Going trash-free can seem impossible, but with a few simple steps, it can be as easy as making trash. Here’s how to do it.
More than 100 million marine mammals are killed by plastic pollution per year and 50% of all plastic is single-use. There are so many alternatives to combat pollution everyday and it’s up to us to do it! What do you waste in one day? Keep a note in your phone, or better yet, I dare you to save all of the things you’d normally throw away in just one day! The wrappers, coffee cups, dirty napkins, chip bags, etc… Not only would you feel messy, but it puts into perspective what you are expelling out into our planet. Trash and plastics stay on earth for up to a thousand years!
In an aim to eliminate waste in my life, I’m outlining 5 simple steps below that have helped me through this journey.
Become aware of what you really need and what you are better without. Make piles. If there is a “maybe” or “what if” pile, get it out of there! Ask yourself first if you can donate or sell it. You won’t miss it, I promise. If you got rid of these “no’ and “maybe” piles then all you have left is the “I love this” pile, and that’s what we want our spaces to be filled with. If you use something often but it consists of trash or plastic (lip balms, shampoo, spices etc…), use it up. It’s better to use what we have first and phase out of it.
While you’re taking inventory of all the items in your home, identify where you generate trash and plastics – the makeup containers, kitchen supplies, your bathroom essentials etc… Look at your “get rid of” pile and your trash can. Take note of these items and think of the overall sustainability of the item (its source, material, environmental impact, lifespan and end result). Reflect on how much better you will feel knowing that your entire life will soon be cleansed of things you and the earth are not benefitting from, as well this newfound consciousness in day to day life.
Yay! It’s time to take action! To prepare, it’s helpful to make a quick list of JUST the things you threw away while you were out of the house, and on a general day. What’s the coolest thing about this list? The realization that every single item can be easily replaced by reusable and sustainable products and that we have the power to combat plastic pollution, overflowing landfills, and wasting resources.
Here’s a basic list of items that can start you off. Although buying alternatives are important, there are also some amazing recipes that you can make to replace toothpaste, mouthwash, lotion and more! The biggest thing to remember is that being prepared is the most successful route to being trash free.
This step is the most fulfilling! You start to notice how thankful you start to become every single day. You realize all the moments you would normally waste such as throwing your food away or buying a coffee now becomes so sweet. Presence and beauty renewed in what used to be mundane things. It is the best feeling to know the food scraps you take to the farmers market compost drop off have a new life as a tree. It’s amazing to use up that last plastic toothpaste bottle because you made your own with peppermint and lavender. To buy a coffee and realize it tastes so much better in your own reusable cup.
An important everyday reminder: You will mess up! There will be times that you accidentally go to the market and forget your produce bags or your reusable cup for coffee in the morning. Or times that are out of your control when the waitress brings you a straw when you told her twice not to put one in there. In order for this waste-free journey to stick in your life, we have to remember perfection is impossible. As long as you are doing your best with intention, you are on the right track. This is all part of adapting. Your alternative choices will eventually integrate itself into your life and it will be a normal part of you. <3
Photo: Aneta Sofronova