What does the term “zero-waste” mean to you? Is it a challenge, a lifestyle, a goal? Does it sound approachable, unattainable, or too time-consuming? If this is your first introduction to the concept, the United States Environmental Protection Agency defines “zero-waste” as the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.
So, why is this important? Verisk Maplecroft, a worldwide risk-assessment and consulting firm, reported that, though the US only accounts for 4% of the world’s population, we contribute to 12% of global waste. That means the US generates three times the global average of waste. This is a dire crisis.
Let’s unpack that. Each time we generate waste, we produce emissions that can affect us long-term. And poor waste management only exacerbates the crisis – contributing to climate change and air pollution, and directly affecting many ecosystems and species.
Choosing a zero-waste lifestyle can seem intimidating at first, but the journey begins with an inside glimpse into your daily life. Think about your morning and night routines. How many times do you use plastic cutlery, a single-use makeup wipe, or neglect the recycling bin? Together, let’s go through the day and find opportunities to adopt simple and sustainable habits.
Rise and Shine: The Zero-Waste Way
Let’s start the morning the way that all of us should – with a glass of water. Investing in a reusable water bottle is a true staple to a zero-waste lifestyle. It’ll save you money, reduce waste from plastic water bottles and even inspire you to drink more water. Makeena brand Eco Vessel offers a wide array of insulated tumblers, mugs, and coffee cups to take you from day to night. And with the Makeena app, you’ll earn cashback while you shop.
Is a morning cup of joe part of your morning routine? There’s no need to sacrifice it! Instead of stopping for coffee on your way to work or drinking a pre-packaged brew, try making your own with a French press, Moka pot, or use a pour-over technique with a cotton or stainless steel filter. It’s economical, eco-friendly, and chances are it tastes better than a $6.00 latte.
Time to head to the bathroom. For a sustainable and zero-waste alternative to your current toothpaste, try Tom’s (they’re a Makeena brand) for the first of its kind recyclable toothpaste tube.
Going for a shower? Read this statistic before you do: In the United States alone, 550 million empty shampoo bottles are thrown away each year. Simply swapping your bottle of shampoo with a shampoo bar can go a long way toward saving the environment, reducing waste, all the while achieving that squeaky-clean feel.
Getting dressed? Steam press your clothes to have them feeling soft and wrinkle-free, instead of hitting up the dry cleaners. This way, you’ll prevent chemicals from entering your clothes and the water table. And don’t underestimate the age-old trick of shopping secondhand!
Tackling the Day, but Make it Waste-Free
Got bills to pay? Switch to e-bills for your utility bills, credit card statements, and others. Keep those important items all in one place, and say goodbye to stacks of paper floating around your home.
Is it laundry day? With a few simple adjustments, you can be well on your way to living a waste-free laundry life. First, try using a zero waste stain stick like this one from Meliora to zap away those pesky stains. To save water, energy, money, and time, try washing your clothes in bigger loads with cold water, as it uses less energy than hot water. Get creative with DIY laundry detergent or shop around for a zero-waste alternative. And to complete the cycle (pun intended!), simply hang dry your clothes instead of tossing them into the dryer.
Time to clean your home? Instead of using paper towels, cut up some worn tee shirts to use as rags. Don’t be afraid of making your own all-purpose cleaner, washing soda, and non chlorine bleach for all of your household needs.
Heading to the store? Don’t forget your reusable canvas bag.
Packing lunch? Try using functional bento boxes instead of single-use sandwich bags.
Easy enough, right?
Winding Down, Waste-Free
It’s time to end the day, the zero-waste way. We’ll start with dinner time – and you’re in luck, because the kitchen is one of the easiest places to transform into a waste-free sanctuary.
Swap out paper napkins with linen ones. They’re reusable and perfect for setting the atmosphere to round out the day with a home-cooked meal.
Got leftovers? Don’t reach for the gallon-sized plastic bags. Instead, utilize reusable tupperware or even glass Mason jars for storage. And don’t even think about throwing them out! You can save money, cut back on food waste, and revamp your leftover food with your favorite sauces and spices.
And if you do have waste from cooking dinner, don’t underestimate the power of composting. Did you know that about 50% of typical municipal garbage set out at the curb is compostable? Let’s change that! It’s easy to start composting, so head over to our ultimate composting guide for tips and tricks to put the right foot forward.
Ready to unwind? Luckily, you can keep your favorite parts of your nightly routine; with just a few simple swaps, you can relax and restore, while reducing waste. Single-use makeup wipes are appealing, but 20 million makeup wipes are thrown into the trash each day – and this is a simple fix. Check out these reusable cotton rounds that serve the same purpose, but, this time, you’ll feel great about your choice.
Who doesn’t love to melt the day away with a warm cup of tea and essential oils? Head over to this blog by Low Impact Love to learn some inventive and nifty ways to buy and brew waste-free tea. Give Package Free a look for eco-friendly, organic essential oils. With a wide assortment of scents like cedarwood to rosemary to lavender, you can practice self-care, while caring for the environment.
Start your Zero-Waste Lifestyle Today!
The benefits of adopting zero-waste habits are remarkable. With a few simple changes, you can reap the benefits of living waste-free and enjoy improved wellbeing, fewer toxic chemicals in your home, reduced unnecessary spending, and enhanced mental health. The waste-free lifestyle promotes care – for yourself, your family members, and the environment. In addition, choosing to live the zero-waste life creates ten times more jobs, so you’re playing a part in supporting local economies.
WAnd if you’re still unsure of where to start, you can download the Makeena app to connect you to more brands that care about your wellbeing and are reducing waste along the way. Together, we can reduce our footprints, all the while making a bigger mark on the world – and it starts with you.