What can we do right now to drastically eliminate waste? Many of the solutions to prevent and reduce waste are methods humans used before single-use disposables. They are not "new", they were a part of many indigenous cultures and communities of color for generations. We can use a low-waste mindset to navigate around a fast-paced, distracted, and disposable culture. It’s not about being perfect in our endeavors, it’s truly about putting value back into what use and how we use things.
Refuse single-use disposables. This is anything you use once and toss. When we move from a disposable lifestyle to a reusable lifestyle, we put value and meaning back into our belongings and we disengage from a disposable society.
Bring your own reusable and durable coffee/beverage cup! You can use a sturdy glass canning jar with a koozie for hot and cold beverages, thermos, or a regular an old pickle jar! Many coffee establishments will even offer you a discount for bringing your own cup too!
Bring your own reusable cloth bag for both groceries and produce. You can find many options here.
Refuse! Ask for no straw when you order your drinks at establishments (you may still get a straw, but at least you tried!).
Rethink and simplify your consumer wants and needs. What really provides you value? What do you really use?
Share! Sharing communities are popping up all around the U.S. and the world. From transportation sharing to household tools and instruments. Check your local community for tool libraries, car and bike sharing programs!
Visit your local thrift stores for gently used household goods and clothing.
Learn to make simple household cleaners from inexpensive ingredients.
Support your community and use your voice! Take a closer look at your community; know what is available. From hard to recycle drop-off centers, composting opportunities, community gardens, sharing programs, and farmers markets - our communities can become a wealth of support. If there is not much available - start something! Give businesses incentives to make positive changes. Use social media to share your concern (kindly), start a petition, and demand products be designed and manufactured with zero waste in mind.
Take ownership! Put value back into the things you own by taking ownership of your belongings.
Repair or mend your possessions before tossing and rebuying.
If an item is beyond repair, ask yourself if the item can be repurposed into another application (example: old t-shirts into reusables tissues).
Responsibly dispose or recycle items that are no longer usable.
With simplicity we become less overwhelmed by stuff. Let go of items you no longer use or need. Learn about your true wants and needs.
Here are a few questions to help us edit what we don’t need and to help us from unnecessary purchases:
Questions to ask…
Why do I need this?
How will I use this?
Can I do without it?
Is this item repairable?
Will it last?
Is it beautiful? Is it inspiring?
Does this item provide real value to me?