Zero Waste at Home: Tips on Where to Begin

Written by Anouk Lauzon Groleau

 

We’ve already been hearing about zero waste nowadays, and I think the trend continues to rise with the confinement order!

Everybody either became an expert or wants to try their hand at the zero waste lifestyle! It’s becoming harder to make sense out of all the available information to figure out where to begin… That’s why I am listing here a few tips to help you understand the trend and the information around it, and maybe even get you to adopt a few daily habits.

IT IS NOT A GOAL TO REACH

First things first, take some weight off your shoulders and quit thinking you have to be perfect, never ever producing or consuming waste-generating products: IT’S IMPOSSIBLE.

Planet earth produces waste, your own body produces waste, so #YouKnow.

When speaking of zero waste, we’re thinking of transforming products in order to give what is usually thrown away a use, necessarily having to end up at the dump.

For example, the leftover parts of fruits and veggies can be composted and used to fertilize new growths. It’s the base principle of the circular economy. If it’s something you’re into, I highly recommend reading on the subject!

It’s also very important to take one’s own situation into consideration: a family of 4 with the kids going to school, and the parents working all week can’t possibly imagine taking out only one garbage bag (or less!) once every two weeks unless they give no importance to mental health… even less chance of that happening if compost is not a thing in the community!

The zero waste philosophy is quite simple: prioritize durable goods and make use of them until impossible to do soto lessen your own ecological impact as much as you can.

Don’t worry, it’s way simpler than it looks!

IS IT REALLY A MONEY SAVER?

Spending all of your money on washable tissues, reusable paper towels, containers for bulk shopping, sustainable clothes, bamboo cutlery, and whatnot…

It’s the best way to get disheartened as fast as your account goes dry. If you take buying specific zero waste products to heart you still can!

However, if you wish to save your wallet from complete emptiness, I will reassure you by telling you that you already have everything you need at home to begin properly. Without any expense.

The ultimate trick is very simple: use what you have! Follow the base principle of zero waste and reuse!

How?

Simple! Here are a few examples!

REUSABLE TISSUES AND “PAPER” TOWELS

You probably have an old T-shirt (or more than one) that you keep in case of painting or renovation jobs, right? Honestly, when was the last time you made good use of it ? ?

Or maybe your boyfriend has a few of those sweaters that have worn out long ago, that agonize every time he wears them, but still do the job according to him… well, time to give these shirts a new chance at being useful!

Cut them into pieces of your liking for tissues that will be washed after use (without any contact for the one doing the laundry!) or for “paper” towels (that you won’t throw away hehe) reusable at will!

REUSABLE TAWASHI SPONGES

You can also make tawashi sponges. It is very simple, and those socks with holes in them or idling without their other half will finally have a second life! (Many easy tutorials are available online!)

BULK CONTAINERS

In need of containers to bulk shop? Take a look into your recycle bin, and see if you can fish out yogurt/sauce pots, etc. or ask around to friends and family if they can keep theirs for you.

CLOTHES

As for sustainable clothes, made out of bamboo, recycled plastic, and other material, it’s true that it’s a great initiative and a nice option. However, their production still calls for new materials and energy consumption for every piece. And, between you and me, it’s quite expensive!

What I propose: thrift shops. Clothes there already exist and are affordable. Moreover, many thrift shops are nonprofit organizations. With the money given back to the community, you kill two birds with one stone.

Yet, nothing keeps you from buying sustainable goods, it’s still better than the mall. A good idea would be to buy classic clothes (a spring coat, for example) and to take good care of elongating their lives. Who knows, you might even end up giving them to your children when they get older.

CUTLERY

Same thing for bamboo cutlery. Yes, it’s trendy and made out of a compostable plant that grows fast, but why not take regular cutlery you have at home and simply carry it around in your purse instead of spending money on the other kind?

In addition to using objects from home, you restrain form encouraging new productions. Yes, they have a better after-use impact than the usual silverware, but they demand new material consumption. Your own are already there, and have already used new materials, so why not use them until the end?

THINK SOLID

Think solid! Solid soap, solid shampoo, for it means one less plastic container, therefore, less waste… Many companies offer them in many different fragrances for every need.

HOMEMADE

Think homemade! Confinement means many got back to heating up the oven. It may finally be the right moment to learn how to bake your own bread or, if you’re not ready to take this step, start by making your own applesauce, for example. Kids can participate and I can guarantee they will be proud of eating the apple sauce they cooked themselves, and it’s 100% healthier than the store-bought crackers or snack bars.

WHERE TO BEGIN?

The simpler it will be for you, the easier it will be to stick to your new habits. I, myself, started by visiting a bulk shop more often with my own containers and by being careful not to bag wrapped fruits and veggies.

Then I bought solid soap for the body and a safety razor. It’s an inox razor which the blade needs to be changed only once in a while instead of throwing away the whole thing.

Washable tissues came next. I wasn’t really convinced in the beginning, because of the quantity required, especially during the flu season. Yet, I ended up adopting them anyway.

The menstrual cup is also an item I allowed into my life and that I wouldn’t do without now!

Look around you: small companies open one by one, offering local handmade products and are closer than you think if you don’t want to bother doing them yourself.

What’s most important is to proceed at your own rhythm, to think reusable before consuming anything, and to have fun doing it. It’s economical, healthier for you and for the plant, and it helps local enterprises.

So, when do you start?

This post was translated from French to English by:

Sophie Dumais
My name is Sophie, a passionate language learner, and a full-time dog mom. Long walks, soothing cups of tea, Japanese learning and the search for beauty are my everyday life. Slowly but surely is how I do things, contemplating the peaceful ways of time and the enchanting notion of living the moment.

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