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Outdoor Cat | A Zero Waste Starter Guide

Zero waste is very trendy right now, and for great reason. A zero waste lifestyle is exactly what it sounds like – you're not wasting anything. But it can get really complicated really quickly. While approaching zero waste can seem overwhelming, it's important to remember that any small step helps. You don't have to take on the entire world, but you can start with our everyday habits.  



WHAT IS ZERO WASTE?

I'm not one to rely on Wikipedia, but I really love their definition of zero waste. They define it as “a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. No trash is sent to landfills or incinerators.” (Source). That last part is really important, because one of the main goals of zero waste is to not create trash; instead either using reusable containers or compostable packaging.

You're probably thinking that this sounds impossible and crazy, but like I said earlier, it's all about baby steps.

WHY GO ZERO WASTE?

Why should you embark on a quest to stop producing trash? The most important reason is to help the environment. By eliminating waste, you’re reducing the need for resources to create the materials, the need to recycle or store them in a landfill, and you’re reducing their long term impact on the environment. Impacts like contributing to water and air pollution, and contributing to the formation of greenhouse gases and climate change.

Adopting a zero waste lifestyle can also save you money. When you bring your own cup to coffee shops they’ll often give you a discount. It may only be ten cents, but that ten cents adds up. Bringing a reusable shopping bag to the grocery store saves you the extra costs for plastic bags. Shopping in bulk is often cheaper than buying packaged products.

A zero waste lifestyle can also shift your spending habits. You might start shopping at thrift stores. You’ll use products longer and repair them instead of throwing them away. You’ll notice that you don’t need to shop as often as you used to because you’ll realize you don’t need to indulge in every new clothing or home trend, and you won’t need every kitchen gadget on the market.

A zero waste lifestyle is simply better for the environment and it’s better for your wallet.

HOW TO REDUCE WASTE IN THE KITCHEN

Reducing waste in the kitchen can help eliminate a lot of trash. Start small and do what you can.

For starters, get yourself a compost bin and start composting your fruit and vegetables scraps. You can even compost loose leaf tea, coffee grounds, and paper. This was key in eliminating my kitchen waste.

I also recommend looking at what you and your family eat. Find ways to avoid food waste by buying only what you need and freezing leftovers.  

When it comes to grocery shopping, get yourself some reusable bags! Their uses are endless and they're always handy to have around. If you can, finding a local farmer's market can really help eliminate the plastic produce bags, produce stickers, and other packaging. If not, get yourself some reusable produce bags. It's a simple switch that will save so much extra plastic packaging.

Another really big tip is to get into bulk food shopping. If you can, try to find one that allows you to bring your own jars and cloth bags. They'll weigh and mark the jars for you so you won't be charged for their weight. If you don't have that luxury, remember that buying anything in bulk saves packaging. You can also look for recyclable or reusable packaging, like glass jars instead of plastic ones.

Last but not least, think twice when it comes to buying kitchen appliances. You might not need that new gadget, and if you do, there's a chance you could find it second hand in a thrift shop. If not, look for gadgets made with materials like wood, metal, and glass, instead of plastic. They'll last longer and they won't contribute to as much landfill waste.

HOW TO REDUCE WASTE IN OUR PERSONAL CARE ROUTINES 

This is an area I'm still working on myself. Nobody wants to stop using their precious skincare products simply because of the packaging. But there are ways to look for sustainable and even zero waste solutions.

You can start by looking for products that are made ethically and sustainably. Look for fair trade labels, and ask where ingredients are sourced.

There are some simple zero waste swaps you can make right away. Swap your plastic bottles of shampoo and soap for bars, get yourself a bamboo toothbrush, and look into products made with compostable packaging, like our Baking Soda Free Deodorant Stick.  

Take a look at the packaging of products before you purchase them. When possible, go for glass and metal packaging that you can reuse or even return. If not, the glass is still better for the environment than plastic.

If you're lucky, you can also look into buying zero waste personal care products at farmers markets and craft fairs. You can also ask local makers if they'll allow you to return their packaging. While it's not environmentally friendly to ship packaging back and forth, if they're local, it's an easy zero waste fix.

ZERO WASTE HAVEN: THE PACKAGE FREE SHOP IN NEW YORK

There are a few cities that are lucky enough to have package free shops that carry personal care products and more.

We're proud to be a part of the Package Free Shop in Brooklyn. One of the very few package free shops in the world, they carry all kinds of zero waste goodies. You can purchase refills of our cream deodorants, toner, face oil, body oil, and soap. You can even make your own salt scrub!  It's a truly unique store that's working to revolutionize how we shop. If we had one of these in every city, think about all of the packaging we could save!

For more resources and information, please check out Trash is For Tossers and Zero Waste Daniel, co-founders of the Package Free Shop and zero waste bloggers.

Sarah Price is a green beauty and self care writer with an obsession with holistic skincare. She writes about natural beauty, DIY recipes, self care tips, and more on her self titled blog.