What has uplifted me most during this unprecedented time is seeing reports on how Mother Earth is seeing some healing while we humans take a break from normal life.
“Nitrogen dioxide over China has dropped with the coronavirus quarantine, Chinese New Year, and a related economic slowdown.”
“In Venice, the often murky canals recently began to get clearer, with fish visible in the water below. Italy’s efforts to limit the coronavirus meant an absence of boat traffic on the city’s famous waterways.”
“In San Francisco, the average concentration of fine particulate matter over the past five days was almost 40 percent lower than the previous year.”
To further the impact of this restorative time for our earth, what if we took advantage of life’s slower pace right now to learn some ways we can reduce our waste?
Going zero waste can be intimidating at first–after all, it requires a lot of everyday habitual life changes that can be daunting until you try it for yourself + see how easy these simple changes are! So I thought if we shared our top five tips we’ve learned since going zero waste a year + a half ago, it would make this process a bit more accessible.
1) Bring Your Own Containers When Grocery Shopping
*Currently grocery stores aren’t allowing personal containers or bags, but it’s the perfect time to start accumulating jars to utilize this method once the world goes back to normal.
These mason jars will become your best friend in this most important step of going zero waste. Think about it–the most packaging we consume is usually from grocery shopping. What if you could replace all of these single-use items you buy weekly with a few glass jars that you never dispose of? When we made this transition, we had to start taking the trash out as little as once a month from all the use we made out of these! These 32oz jars are great to start with, as well as the 16oz size listed below, but over time, start purchasing things that come in a glass jar already so you can simply remove the label + use it for more goodies in the future.
Here’s how to utilize your glass jars at the grocery store! Everything you’ll need to fill these bad boys up will be found in the bulk section of your local grocery store.
At the beginning, you’ll need two of these stickers for each jar. First you’ll write the tare weight (weight of the empty jar) on one sticker. This will allow the cashier to take off the weight from the jar so you’re only paying for what you add to the jar. You can use the scales in the bulk section to weigh the jars.
The second sticker will be for the PLU number of what you’re putting in the jar.
Once you get into the groove of things, you can remove those stickers + use the info the make cute little labels with this label maker for things you know you’ll be filling up on whenever you run out (olive oil, vinegar, honey, oatmeal, rice, etc). There are some things I don’t use the label maker for because I’m always switching up what I’m buying. But it’s nice to have those staple items that you can just chuck the empty jar in your grocery bag when you’re about to make a run + everything is already labeled so you just need to fill up the jar + pay for it! Even easier than finding each package you need at the grocery store if you ask me.
These funnels come in handy at the grocery store because sometimes the spouts of certain bulk items are larger than your jar.
I’m sure you already have a few reusable grocery bags but if you don’t, these ones are super cute! And you can never have enough 😉
A huge way to cut back on single-use waste is bringing your own produce bags! It’s easiest when checking out to have a different bag for each produce item you buy, so having a variety with different sizes is super helpful.
I also love these hemp produce bags + stretchy mesh bags!
2) Replace Single-Use Household Items with These Products
Once you realize how easy it is to whip up your own fresh nut milk blends, you’ll never have to overpay for those plastic containers filled with all kinds of weird thickeners + preservatives again. Fresh nut milk tastes SO much better! Just soak 1/4 cup of whatever blend of nuts you prefer in some warm water for a couple hours, blend with 1 1/2 cups of water, and strain into a milk jug by pouring the milk through this nut milk bag. Then use the dried nut pulp for granola or gluten-free flour!
Replace aluminum foil with these easy little silicone baking sheets that are nonstick + make cleaning after baking a breeze.
Forget plastic ziplock baggies–just throw whatever snacks you need on the go in these cute reusable pouches!
One of the ways we’ve turned our food waste to almost nothing is by FOOD PREPPING. Not only does our nation throw away 40% of the food we buy, but when food goes into the landfill, it releases large amounts of methane gas, so it’s important to utilize every piece of food we buy. I just plan out what I’m going to make each night of the week + buy only those foods, plus a few lunch + snack items. Then once I’m home from the grocery store, I immediately wash + chop everything I’ll need to cook later in the week so it’s ready to go, and store them in these glass tupper wares in the fridge.
A natural alternative to plastic wrap, these beeswax wraps are protective, breathable, antimicrobial, and plastic free, seal your food without harmful toxins, and keep food fresher longer by slowing down the decomposition rate of stored food.
Having a few beautiful cloth napkins in the kitchen allows us to use these at dinner every night instead of single-use napkins, then we just throw them in with the laundry weekly to keep them fresh.
Soften your clothes without the harmful + toxic chemicals found in fabric softeners + dryer sheets. Also a fun perk–wool dryer balls speed up drying time by 20%-40%!
Alrighty folks–here are all the different alternatives for your single-use daily coffee items. K-cups, drip, and pour overs can be made zero waste with these reusable products.
3) Make These Simple Bathroom Swaps
Think about how many toothpaste + mouthwash packages each individual person can rack up in a year. I love these tablets not only because because they come in glass jars, but they’ll send you refills in compostable packaging whenever you run out.
I use this tongue scraper nightly to remove all the bacteria from my tongue, and it’s really effective to freshen up your whole mouth before bed. Copper naturally kills bacteria on contact without any hard chemicals or sanitizers.
These microfiber makeup remover pads are so CLUTCH! The black side is also genius for removing eye makeup. Fourteen of these pads are equivalent to thousands of single use makeup wipes, pads, or cotton balls. Expensive makeup remover isn’t necessary either, just wet + wipe away! To wash in the laundry, you just place them all in the provided pouch.
I buy soap for the shower in bulk at the market + place it in this soap sock to create a perfect lather. Easily throw the sock in the laundry whenever you need to freshen it up!
Okay–I was super skeptical of this at first. But once I learned of all the harmful herbicides, chemicals, and bleach in tampons, and that any chemicals in a tampon can easily make it to the bloodstream, I didn’t have to think twice about switching to a menstrual cup. You totally get used to using the Diva Cup + you only have to empty it morning + night, which is a huge perk.
We love this biodegradable alternative to a plastic toothbrush, which is made of bamboo (this brand doesn’t splinter!) + activated charcoal bristles that naturally whiten teeth.
4) Create Your Own Cleaning Products With ONE Main Ingredient
This product is AMAZING! I use Sal Suds as a one-stop shop to make literally every cleaning concoction in our home, and it works splendidly. There are all kinds of recipes you can find online (I use this list), but it works great for washing dishes, as an all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, for laundry, stain remover, you name it. It has a gorgeous natural pine scent to it as well that I love.
For my all-purpose cleaner, I simply fill this glass spray bottle up with water + add one teaspoon of Sal Suds + five drops of Tea Tree oil. I fill up the other glass bottle with the same mixture, but add two tablespoons of vinegar for a glass cleaner.
For cleaning inside the tub, sink, and toilet, I spray with the all-purpose cleaner, and then I have an empty salt shaker with baking soda in it that I sprinkle on top + it works perfectly to scrub off all the grime.
I use these natural fiber sponges, made with cotton that have been woven into a unique + effective scrubbing texture. This sponge is durable, yet safe for non-stick surfaces + glassware.
I love this mildew-resistant bamboo dish scrub brush to replace a plastic scrub brush for dishes that are tougher to clean.
5) Don’t Leave The House Without These To-Go Items
How many times have you grabbed a single-use cup at a restaurant to fill up with some water? Store these collapsable cups in your purse for whenever you need a quick sip.
32oz of pure ice cold water to keep you hydrated.
Bring this 20oz glass tumbler along to enjoy those iced coffee drinks on warm days so you can skip the plastic cups.
And this 20oz tumbler for the hot drinks!
These bamboo cutlery with an included pouch can conveniently fit in a purse to join you anywhere for meals out + are easy to wipe down or wash.
Use these straws for sippin’ on the go! They come in two different width sizes depending on what you’re drinking, with little cleaning brushes, and a transportable case.
Or try these glass straws if you need more than one.
Remember to grab one of these stainless steel containers before you go out to eat so you can ditch the single use to-go boxes.
Get prepped for lunch time with these adorable aluminum bento boxes.