7 Simple Ways To Live Waste-Free

Have you ever heard something that causes you to re-think, virtually everything? Well, that happened over the weekend as I was listening to a podcast with Lauren Singer, the awe-inspiring mega babe living a totally trash-free, waste-free lifestyle in the heart of New York City.

She fit two years worth of trash into one mason jar.

ONE MASON JAR*.

I produce more trash than that by 10am…

So, in an effort to do better, reduce my carbon footprint, and not actively contribute to the gargantuan landfills overtaking our planet, I’m taking Lauren’s advice, channeling my inner minimalist, and going (almost) totally trash-free.

THE CHANGES:

1. Replace paper towels & napkins with reusable organic cotton cloths.

In a former life, I used paper towels like they were going out of style. No more. I recently replaced my paper towel trail with organic cotton cloths from Target. Per Lauren’s suggestion, I also started carrying a reusable organic hemp kerchief you know, just in case I spill while I’m out.

Pic via Lauren's IG @trashisfortossers

Pic via Lauren's IG @trashisfortossers

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2. Say NO to plastic straws.

Americans use an estimated 500 million straws a day. Not only is that absolutely absurd, it’s also detrimental to marine life. ← Click that. Warning: It’s graphic. Although I’ve never been a big straw person (are there straw people?), I now make it a point to kindly ask that bevys come sans straws and purchased a few of these glass ones to use at home and stash in my bag**.

3. Keep a refillable water bottle with me at all times (and use it).

This *should* be a no brainer by now (it’s 2017), but there’s always room for improvement. I’ve found that getting myself a reusable water bottle that I LOVE (color, size, cap type, material, ability to fit in standard size cup holders, etc.) makes this easier. Since purchasing a Hydro Flask (Hydro Flasks – I bought 3), I haven’t use any plastic bottles or cups, or; shattered any mason jars. Good for the environment, good for my body, and good for my wallet.

4. Ban all disposables, single-use products, and items with a limited life span from my daily routine. Think: Q-tips, cotton balls, cotton squares, tissues, tampons, etc.

While I haven’t completely removed all single-use products from my existence (yet) — I’m still OCD about cleaning my ears after I shower — I have replaced most disposables with more sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives.

For example, instead of bleach soaked, GMO grown, traditional cotton Q-tips (which, up until writing this, never occurred to me that Q-tips are, in fact, made from GMO grown, bleach soaked cotton...), I stocked up on Swisspers Organic Cotton Swabs On Wood Sticks; only buy tubeless toilet paper without the superfluous cardboard center, completely revamped my makeup removal routine (no cotton balls here! Just coconut oil and washcloths); and per my best friend’s Menstrual Survival Guide, invested in a diva cup.

5. Strategic composting.

Probably because I have zero clue what I’m doing — and have yet to find a good YouTube tutorial — composting (still) seems incredibly daunting. Despite my apprehension, I’m determined to be less wasteful in the kitchen so I’ve started a small compost bin and began freezing leftover veggie scraps to make broth.

6. Embrace all things DIY.

Including toothpaste, deodorant, dry shampoo, detergent, cleaning supplies, etc. I’m *currently* working on this one but have since perfected DIY facemasks and deodorant. (Dry shampoo is next!)

7. Utilize refill options and buy in bulk whenever possible.

Although I’ve yet to do either on any significant scale, Lauren noted in the episode that many natural food stores and co-ops offer liquid refills on things like soaps and household cleaners. Next time I visit my local grocer, I’m making it a point to ask.

Will I fit this year’s trash pile into a mason jar? Probably not. But, I’m OK with that.

As Lauren mentioned, small eco-conscious action steps make a big difference.

How can you practice a more waste-free lifestyle? Share with us by leaving a comment below. You never know who you could inspire.

For more about Lauren, visit her at her super rad site, Trash Is For Tossers.

Like this post? You’ll like this, too: How to throw an eco-friendly party all your guests will enjoy.

*It was a pint size mason jar (16 oz), in case you’re wondering.

*You’re probably concerned about the glass shattering. This kind is surprisingly durable. I’ve only broken one. If glass is too risque, opt for stainless steel instead.

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