You've probably been hearing a lot about zero waste living lately. The term is everywhere these days getting much needed recognition. Plastic waste is an international emergency and there's a small but oh so loud movement making shit happen to clean up the mess we've made.
If you're new to the movement a quick Google search on zero waste can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many products available to live a zero waste lifestyle and it seems like a big investment. It doesn't have to be a big investment at all. In fact you can start right now without spending a dime! I began living a minimal waste life over a year ago and have barely bought any zero waste products on my journey. Here are my favorite ways to minimize waste with little to no costs.
BYOB. Chances are you have more than a few tote bags lying around your house. You don't need a fancy reusable bag for the market. When I started my zero waste journey I rounded up random tote bags from around the house for my weekly shopping trips. Eventually I invested in a few reusable bags that are more spacious and comfortable to carry/ load. The important thing is to just get into the habbit with any ole bags you've got on hand. Keep them in your car or hang them on a hook by your front door. JUST STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS FROM THE STORES.
Produce/ Bulk Bags. You don't absolutely have to purchase reusable produce and bulk bags. Yes, they are incredible but you don't have to have them to start your new lifestyle. Wholefoods has wonderful brown paper produce bags instead of plastic. I reuse these for produce until they fall apart, and then they can be composted. Another alternative is to repurpose old pillowcases into sacks. These are handy for bulk items and produce. Clean out jelly, pickle, and salsa jars for your messier bulk items like flour and sugar. Just be sure you have the weight of each jar written down so you're not paying extra for your bulk items.
Water may be life, but all those plastic bottles are extremely wasteful and contain harmful toxins to your body. You'll save money and the planet by using a water refill service. Most grocery stores have this service available. I will say this is one area where you'll need to invest initially. I keep a refillable two gallon jug with a spout at home and carry two gallon size jugs with me to the store for refills. Refilling water where I live costs .49 per gallon for filtered and .99 for alkaline water. You'll be saving in the long run!
Remember those jars your going to clean that we just talk about? Fill 3/4 of a jar with white vinegar and orange peels. Once you've filled the jar full of peels you have one powerful zero waste cleaner! To clean with it use one part water and one part orange vinegar (minus the peels) in a spray bottle. It's a fabulous surface cleaner for sinks, cabinets and countertops. For showers and toilets use a little baking soda with the vinegar cleaners.
You guessed it... more repurposed jars! You can freeze food, store leftovers and make lunches for work in these glorious little buddies. Seriously, you don't need to buy wax wraps and new storage containers when transitioning to zero waste. Of course down the road you might like to buy a few but they are not a necessity right away.
To take the place of paper towels I use old hand rags or cotton clothing that's too worn to donate. You can cut up old dresses, shirts and leggings to wipe up messes.
I can't stress enough how important multipurpose products are on your minimal waste journey. Replace hand soap with a bar soap that can also act as a shampoo. Side note: do research to make sure it's can actually be used as shampoo. Or a bar of hand soap that can also be used as a facial cleanser. Fun fact: Dr. Bronners bar soap can be used as hand soap, shampoo & facial cleanser. My husband and I actually use this one for all three.
Choose an oil that can be used as makeup remover, moisturizer and hair oil. My favorites are Nucifera Balm and rosehip seed. I would consider investing in a facial exfoliating rag at some point. Yes, it is an expense but you can find some pretty inexpensive options online. In the meantime, coffee and coconut oil work like a charm.
Your journey to zero waste shouldn't be about consumption. It's very tempting to buy those new beautiful minimalist products to enhance the start of living with less waste. The most important thing on your journey is to simply start right now. Start today with what you have and slowly evolve and expand your zero waste habits.