How To Start Living Zero Waste

The Rules:

1. Don't Make Waste

This one is pretty simple, for your zero waste day you’re going to avoid buying new things and creating trash (and that includes recycling -- more on that below)! So that means bringing your coffee cup and water bottle, making sure you ask for your drink without a straw, and bringing your own bags and containers with you if you’re doing any grocery shopping. 

Waste is actually a shorthand for the whole production process. Each new item we buy has all kinds of extraction, transportation, and manufacturing in its past, and this is unfortunately still true for recycling. That’s why we focus not only on decreasing the amount of trash and recycling we produce, but also the amount of new items we buy which are creating tons of trash throughout the production cycle.

2. Collect Your Accidents  

If you do create trash on accident, for example the cashier hands you a receipt even though you said you didn’t need one, don't sweat it!  The point is not to steep in guilt for a day, it's to build your awareness and give you the psychological tools you need to overcome the wasteful habits engrained in all of us. So hang on to any trash and recycling you accidentally accumulate, and you’ll use it for your reflection later.  

What To Prepare

We create more trash from food packaging than any other area in our lives. So you’ll want to be sure to think ahead about the types of things you might need to reduce your trash throughout the day. Here are some things you can stick in your bag that will help:

  1. Travel Mug (if you drink coffee or tea)
  2. A reusable water bottle
  3. A cloth napkin
  4. Cloth bags and containers (if you plan on doing any shopping)
  5. A container for leftovers if you plan on eating out

Eating out:

If you find yourself at a restaurant/cafe on your day out, make sure to let your server know that you’re doing a trash-free day and you’d love it if they could help you out. Remember to be really polite and friendly, they might not be used to your request. But thanking them for their help can go a long way.

A few things to watch out for when eating out:

  1. Ask for your drink without a straw
  2. If you order anything that comes with a paper lining (like fries), ask for it directly onto your plate
  3. If the silverware comes wrapped in a paper napkin, ask for just the silverware
  4. Ask for any hot drinks in a ceramic mug rather than a paper cup
  5. Don’t over order to avoid food waste, but if you do have leftovers, pack them in a container you brought

FAQ:

1. What about cosmetics such as toothpaste etc.? 

For the day pledge, go ahead and use what you already have. During the week, month and year pledge we will teach you how to transition those areas of your life to zero waste?

2. What about food I bought before my pledge?

Try to avoid individually packaged items (such as granola bars) and disposable wrapping (such as saran wrap, tin foil etc.). But don’t feel the need to restock your entire kitchen. Use what you have.

3. What about trash in the workplace that’s out of my control?

If you work in a lab for example, or another workplace where trash is hard to avoid, don’t worry about it for now. Focus specifically on how to decrease the trash you have control over. We go into more depth about strategies for the workplace in the week, month and year courses.

Reflection

Take a look at the trash and recycling you accumulated today and do a quick reflection.

What was the most challenging aspect of your day?

What was the best part of the day?

Did you have any interesting interactions or conversations about waste?

What piece of the trash you accumulated is the most surprising?

What zero waste habit do you think you can continue in your everyday life?

Upload a picture of your trash [option to share on social media and tag us]

Summary:

Do your best to avoid trash and recycling and buying new things. Keep any trash and recycling that you create accidentally. Reflect on your day and brainstorm some ways to keep the ball rolling. What are some things that you can solve today?

>