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So where is this whole “zero waste living” thing coming from? I’ve never posted anything like this before and thought I would give you a little bit of an intro to my (mini) obsession with shrinking my environmental footprint.
In case you haven’t been around here for long, you should know that I’m a big Harry Potter fan. (See this HP tag for further evidence.) So it should come as no surprise that I follow a number of the actors from the films on social media. Emma Watson, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Tom Felton… Okay, maybe I follow ’em all. But lately Bonnie Wright has been inspiring me in a big way with her work with Greenpeace and how she uses her platform to educate others about the plight of our oceans and the entire earth!
I am by no means waste free (honestly, we’re not even close), but I’m making headway, and that’s what matters. Start small with the tips below and
Take your own bags to the grocery store.
And I don’t just mean ones to replace your plastic grocery bags (though that’s a great entry-level habit that I’ve been working on for years). It didn’t occur to me until I started digging into zero waste living, but you can also bring reusable bags to replace the little plastic ones that you put a bell pepper or a bundle of green onions in before promptly throwing them in the trash.
I bought these ones from Amazon for $15, and I love them. You get 12 bags in 3 different sizes, they’re breathable with drawstring closures, and you can pop them in the washing machine if they get dirty.
Use a stainless steel straw and reusable utensils.
Can you believe it never occurred to me that something as silly as a plastic straw makes a difference in our oceans and landfills? Americans throw away 500 million plastics straws every day. Every day. 24 hours = 500 million little pieces of plastic that will eventually end up in our oceans. That’s why something as simple as carrying around a stainless steel straw can make a huge difference. (I like this set with straight and curved straws!)
Swap your individual K-Cups for a reusable one.
I’ve had a Keurig since college, and when I think about all the K-Cups that I’ve thrown in the trash, I cringe. If you also rely on the convenience of Keurig for your morning caffeine fix, you should definitely switch to a reusable K-Cup. Not only is it better for the environment, but ground coffee or coffee beans are cheaper and you know your coffee is fresh when you brew it!
Carry a refillable water bottle and coffee cup.
Zero waste living is a constant battle of choosing what’s best for our planet over what’s easy, and we all know that bottled water is no bueno. I don’t go anywhere without my refillable Nalgene (though I actually have this bookish one from Powell’s Books). Bonus tip: Drinking from a huge 32-oz. water bottle will help you track your water intake and keep you from getting dehydrated!
I also make sure to take a travel mug with me if I’m forgoing my reusable K-Cup for some brews from Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m a big fan of Tervis tumblers and their millions of unique designs!
Switch out your wasteful dryer sheets for wool dryer balls.
This one was another no-brainer swap that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered once I read about it. I can’t even fathom the number of dryer sheets I used once and threw away each year because this swap was so simple. I actually find that the wool dryer balls get your clothes dry faster, and you can use essential oils if you miss that fresh laundry scent!
Pro tip from my Captain Planet friend Sarah (no seriously, I’m pretty sure she once took recyclables home from parties when we were in college): Buy dark wool dryer balls because you can use them for your lights and your darks because lighter dryer balls have a tendency to leave white fibers on dark clothes. I went for this pack of wool dryer balls that are half white and half grey!
Make your beauty routine more environmentally friendly with reusable cotton pads instead of cotton balls.
Here’s yet another moment when I thought It can’t really be that simple, right? Wrong. This set of bamboo makeup remover pads comes with a laundry bag, so when they’re dirty you just pop them in the washing machine and go about the rest of your day knowing you are killing it at this zero waste living thing!
I use them most often to apply toner and remove eye makeup, though I’m going to give them the real test this week: removing nail polish. I’ll keep you posted.
Say goodbye to tampons and pads.
That’s right, ladies. Even your menstrual cycle decisions can make a difference! I’m impatiently awaiting my first order from Thinx, and I have to tell you, I’m pretty pumped about it. At first I didn’t know if I was really a reusable feminine product kind of girl, but then I thought Why not?
Considering trying out some period undies for yourself? Use my link to get $10 off your order: http://ref.thinxify.me/iCDrd
Practice moderation in all things!
I almost didn’t include this little tip, but then I watched woman after woman in my office bathroom use 3 or 4 paper towels each time they washed their hands, and it made me want to scream. Did you know that shaking your hands off before you reach for the paper towels helps them dry faster with one towel? Peeing in the shower in the mornings helps conserve water? Going meatless on Monday can cut down on carbon emissions comparable to not driving your car for a day? Every little bit counts toward eventual zero waste living.
Products from Amazon.com
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So that’s it! All the changes I’ve made in the last six months to be more conscious of my individual impact on our planet. What tips and tricks do you have that I’ve missed? Also, if you’re curious about my next big zero waste living project… it’s composting! So if you have any know-how, leave a comment and let me know your best tips for getting started.