Lifestyle Advice | Kim Bischof
If you found yourself interested in reducing your waste via Zero Waste influences like Lauren Singer or Levi Hildebrand, you’re not alone. Influences are a huge part of the reason I find myself writing blog post on waste production in my spare time. Social media has played a pivotal role in normalizing and promoting the zero-waste lifestyle. How could anyone scroll past those perfectly organized class food storage containers or sleek and modern all bamboo kitchen sets, without feeling an impulse to discard of every inch of plastic in your home? But wait, landfilling plastic? Isn’t that the exact opposite of zero waste? When it comes to zero waste, wanting to look like your favorite influencers is not nearly as productive as learning the reasons why they live a certain lifestyle and finding ways to incorporate those values into your own life, in a way that works for you.
Just because something is a social media trend with a green sounding hashtag, does not mean that it’s good for the environment.
Here are a few “non-Instagramable” moments that you should definitely be Instagraming (or at least feeling proud of!)
- The oldest, most beat up water bottle you own and love. The first step in many people’s zero waste journey is to find that one perfect water bottle to replace all plastic water bottles. Now, for your favorite Instagramers, this is usually a beautiful, high end container that may or may not be sponsoring them. If you don’t have a reusable mug that works well for you, by all means you should invest in one that you love and will be excited to use every day. However, if your favorite reusable is showing its age, you should absolutely be showing off how long it’s lasted you. Not only should we be normalizing using items for their entire usable life, we should be bragging about it! This handy coffee mug has been my go-to reusable for nearly five years and you better believe I’m proud of it!
- Usable Plastic items. Having a household devoid of any and all plastic may be a minimalist dream, but I’m willing to bet you have to trash a ton of usable plastic items to get that Scandinavian chic look. The mere existence of plastic is not as big of an issue as our dependence on and irresponsible disposal of it. If that three-draw plastic storage container from college is still functional for you – keep using it. It’s not recyclable and your local secondhand store probably has plenty. If you really hate it, list it for free on Facebook Marketplace or a similar app and allow that item to find a new home that isn’t the landfill.
- To-be recycled or donated piles. How you discard of unwanted items is just as important as what new items you choose to purchase. When cleaning your house, it is so tempting to just send all unwanted items to the landfill. Having separate piles for things you want to donate, verse things you want to give away, verses things that need specialty recycling can feel overwhelming. I highly recommend having an area in your house where you keep items you want to discard, organized by where these items need to be taken. This way, when you know you’ll be swinging the electronics recycling facility to drop off your old TV, you can more easily remember to grab that box of dead batteries and outdated charging cords, as well. For example, my last order Package Free (a store that specializes in zero waste products) came in an adorable box that reads “I’m Not Trash” across the front. I repurposed it as a place to hold of of my to-be-recycled electronics.
- Products from small businesses. I know. It can be hard to feel like a real earth hero if you don’t have that classic Patagonia jacket. Don’t get me wrong, Patagonia is a great company and an industry leader in sustainability but does that mean you’re obligated to wear their products. No. Even Patagonia encourages customers to consider repairing their old clothing or buying secondhand before purchasing from them. Buying a product from a local company is just as sustainable (and often times more sustainable) than buying a product form a large corporation just because they’re B Certified.
Here at Race to Waste, we want to see ALL the ways your are reducing waste in your everyday life. Be sure to post about your efforts with the hashtag: zerowasteactionmonth. Two randomly selected participates will win a really cool (reusable!) prize.