Going Waste Free: Where to Start

At the beginning of 2018, I pledged to reduce my plastic waste and consumption. I've read many blogs about the zero waste lifestyle, and follow r/zerowaste on Reddit. We've all seen media coverage about whales that wash up on beaches with tons of plastic inside their bellies, or sea turtles with straws stuck in their nostrils.

If you've ever been to New York, you know that this city is dirty - bottles and plastic bags litter the streets despite a trash receptacle on every block. A lot of times, these bins are simply overflowing. I decided to make a change to the way I consume things, in order to reduce my waste and carbon footprint. I quickly learned that making a change like this doesn't just happen overnight.

The first thing I did was jot down in my journal every single thing I used and threw into a garbage can - there was a lot. Paper towels, plastic spoons, tea bags, food containers and wrappers. Merely being aware of how much stuff I was sending to the landfill was eye opening in itself - the first step in reducing waste is self awareness, and being conscious of what you're tossing. 

After writing down the things I threw out for a few weeks, I could then analyze where I created the most waste - paper towels, cotton rounds for makeup removal, makeup wipes, napkins, dental floss picks, and food wrappers (for example, buying produce in plastic bags). A lot of these things can be easily replaced with a reusable version.

A few things that were easy for me to switch out: 

-plastic produce bags have been replaced with mesh bags

-paper towels and napkins were replaced with cloth towels and napkins

-tea bags have been replaced with loose leaf tea and a reusable tea strainer

-plastic straws have been replaced with a metal one that I carry with me

The point that I want to reiterate here is that going waste free is not an overnight process. I'm the kind of person who likes to stock up on things, like cotton rounds for makeup removal, etc. I am going to use them up before I switch over to a more sustainable option, because to get rid of them all without using them would just be wasteful.

This is just the beginning of my journey - stay tuned for more! How have you reduced your plastic waste, or do you have any tips you'd like to share?

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