wrote letters to the company, and demanded a different packaging solution, a more sustainable alternative would be introduced. If it’s not fixed now, it will continue to be a problem for those after us, just like the people of the 20th century who took a stand for all the women who would come after them and enjoy their distinguished efforts.
The New Year’s Resolution
Maybe you are brand new to the idea of zero waste and don’t know where to start, or you’ve been at it a while and want to continue your zero waste journey. Let’s make 2020 a year of less waste! We can all do this by changing small wasteful things in our lives, one at a time, and implement more sustainable alternatives instead. My zero waste New Year’s resolution this year is to ask more questions to become more informed about where our waste goes, and to find more vegetarian recipes that can be made package free. I also want to continue sharing my experiences, advice, and sustainable tips in this space with all of you who read, share, and make an effort to change your lifestyle too. What’s your goal for less waste this year?
A Guide to Kicking Plastic
If you don’t know the answer to the above question, you’re in luck! Below I have compiled a list of some of the things you can start with this year to become more eco friendly and single-use plastic free. If this list or the idea of cutting out lifestyle choices scares you, not to fear! Just try choosing one thing on this list to start. Then, when you successfully implement that thing, try starting another one. It’s that simple.
Use your own shopping bags… and produce bags too so you can avoid juggling your fruits!
Avoid plastic wrapped produce, cause there’s no point in doing the step above if the produce is in packaging.
Shop in bulk if it is available, using your own containers.
Look for companies that use compostable, recyclable, or at least less packaging on their products.
Read the labels on products.
Look for alternatives to ziploc bags such as beeswax wraps, fabric snack bags, or silicone resealable bags like Stashers.
Take your travel mug with you everywhere as if it’s the coolest thing you own.
Use refillable options for things like soap, laundry detergent, and lotion.
Try switching to unpackaged bar soap if refillable options are not available.
Switch to unpackaged deodorant. It took me a while to find the right one for me, but once I did, I made the choice to never switch back!
Be more classy than plastic utensils – skip the straw at restaurants and bring your own cutlery to group functions or outdoor parties.
Try making your own baked goods like bread every once in a while to save the store packaging.
Try other DIY products, such as my lemon vinegar all purpose cleaner linked here.
Lastly, use a reusable water bottle or invest in a water filter if you really hate the taste of your water.
These are all good plastic free places to start! Remember, it’s all about many people changing small things one at a time. If you’d like more input on any of these ideas or have questions about something that isn’t here, let me know in the comments or send me a message!
May your resolutions be a journey of learning that leads to growth and success.