My husband and I are outdoor people. We love to go hiking and camping, and live on the idea that you leave any space you travel better than you found it. It is beyond irritating when we find nature littered with plastic and trash. Nature is our place of relaxation, and to spend our time cleaning up after others is not what we want to be doing, but we find ourselves always packing out extra waste.
I am glad to do whatever I can to help keep our national parks clean, but this year I decided to do more in my personal life. I am implementing new habits to lower the amount of trash I create.
I knew I wanted to live a zero-waste lifestyle, but the idea seemed so large – where or how should I start?
My husband and I attended an environmental movie night where Chasing Coral was showing. This documentary excellently shows the negative effects that global warming is having on our oceans. While it is not directly linked to trash circulating in the ocean, it does remind me that I could be doing more for the cause I care about.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the increasing statistics on climate change. I realized that the simplest place to start was my day to day habits. By changing one small habit at a time, I feel confidant to some day reach my zero-waste goal. Here are some of the steps I took to start my journey:
1: Refuse to use plastic bags.
Instead of accepting the plastic bag at the checkout, are the items few enough that you could carry them yourself to you car/home? If not, consider purchasing or bringing reusable cloth bags with you to stores.
Casey and I keep our reusable bags in our cars, so we won’t forget them at home. The best reusable is the one you actually use!
2) Switch to a reusable water bottle.
Bottled water is a large contributor to plastic waste found in landfills, and even in the ocean! Help the planet (your bank account will thank you too!) by drinking tap water from a reusable bottle.
I keep a reusable bottle at my desk at work, and I keep one in my purse when I go out. This way I never have to purchase a single-use, plastic water bottle.
3) Avoid single-use disposables.
Plastic cutlery, straws, take-out containers, napkins, the list could go on… Society is fast paced and has created single-use items that are meant to be discarded after minutes of use. These items, used daily, add up to the large amount of excess waste we find littered in nature and landfills. Here are some ways to cut back on your usage of single-use items:
Get a stainless steel straw to replace plastic ones, re-usable silverware to replace plastic cutlery, mason jars or stainless steel containers to replace Styrofoam containers for take-out leftovers, and cloth napkins instead of paper ones.
These items can be placed in your purse or a backpack to keep with you. You may get a few stares, and some people may be curious enough to ask you about it. I have had waitresses ask about my reusable straws. Once they find out WHY you are doing it, I have found they are generally enthused at the idea that someone cares enough to do something about the waste and environmental issues.
We can’t solve all the worlds problems overnight. I recently read a quote that has kept me inspired to work toward my goal:
“If you aren’t working to make a difference, then what difference do you make?”
Any of you environmentalists have any suggestions to add to my list? Leave your ideas in the comments below!
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