Going Zero-Waste: An Attempt at Living Responsibly

Part of my journey for 2020 is seeing myself become a more ethical consumer and better citizen of planet Earth. I have already been a minimalist for about 3 years, and now I think that with the current spotlight on climate change and the amount of plastic in our oceans, I can finally say that I’m ready to take the next steps to become a Zero Waster.

You may have heard of the term “zero waste” before, but perhaps you weren’t completely sure of what it meant. The Zero Waste International Alliance gives this definition:

Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste International Alliance

So what exactly does that mean?

Well, like minimalism, zero waste has a plethora of interpretations and practices. It can be repurposing of materials like glass jars for other uses instead of sending them to landfill. It can be buying food in bulk with minimal plastic. It can be buying products with biodegradable or compostable packaging, or even no packaging at all. It can be buying everything second-hand. It can be making changes to reusable items instead of their one-use, disposable counterparts. It can mean making your own products or using all natural alternatives. For some, it means going vegan. The list goes on.

For many zero-wasters, it is a combination of all these things. There are even people on Instagram and YouTube that can show you all of the waste that they have created in a single year that fits inside a single mason jar.

Now, I am not preparing to become this kind of person all at once. Zero waste is multi-step process, and a very long and arduous one at that. I have already begun my journey with the challenge of buying all my clothing second-hand. I know that over the course of the year, and even this decade, there are going to be a lot of swtiches and new products that I will have to find.

But to start this journey, it is important that I use up what I already have, whether or not it is zero-waste, in order to prevent more waste being created. That means using up my current products, and replacing them with the zero-waste alternative when needed. I’m already scoping out a lot of new alternatives.

Right now I am taking a lot of inspiration from zero wasters like Shelbizleee and Gittemary Johansen, which you should totally check out if you want to know more about the movement and little swaps that you can make to help out before making a full on commitment. They also have blogs with articles and DIY recipes for products, etc. (Shelbizleee’s Blog & Gittemary’s Blog) They are real inspiring people who are very passionate about the movement and I implore you to give them a look since they know a lot more than I do.

For now, these are a few of the switches that I have made:

1 – Thrifting all my clothing

You can my read my article about this change here.

2 – Shampoo Bars

Right now I have switched from liquid shampoo to a shampoo bar. These have been made famous by LUSH and are much more concentrated so they last you way longer. I am currently using a bar by J.R. Liggett’s but am looking at another brand called Ethique for when I am done with my current bar. If you want to learn more about zero waste shampoo, Shelbizleee has a great article here where she goes over all the different options and what could work best for you.

3 – Safety Razor

Safety Razors look kind of scary. They are much sharper than a normal disposable razor, blades are cheaper, and they can last you your whole life if you don’t lose them. A company called Leaf Shave has created an all new safety razor with a flexible head. They are very pricey but are supposed to last you your whole life, with blade refills costing you cents versus dollars. You can get a back of 50 razor refills for $14, which makes each blade 28 cents.

4 – Utilizing Recycling

The last change I’ve been making is utilizing recycling at my college. I now have two trash cans set up in my room, one for recycling, and another for everything else that cannot.

I feel like these changes are very small but are also making a bigger impact in my life and I hope to update you in my journey as I continue to make zero waste swaps and find new ways of doing things that used to be wasteful.

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