“What’s the one zero waste thing you’ve done that’s made the biggest difference?”
I follow a zero waste board on Facebook, and this very question popped up at the beginning of December. It was interesting to ponder — what IS the one thing I’ve done that’s made the biggest difference? — and equally interesting to read everyone’s answers.
And this seems like a good time to pose the question here as well as transcribe the answers written on the board. Because … I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing like the excess of Christmas (even if you’re a minimalist and do up the holiday very minimally) that makes you want to take a breath and embrace something a little … less.
For the record, the first thing that came to my mind was “reusable lunch containers.” Maybe because that is one of the very first steps I took, and continue to embrace. We haven’t used plastic baggies in a couple of years, and that’s pretty awesome. I’m also excited that (most of) the food we put into those lunch containers is unpackaged. I do feel like that’s made a big difference, especially since the entire Walker Four is on board.
What about you? How would you answer this question?
And for those wondering where to start, here are more than a few ideas to consider. Actually, this is a great list even if you have started. As I read through the answers, it really made me think about what I do and how I could step up my game. It’s also pretty awesome that there are so many different ways to go about this:
- Composting (lots of people listed this, actually)
- Cloth diapering
- Taking reusable bags to the store
- Taking a water bottle and/or thermos everywhere
- Using cloth produce bags
- Bringing your own tupperware and silverware when going out (for takeout, leftovers, and avoiding plastic utensils)
- Buying items from the bulk bins
- Buying food without any packaging
- DIY baby wipes / hand wipes
- Buying as little as possible — no unplanned shopping
- Reusable menstrual products
- Using rags and towels instead of paper products
- Riding a bike to work
- Walking everywhere
- Using grey water to water plants in the yard
- Place a bucket in the shower; use water to flush the toilet
- Sew worn clothing into new clothing or items
- Menu planning
- Batch cooking
- Reusable sandwich bags
- Refusing all disposables
- Line drying clothing
- Not using dryer sheets
- Reusing shower water to presoak clothing (that whole bucket thing again)
- Buying food in season
- Giving up plastic bags
- Buying ingredients vs. prepared, packaged items
- Using jars
- Finding a zero waste buddy (to encourage each other)
- Shop primarily at thrift stores
- Avoid takeout
- DIY yogurt
- Buying milk in glass jars
- Using a reusable coffee filter
- Waste no scrap of food
- See what’s in the trash can, then find alternatives to those items
- Collect and reuse scrap paper
- Cook from scratch
- Be wary of palm products (oils, etc. HERE is why)
- Feed food scraps to animals
- Reusable lunch containers!
To be honest, some of these seem a little extreme to me, but hey, it’s all about stretching our minds and thinking outside the box, right? And it’s so great to see how fervent other people are about working to reduce their impact on this planet. I don’t feel isolated in my efforts by any means, but I do forget that so many of us are working towards the same goal. And that, my friends, is amazing.
Next up: End of the year pondering.