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What Does Zero Waste Really Mean?

Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle can bring a big shift in most households. But, like anything else, making small steps to your larger goal can be a great start.

The US population represents only about 5% of the world as a whole, but we create about 30% of the world’s waste. This builds up in the nearly two thousand landfills across our country. Our disposable society has made generating garbage quite easy. Think about the plastic water bottles, paper cups, napkins, plastic utensils, food packaging you use in a day. Then multiply that by everyone in your family - it adds up quickly.

A completely zero waste lifestyle may not be realistic, but think about the ways you can start cutting down on what you discard. Here are some ideas you can consider:

  • Instead of paper towels, opt for reusable cloths that can be cleaned and sanitized between uses (old sheets and towels can be upcycled into kitchen rags).
  • Find natural sponges and cleaners that can be utilized in a variety of ways.
  • Change out your old lightbulbs to energy efficient LEDs.
  • If you’re chilly, make sure you’re wearing a warm sweater and socks before turning up the heat.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.

  • Buy in bulk to reduce packaging, or even bring your own containers when buying loose items.
  • Bring your own reusable bags. If you have trouble remembering them, keep them in the trunk of your car.
  • Take advantage of your local sharing economy (like libraries) and donate unused items to a family or organization who can continue to use them.
  • Make a trip to your local farmer’s market and buy in-season and local produce.

  • Utilize reusable containers instead of disposables, this can work whether you pack your lunch or pick up something to go.
  • Go digital! Review documents and take notes on a screen or device instead of printing it on paper. 

Recycling is better than discarding, but not generating trash altogether is ideal. We’d love to hear your suggestions on how starting a path towards zero waste might work for your family.