When you think of zero-waste products, it can seem unrealistic, even unattainable. Those thoughts are completely legitimate. Zero-waste is not realistic. The way the world handles manufacturing does not allow for a zero waste system to exist, at least not yet. Just because we cannot reach zero waste is no reason to take no action. Not all actions have to be big to make a big impact.
Bea Johnson wrote a detailed book about her personal journey with her family of reducing waste in their home. The book, Zero Waste Home, reminds us the journey to less waste is not perfect. Changing course will always be necessary. We do not all have the same access to resources to make the switch easy. Not everyone lives near a refill store, compost facility or winery that will refill wine bottles. The decisions and choices leading to reducing waste must be sustainable and not for others, only you. Sometimes your choices will not work for other members of your household and that’s ok. Each person is at different points of life’s journey. It’s important to just keep doing what YOU can do. Will it be frustrating? It sure will! But the small changes you make will lead to two powerful outcomes:
- Reduce waste in the world
- Allow you to be an example for others.
Leading by example is the best way to encourage change.
Zero waste products come in all forms. The range is from reusable coffee cups to making your own toothpaste or body lotion. Take a look around your home first and see what items you use the most that come packaged in disposable packaging. The bathroom is an easy place to start. The kitchen seems the logical choice, but food packaging is the biggest struggle for most people, even seasoned zero-wasters.
Simple, effective switches can be as easy as buying bar soap instead of a bottle of body wash. Replace your shower hair care products with a shampoo and conditioner bar. When the time comes to replace your toothbrush, skip the plastic one and buy one made from bamboo. Bamboo toothbrushes can have second or third lives before hitting the composter. Use it as a garden/seed marker, let kids use it as a paint brush, keep it with your outdoor/sport shoes to scrape out the dirt. At the end of its life, compost it or burn it in your fireplace, just remove the bristles before burning, some bristles are made from nylon.
The next purchase you make, look for a plastic-free, package-free or reusable option. You might be surprised how many affordable products are out there that meet that need. Making one switch will naturally lead you to the next switch. The only regret you will have is that you did not start using zero waste products sooner.
There is not one solution or zero waste product that is right for every single person. How we live life is very individualized. If you have questions about how to start reducing waste in your home or business, contact our founder, Angie Ringler, she will happily take time to speak with you and share what she has learned on her journey towards zero waste. That chat might encourage you to start your own journey, even getting to avoid some of the bumps in the road that she hit.