Over the past 20 years, the concept of “zero-waste” has become an important part of the greater eco-living effort. As the practice gained popularity with recycling activists, it gradually evolved into a popular social movement in the U.S. and abroad. Since then, people from all over the world have adopted the basic strategies of a more sustainable lifestyle, including:
- Using reusable or recyclable bags when shopping
- Eliminating single-use items, such as disposable utensils
- Choosing cloth paper napkins
- Using glass or stainless steel bottles for water instead of plastic bottles
- Avoiding heavily packaged items when shopping
If you have already mastered these basics and would like to have greater impact, here are some ideas to help you take this eco-smart lifestyle to the next level.
1. Go WFPB
It’s estimated that the single most important and effective step you can take to reduce global warming is to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB). Eating this way offers you more than impressive wellness benefits; it is also a highly effective way to reduce waste. Going WFPB is the epitome of sustainable living, especially if you target local produce with minimal packaging. To get you rolling, check out 7 Things to Know Before Starting a Plant-Based Diet.
2. Buy in bulk
Buying spices, herbs and other items in bulk makes eco-sense for many reasons. For one, it is far more economical than choosing typical grocery store quantities, while also saving hugely on plastic and paper packaging. You may be surprised by just how much of what you rely on daily can be purchased in larger amounts. For example:
- Pink Himalayan salt
- Granulated garlic
- Nuts and seeds, such as sesame, chia, hemp, etc.
- Whole grains
- Veggie broth powder
- Maple syrup powder
- Baking mixes and flour, including gluten-free blends
- Dried fruit, such as elderberries. Learn how to make your own immune-supporting elderberry tea and/or gummies
- Spices like turmeric, cinnamon and paprika
- Herbs, such as basil, oregano, etc.
- Beans and legumes
- Seasoning mixes, like this taco seasoning blend
- Teas, such as chamomile and hibiscus
- Veggie “Bacon Bits”
- Cookies and bars
3. Fall in love with thrifting
If you enjoy shopping but worry about the environmental impact and expense of new clothing, shoes and household items, why not fall in love with thrifting? Not only will buying secondhand save you a bundle, but you can also find many unique items, such as vintage apparel, shoes, boots, bags and jewelry (even designer wear on occasion), allowing you to curate a one-of-a-kind wardrobe that reflects your personality.
Additionally, you can discover fun project pieces, furnishings to restore, home décor, toys, puzzles and games, craft supplies, luggage, recreational gear, and more. Bring the kids too. Thrifting is fun and sets a great example of sustainable living.
It can be fun, economical, and empowering to create your own food items, and it also allows you to control the ingredients and quality. Additionally, DIY is a great way to reduce waste and shrink your carbon footprint, especially when it comes to packaged items that you might purchase often, such as plant-based milk.
This is an easy staple to make, with a basic ratio of 1 cup of raw nuts, seeds, oats (or a combination) to 4 cups water, processed in a high-speed blender until creamy. Try almond-walnut, sesame-almond, pistachio-hempseed, pecan-oat-sesame, or almond-hazelnut. Strain your milk with a mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or a nut-milk bag. Sweeten to taste with liquid stevia or maple syrup. Delicious!
Once you have cultivated the low-waste living basics, it becomes easier to expand your efforts, especially if you keep intentionally looking for inspiration. And it is arguably well worth it, knowing that your efforts are contributing to a safer and more sustainable planet for future generations.