5 SIMPLE WAYS TO REDUCE WASTE
This was by far the easiest step for me. I do have to admit though that I already had reusable bags that I carried in my purse most of the time. But I was inconsistent and was only conscious about my decisions when it seemed convenient for me.
Plastic bags are so easy to swap out for reusable bags. You can use canvas bags, cotton bags, or even a basket with a handle at the Farmer’s Market (like they did in the 1800s, I mean why not?!). Not only will you look darling carrying all your fresh produce and flowers in a basket, but then you can just set it on your table when you get home for decoration and ease of access. The canvas and cotton bags are easy for on the go and fold up easily to carry in a purse or backpack.
Plastic water bottles are engrained in our society now for their convenience but are such a big waste. The amount of water required to make a plastic water bottle is more than the amount of water that can fit inside the plastic bottle. Does this even make sense?
Carry a reusable metal, glass or even BPA free plastic water bottle (if you already have one, no need to buy new). Seriously people hand them out for free in so many places. You may not even need to spend money on one. I have two water bottles. A 20oz and a 32oz Hydroflask water bottle. I love these bottles, because they are double insulated metal bottles that keep my water cold for the entire day. The 20oz bottle is perfect to slide into my purse when I am on the go, and the 32oz bottle is perfect for longer trips like hiking or on road trips. Stay hydrated without plastic!
Honestly, I never gave this much thought before I began researching zero waste, but how easy is this one? Refuse plastic straws at restaurants and cafes. Those little plastic straws in our drinks end up in the landfill and take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Just say “no straw please” (with a big cheesy smile). I have received a few questionable looks regarding this request, but maybe the more restaurants hear this request, the less straws they will purchase.
There are metal straws, bamboo straws and even silicone straws for all your coffee drinking needs! I have some metal straws at home that are bent at the top like a bendy plastic straw would look. I am also interested in investing in some bamboo straws in the future. But seriously, there are so many options available that there is no need for single use plastic straws anymore.
I did not realize how much plastic cutlery I went through until I became more conscious about it. I have never bought any plastic cutlery for myself, but at my work, I realized I was using so much plastic each day! A plastic spoon in the morning to stir my coffee then tossing it, a plastic fork, spoon, and/or knife at lunch then tossing it, and plastic cutlery for any other little snacks I consumed throughout the day then tossing it. I alone was using multiple pieces of plastic cutlery each day for a single use, then tossing it.
Easy fix! I brought a metal fork, spoon and knife to work from home. I leave it in my locker and use the same cutlery each day for every meal or snack, then wash it afterwards to be ready for the next use. Simple as that!
TO-GO COFFEE CUPS
I have to admit that I drink coffee almost everyday. However, I rarely spend money on specialty drinks in coffee shops. This was initially not motivated by living more environmentally conscious but rather by finances.
So, when I do go to a coffee shop now, I just bring my own travel mug. Yep! BYOC (Bring your own cup!) I have a 12oz travel coffee cup with a lid that is perfect for coffee to-go. I ask beforehand if it will be okay if they use my mug instead of the Styrofoam cups and most places are happy to do so!
And when I plan on staying awhile in the coffee shop, I just bring a ceramic mug from my cabinet! Some coffee shops offer ceramic mugs when “dining in”, but there are some that do not have any non-disposable mugs. So, I bring one with me just in case!