Simplify Zero Waste
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Zero Waste and Broke: How to Start for Free

Okay guys, let's get one thing straight:

Zero waste is not about spending money !!!

Some people have the idea that you must buy a bunch of new things to start living a zero waste lifestyle. They go out and buy containers, unpackaged soaps, reusable water bottles, etc. Tons of new products that can add up $$$! You do not need to buy a ton of new products to start working towards zero waste! In fact, living more a more conscious lifestyle can help you save money.

Here's how to start:

 

1. Refuse

1. Start by REFUSING products that you don't need that lead to waste. For example, do you find yourself buying unnecessary packaged foods? Instead of reaching for that bag of chips, grab a piece of fruit instead. Take the extra time in your day to make yourself a wholesome meal from scratch rather than grabbing something to go from the store. As a rule of thumb, try consuming only unproccessed, unpackaged, natural foods; they will likely be better for you anyways, and they tend to cost far less. In general, refuse products that lead to waste; you'll probably end up saving money.

 Fruits come in their own packaging! There is no need to produce waste when eating a healthy diet.

Fruits come in their own packaging! There is no need to produce waste when eating a healthy diet.

2. Reduce

Next, try REDUCING your overall consumption. Before making a purchase, think "do I really need this? Will this be useful to me a week, a month, a year from now? Can I borrow this from friends or family instead of having my own?" Have a rule where you give yourself a certain amount of time to consider the purchase before going for it. For example, if there's a shirt you like, tell yourself that you will come back for it if it's still on your mind in a week. This avoids irrational spending and reduces your waste because you're more likely really love and need your purchases.

 Mismatched, leftover containers are perfect items to reuse to avoid waste. This plastic container was sold with chocolate, and is now used to purchase bulk oats. The glass jar has been in my family for years, and now holds bulk mixed nuts.

Mismatched, leftover containers are perfect items to reuse to avoid waste. This plastic container was sold with chocolate, and is now used to purchase bulk oats. The glass jar has been in my family for years, and now holds bulk mixed nuts.

3. Reuse

What do you already have that you can REUSE rather than buying new? Maybe you want to reduce your consumption of single-use plastic water bottles. Instead of going out and spending $20+ on a reusable water bottle (although I do love my Hydroflask, highly recommend) look around to see what you already have. I used a pasta sauce jar that I had washed out for a year before someone gifted me my reusable bottle. It worked super well and was easy to clean! Maybe you want to start using reusable produce bags rather than the plastic ones at the grocery store. Make some out of an old t-shirt, or simply refuse to use any produce bags. Think outside the box; chances are you probably already have everything that you need!

 

4. Recycle

Make sure that you are RECYCLING whatever you can instead of throwing it into the landfill. Take the extra time to quickly search on your phone "is this recyclable?" instead of throwing it into the trash by default. Educating yourself about what can be recycled can make a huge impact even though it barely takes up any of your time. Have a special spot where you keep products that need to be recycled in a specific way.

5. Rot

Anything that is left, throw into the compost to ROT instead of pollute! If you're county does not yet have a composting service, (first of all fight for one) find a local farmer or neighbor who composts, or if you have the space, start your own composting pile.

6. Mistakes

Allow yourself to MAKE MISTAKES. No one is perfect, and no one can completely change their lifestyle in one day. Allow yourself to become aware of where you can make improvements, and give yourself time to make those adjustments. Don't be so hard on yourself; by simply trying to make less waste you are doing something great for the environment.

Make going zero waste your new years resolution and start now!