Zero Waste Travel

Any type of traveling can be stressful enough. Whether you’re just heading to work or flying across the country, there are a million things to worry about. Where are my keys? Should I bring a coat? Do I have the right papers for my flight? Despite double and triple checking everything, you still wonder ‘Do I have everything I need?’ as you are walking out of the door. We get it: life on-the-go is not always easy.

But a travel-packed life often has some issues of its own that we may not want to recognize. First and foremost: waste. To-go containers and gadgets, food packages and drinks, and single-use everything can be convenient and easy to travel with, but at the end of the day they’re just another disposable item making it into our landfills. After all, as destructive as single-use items can be, people like them because we can use them and get rid of them (out of sight, out of mind, right?). Once anything goes into that forbidden trash receptacle, it’s easy to forget about it–as well as the 500+ years it will spend in our landfills. As a culture, we are conditioned to always seek out convenience. We often forget that this convenience comes at the expense of our beloved environment. But don’t worry, there is hope! With these simple zero waste travel tips you can become a conscious, on-the-go expert in no time!

Your “going out” essentials pack

EarthHero - Zero Waste Essentials

This is a list of essential items for almost everyone. When you leave the house, make sure to take these with you! Never be caught unprepared and forced to take the dreaded single-use anything. Put these items together and keep them on your person, in your car, at work, or wherever is most convenient. If you have these with you when you head out, then you’re on the road to reducing your trash output in no time!

1. Reusable water bottle

Hydration is a key player to human health, so make sure you do it the right way! Ditch the plastic bottles and opt for a sturdy reusable bottle that can be filled, washed, and reused over and over again!

2. Reusable utensil set

You never know when you will encounter the need for utensils. It happens more often than you think! If you carry around a reusable set, you are sure to be prepared for any spontaneous snack or meal that comes your way!

3. Reusable bag

Whether it’s a planned trip to the grocery store or an “I just want to look” turned accidental shopping spree, make sure you’re prepared. Keep a reusable bag with you at all times; you never know what life will throw at you!

4. Reusable straw

There is no reason not to carry around a reusable straw. It’s slim, lightweight, and overall easy to carry around. With your pick of stainless steel or glass, you will be sure to make a statement anytime you pull it out of your bag. Oh, and make sure to tell your waiter ‘no straw, please!’

5. Reusable to-go container

Sometimes there are leftovers from work that you do not want to go to waste. Other times, you may decide to treat yourself to a meal in town. Maybe you stopped at a friend’s house and they want to give you some food for the road. Who are you to say no? If you keep a container on you, you mean business. Styrofoam, plastic, and aluminum foil are all food storage containers and wrappings of the past. Simply fill your reusable container, store, eat later, and enjoy!

Be eco-friendly everywhere!

Now, let’s get into some situational stuff. While the essentials will get you far, it can’t hurt to be even more prepared when certain events arise. Is work an eco-disaster? Zero waste travel tools are here to help! Going out to eat with the gals? We have gear for that, too! Taking a trip with your little ones? Have no fear!

To work and beyond! 

For many, coffee or tea is a morning must. Whether you make it at home or get it on the road, do your best to ditch disposables! Opt for an insulated mug instead that will not only save your hot drinks from getting cold, but the planet, too! (Pro tip: if you get coffee on the go, ask your barista if they can prepare it in your mug. They may not always say yes, but it can’t hurt to try! Some cafes will even give you a discount!)

So you’re making lunch at home and bringing it to work–that’s awesome! Using plastic wrap, tin foil, or other less sustainable means to transport your meal from A to B? Not so great. Avoid plastic wrapped sandwiches and unsustainable snacks by using reusable containers or food wraps. From tiffins, to sandwich wraps, to bento boxes, there’s tons of ways to pack a lunch without plastic. 

Now, how are you going to eat your lunch? Sure, plastic cutlery is convenient, but reusable utensils are much more fun and eco-friendly! With a bamboo utensil set, of course! 

EarthHero - 3-Tier Stainless Steel Tiffin Food Container - 2

Going out to eat

A reusable container once again saves the day! More often than not, restaurants serve large portions. But no worries, save that delicious dish for a next day meal! Leftover containers are very rarely eco-friendly. The most they can be at most restaurants is compostable, but few take the steps to do that. Instead, we are given plastic and styrofoam, neither of which are good for the environment. To solve this problem, bring your own container, slide your food into it, and take it with you. It’s that easy!

Restaurants and bars are notorious for contributing to the plastic straw epidemic. Straws are both harmful to the environment and the wildlife within it. Do your part and take action one of two ways: bring your own reusable straw or tell your server, No straw, please! These glass straws come with their own carrying case and cleaner. They come in a variety of fun colors, so choose your favorite and bring it everywhere you go! Or, find the straw alternative that works for you here!

For your longer travels

You really can’t go wrong bringing utensils around with you. Never again should you miss an opportunity to eat some delicious goodies, especially when you’re traveling! Say no to disposable plastic cutlery that will never be recycled, and yes to reusables that are easy to simply toss in your bag. 

Airport snacks can be so tempting, and expensive! Every corner you turn, there is another kiosk trying to sell you plastic wrapped this and disposable that. Avoid the expensive cravings by packing yourself some food for when you’re waiting. Trail mix, cut up fruit, and cereal are all lightweight and easy to carry zero waste travel options that are sure to make any adventure better!

To ensure you don’t have to buy bottled water, or take one of the free bottled waters on the airplane, simply bring your reusable bottle along and ask the flight attendant to fill it up for you on the plane! You’ll get more water, won’t use any plastic, and chances are, your bottle will probably spill a lot less than the little water cup they leave on your tray table.

Traveling with kids

When traveling with kids, it is important to use whatever fits your lifestyle best–and create positive habits to pass along to your little ones! Kick Ziplock bags to the curb and instead, fill these reusable snack bags with your kids’ favorite goodies, store, eat when ready, wash, and repeat! Your little ones certainly won’t mind the snack bag switch up, and neither will the planet! Or, try a compostable alternative to Ziplock bags–they are single-use, but won’t leave behind plastic thanks to their biofilm material. 

As convenient as those small, plastic water bottle are for your kids, they do not have a small impact on the environment. Instead, opt for some kids sized reusables! Not only are you reducing your consumption of plastic, but this is a great way to teach your tiny tots about responsibility by having them take care of their bottle! Plus, try kid-sized utensils made for tiny hands!

You’re setting an example!

Every time you pull a sustainable tool out of your arsenal, you are making a statement: “I care about the planet and you should too!” All too often, people assume that it’s too difficult to be sustainable, but you are living proof! When you bring your own container to the restaurant, people will notice. When you refuse a straw and instead pull out your own, people will catch on. Your choices and actions will make an impact, all you have to do is get started!

Soon enough, your friends and family will jump on board and then their friends and family will, and so on and so forth. The Zero Waste Movement is picking up traction and we want you to be a part of it! Take what makes sense for your lifestyle and implement it. Bringing these goodies with you from place to place and on every journey will become second nature in no time. Then, you’ll be on your way to being a zero waste travel expert!

Life Hacks for a Zero Waste Home

Today’s culture has made it really easy to buy, use, and throw away at a pace that our planet can’t keep up with. Most of the things we buy are made to be used for a short period of time, and tossed out when they aren’t needed anymore. Going zero waste involves a shift in thinking, but once you start thinking about how much waste you produce, it’s easy to start reducing it!

At EarthHero, our aim is to provide everyone with the opportunity to be a conscious consumer and live a zero waste lifestyle. In this week’s post for Zero Waste March, we’re sharing our favorite zero waste home hacks and “Do It Yourself” projects to lessen the amount of waste coming in and out of your home.

Time to Clean House

It’s no secret that traditional cleaning products are packed full of harmful chemicals–not to mention the disposable plastic bottles they come in! Your cleaning arsenal is a great place to start thinking eco. From shopping selectively to making your own, there are plenty of ways to make a change!

The DIY breakdown

Citrus + Vinegar

Citrus vinegar is an excellent way to clean even the dirtiest of kitchens, bathrooms, and tile floors. On top of that, it’s super simple to make; all you have to do is soak your citrus peels (lemons, oranges, limes) in white vinegar for two weeks, strain your concoction, and slap on a spray topper. Now you’re in business! You can even add some mood-lifting essential oils to bring some energy to your cleaning.

zero-waste-home-vodka-cleaning

Vodka always helps!

Calling all party animals: put that bottle of vodka to good use and use it as a natural disinfectant. While it may be known for starting a good time, it can clean up after one too. Vodka can be used to kill sickness causing germs and even disinfect wounds. (We recommend using the cheap stuff for cleaning, and save the expensive stuff for later.) Add ½ cup vodka to ½ cup water, then sweeten it up with some essential oils for a refreshing scent and added antimicrobial benefits. Try adding a few drops of lavender during flu season, and tea tree oil to give your ceramic surfaces special treatment!

When Life Gives You Lemons… Clean With Them!

Did you know that lemons are a great natural disinfectant that can be used in a variety of ways? We love bamboo cooking utensils for their durability (and they’re beautiful!), but they need special care–which is where lemons come in. Not only is bamboo a sustainable resource, but it will last a lifetime if taken care of properly. Hand wash your utensils in warm water and use lemon juice straight from the source to disinfect. Make sure the utensils are nice and dry after washing to prevent molding. Rub them down with oil to prevent cracks and breaking if they begin to look a little dried out, and they’ll stand by you for a long time!

It doesn’t stop there; lemons can also be used to remove stains from countertops and ceramic surfaces, clean out the gunk in your microwave, and freshen your garbage disposal. The best part is, you can toss them right in your compost bin afterwards!

Simpler solutions

Not into DIY? We’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favorite swaps for your sustainable cleaning supply…

Organic Glass Cleaner

Natural Clean-All Scouring Powder

Citrus Spray and Mop Floor Cleaner

Declutter that Bathroom

EarthHero - Natural Charcoal & Mint Tooth Powder - 2.5oz

Tooth Powder

It’s time to breakup with your tube of toothpaste. Sorry toothpaste–it’s not you, it’s me. Actually, it’s the tube. If taking a look at the ingredient label doesn’t already scare you away, think how many toothpaste tubes people toss over their lifetime. Typically made with plastic or aluminum, around one billion toothpaste tubes end up in landfills every year.

Now, we aren’t telling you to not brush your teeth, but we are suggesting you to try out tooth powder! It’s available to buy here, but if you’re feeling a little adventurous you can give this DIY recipe a try!

The three main ingredients are 4 tablespoons bentonite clay, 2 tablespoons baking soda, and 1½ teaspoons unrefined sea salt. Once you mix that together as a base, you can add whatever you like! Cinnamon is antibacterial and adds great flavor, activated charcoal will make those pearly whites even brighter, and peppermint essential oils will leave your mouth minty fresh.

Now, switch that plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one, and you’re all set!

Simplify your hair routine

Once you find that perfect shampoo + conditioner set, you won’t find yourself with half-empty bottles cluttering your shower. Opt for a refillable option, like Plaine Products, and you’ll suddenly find simplicity in your routine! Once you’re low, just order your replacement bottles, and they’ll cover shipping your old ones back. No more empty bottles, no more waste!

DIY Dry Shampoo

We’ve all been there: you wake up a little late, and wonder if you can get away without washing your hair for the third day in a row. Dry shampoo is perfect when you need that extra 30 minutes of sleep and you’re not feeling a hat day. Not only will you save time and money with this homemade version of dry shampoo, but you’ll also keep toxic chemicals away from your scalp.

For light hair, use ¼ cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch as a base. For dark hair, add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder to 2 tablespoons of the arrowroot/cornstarch mixture. Add 5 drops of essential oil to leave your hair smelling lovely. Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone how long it’s been since your hair’s been washed (oops!).

DIY Lip Balm

With so many lip balm options out there, it’s hard to pick the right one. You want something silky, smooth, and full of moisture, but not greasy. Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Make it yourself! It’s that simple.

All you need are three basic ingredients: beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil. In just ten minutes, you’ll have all-natural, kissable lips! Melt 3 tablespoons beeswax, 2 tablespoons shea butter, and 4 tablespoons coconut oil in a pan. Once your mixture is consistent, pour it into a container and let harden. You can use any old lip balm container, or even an Altoid tin. Add some essential oils for a fun flavor, and for a natural tint, try adding a dash of Kool-Aid powder. Voila, homemade lip balm!

 

The Many Uses of Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is one of those items that is super inexpensive to buy in bulk. To fill a 4 ounce jar, it typically costs less than a dollar! Cocoa powder is a natural superstar when it comes to beauty. Its rich, chocolatey color is perfect for filling in eyebrows, swiped across cheekbones as bronzer, and even used as eyeshadow for a bold, smokey look! For all you beauty virtuosos, give yourself a warm cocoa glow by using cocoa as a body bronzer. If you’re a real expert, use it to contour your face. This multifunctional gem will save you from creating excess waste and eliminate toxic chemicals that are ever so prominent in beauty products.

Natural Makeup Remover and Moisturizer

Look no further than jojoba oil as your new skincare superhero. Packed full of vitamin E and other healthy fatty acids, jojoba oil can be used to remove makeup while also moisturizing your skin. This non-toxic oil will give your skin the natural boost it needs! It’s great for soothing acne, nourishing dry skin and hair, and keeping skin youthful and wrinkle-free. It’s non-greasy, all natural, and non-irritating. No wonder it’s referred to as “liquid gold”!

Bringing it Home

Zero waste is becoming more and more popular as individuals aim to lessen their impact on the planet. At first, going completely zero waste may be a new way of thinking, but in reality, it can actually make your life simpler. Many people who work towards a zero waste home are amazed how much time and money they end up saving!

Your journey is your own, and everybody approaches zero waste differently. We’re here to help though! Check back on our blog for more tips and tricks on how you can easily reduce your impact. The planet will be sure to thank you!

Reduce Your Food Waste

Did you know that food waste takes up more space in our landfills than any other material (21.6% of landfill space, in fact!) On the surface, this may not seem like a huge deal… because food decomposes, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story when it comes to food waste. 

When organic matter decomposes in landfills, it gets trapped among all of the other plastic and non-organic matter, which seals it off from distributing nutrients back into the soil correctly. This creates and releases methane, which is roughly 23 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

It’s no secret that it’s important to reduce food waste, both locally and globally, but changing personal habits can be difficult and it can take time. The key to minimizing waste is reducing how much you “consume” in the first place, which will leave you with a decluttered mentality and a happier wallet. As conscious consumers, we are the pioneers in encouraging a shift towards more package-free food options by changing our shopping habits and becoming aware of the items we purchase. When you only buy what you and your household will definitely consume while avoiding unnecessary packaging, you can protect the environment from pollution, conserve finite resources, and even save money in the process. It’s a win-win!

Don’t know where to start? Here are some zero waste tips to clear your cart and home of excess waste!

Package Free Grocery Shopping

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Aisles in conventional supermarkets are full of products that are pre-packaged in non-biodegradable materials or high-grade plastics. Think microwaveable popcorn: kernels inside of a paper bag wrapped with plastic, encased in a cardboard box. Or picture your pre-cut veggies, sitting on a styrofoam tray wrapped in (again) plastic. There is so much wasted packaging that can be avoided by buying items like popcorn kernels in bulk, and vegetables in their whole form. Not only is plastic-free better for the environment, but it’s typically much less expensive.

According to the EPA, 23% of landfills are full of packaging materials, many of which are food related. Take a stand and step away from unnecessary packaging. Making a change takes time, intention, and proper planning. Next time you go to the store, try to reduce your footprint by doing just one or more of the following…

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag! 

reduce-food-waste-produce-bags

Avoid pre-cut/pre-packaged items, especially produce, and forgo the plastic produce bags. The only purpose these serve is to get your produce from the grocery store to your home. Instead, opt for your own reusable produce bag or create your own by using an old pillowcase.

When it comes time for the question, “paper or plastic?,” instead go with option 3: hand over the reusable bags you brought from home. Reusable grocery bags and produce bags are easily stowable in your glovebox or backseat, and can reduce a ton of non-recyclable plastic bags from entering your home. Keep these bags in a handy spot in your car so you’re always ready to go, even for those impromptu trips. If you’re a rockstar on your road bike and prefer to take that instead of a car (props to you), try a grocery pannier–they are the perfect size for shopping trip necessities and will lay flat against your bike when not in use.

reduce-food-waste-bulkBuy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is another great way to pass on cardboard boxes and plastic bags. Look for items like dried grains, nuts, candy, spices, flour, or sugar to buy in bulk. To do this, you’ll just need some empty containers to take to and from the store.

Mason jars are a fan favorite, or you can reuse glass containers already lying around the house (we love pickle jars and pasta sauce jars!). Cloth bags or small food canisters can also be a great way to carry your bulk food items from the store to your home. Shopping for oils and liquids? Use empty wine bottles or a growler for craft beer or fresh kombucha! Take it one step further and bring your containers to the deli counter for meats and cheeses! 

How to take on the bulk bins:

  1. Weigh the empty container and note it–this can be done at home, or stores usually have scales
  2. Fill the container with whatever your heart desires
  3. Note the PLU (Price Look Up) or Bin#–you can write it on your container or simply just take a photo of it on your phone
  4. Pay & enjoy–it’s that easy!

Plus, checkout our top ten tips for buying in bulk here!

Not all packaging is equal

Prepackaged items in grocery stores are popular for their convenience, though they’re often unhealthier and more processed than fresh, natural alternatives–but let’s be realistic; nobody’s perfect. We all have our indulgences, and sometimes you just gotta grab something and go. When you do need to buy something that’s packaged, try aiming for recyclable materials like glass, aluminum, and cardboard/paper boxes, and avoid plastics and styrofoam.

Food Friendliness… Lets Taco-bout it

You’re an expert on packaging waste; you know why it’s bad, and how to avoid it. Let’s spend some time on how to reduce food waste: the seed of life and star of the game. Food waste is a global epidemic. In fact, 1/3 of all food produced in the world is unconsumed. Believe it or not, over half of that wasted food is the fault of retailers and consumers in industrialized nations. In the United States alone, 30-40% of food supply is wasted at the retail and consumer level, creating about 35 million tons of food per year! Worth about $161 billion dollars, that could feed a whole population of people, but instead it’s decomposing in landfills and producing that environmentally degrading greenhouse gas, methane.

While these facts are scary and unsettling, we have the power to change it! Here are some tools to start the transition towards reducing your waste food at home.

Plan Ahead

It sounds simple, but it’s the little things that count. Take inventory of what you already have in your fridge and pantry before going to the market to ensure you aren’t over-purchasing. Make a list and have a plan of meals for the week to avoid impulse buys, which greatly contribute to food waste. Refrain from over-serving food and make sure to save your leftovers. Our eyes are often times bigger than our stomachs, which can lead to a bunch of wasted food. Start by serving yourself modest portions on smaller plates, and go back for seconds if you find your tummy is still grumbling for more. Save what you don’t finish and eat it for tomorrow’s lunch, or get crafty in the kitchen and create a new dish out of what’s left.

reduce-food-waste-ugly-veggiesPick the Not-So-Perfect Produce

So many fruits and vegetables get tossed because they aren’t picture perfect, even though they are completely edible and full of nutrients. Bruises can be cut off and odd shapes don’t mean bad tastes. Give the imperfects a little TLC next time you’re at the store. (Bonus: farmers markets usually offer a discounted price for blemished produce, just ask for “seconds” or “imperfects”). You’ll be saving food, dollars, and resources!

Shop the Local Farmers Market

For those of you who are lucky enough to live in an area where fresh food is grown locally, take advantage of it! Local fruits and vegetables are much fresher, since they begin to lose nutrients once they are harvested. Experience the variety that traditional grocery stores don’t always have: purple cauliflower, heirloom tomatoes, and quail eggs. By shopping locally for seasonal produce, you’re helping to preserve the farmland and green space of your region, while also minimizing your carbon footprint! Support your farmers and embrace the community feel of your local market.

 

Make it last!

Food is always better when it’s fresh… did you know that some materials can keep your produce fresher, for longer?

There are a ton of options for wrapping up your sliced lemons, halved avocados, and diced carrots. Here are some of our favorites!

The reusable resealable!

Replace your resealable plastic baggies with something that’s more durable, freezer save, dishwasher safe, and that keeps your food super fresh. Plus, these silicone bags come in a wide variety of colors, making food storage just a little more fun! There are too many awesome features of this bag to delve into here, but check them out to learn more!

 

EarthHero - Original Food Huggers - 5 pk - 6

Keep it fresh with a hug

Food Huggers are specially designed to keep fruits and veggies fresh and moisturized longer, in five stretchable sizes for differing produce sizes! Just pop this over the end of your cut fruits and veggies (love avocados?), and the seal will make sure that it will stay fresh until you need it next. No more slicing off that ‘not-so-fresh’ end!

Bonus: these work great over opened cans, too!

Bye plastic wrap, hello naturalEarthHero - Small Beeswax Wraps 3 Pack 3

We get it–food wraps are super convenient. We don’t get why plastic should be the only option, though. Check out these beeswax cloths instead! Simply mold these around your foods with the warmth of your hands, and they’ll mold to the perfect shape. Beeswax is a natural preservative, so your fruits and veggies will stay bright and ready for your next snack. Looking for a vegan option? Check these vegan cloths out instead!

In the end…

Freeze Your Produce and Save Your Scraps

It’s super easy to buy too many fruits or vegetables and not be able to finish them before going bad. Reduce food waste by preserving your produce and saving them for another time by sticking them in the freezer. Cut the produce up and put them in mason jars for headache-free storage. You can keep them frozen for a year before the quality starts to decline, so there is definitely time to find a use for the leftovers. These are perfect for making smoothies when the craving hits, making banana bread, or adding to yogurt or ice cream as a topping!

reduce-food-waste-broth

It’s also a good idea to repurpose other scraps including carrot tops, onion skins, and meat bones (stay with us here…). Keep them in the freezer, and once you have enough gathered, make a veggie or bone broth!

You can put your coffee grounds to good use by mixing them with brown sugar and coconut oil to hydrate and scrub dead skin away. Did you know banana peels can be used to whiten your teeth? Try rubbing the peels on your teeth once or twice a day after brushing. They can also be used to shine your shoes! Rub the inside of the peel across your tattered leather shoes and watch them shine. You’ll be surprised at how far your kitchen scraps will go! Want to DIY a bit? Check out some our zero waste home tips here!

Compost

For those leftovers you just can’t salvage, scrape your food waste into an odor-free compost bin and feed them back to mother nature. Most compost bins feature a charcoal filter to absorb odors, so you won’t even know it’s there. Chopping up a storm? This compost bin makes it simple to swipe scraps off the cutting board and into the bin, thanks to its nifty cabinet attachment–and it perfect for freezing scraps, like we mentioned before! 

Some cities will pick up organic waste right at your home and others may have local drop off locations. You can see what’s available near you at findacomposter.com, or print the awesome composting guides below! When in doubt, check out EcoCycle’s composting guideline chart, and these guidelines for what non-food items you can compost! Plus, check out the EarthHero blog on How-To Compost here!

The Take-Away

No matter how hard we try, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate waste from our lives. Start at the source and cut down on food packaging when possible! When items have reached the end of their life and can no longer be reused or repurposed, dispose of everything properly. Our goal isn’t to be 100% waste free (shoot for the moon, though!), but it’s to take steps in the right direction of eliminating how much waste we are producing. 

Ready to take zero-waste past the kitchen? Check out how to start the transition here!

Transition to a Zero Waste Lifestyle

zero-waste-lifestyle-mason-jar-transition

Zero Waste Lifestyle: The Transition

If you’ve read our last blog post, you’ve heard that March is all about zero waste. From saying no to single use plastics, to tackling the struggle of takeout and leftovers, the EarthHero team is taking on the challenge of producing less trash and nailing down the basics of living a zero waste lifestyle. Don’t know what zero waste is? We’d love for you to join the movement! Check out our quick summary of the movement here.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably safe to say that you’re on board with the idea of making less trash. But with any new lifestyle change, there comes an adjustment period. We’re here to let you know that some challenges are normal, and we’re experiencing it right along with you. Here are a few tactics that we’ve found helpful when starting a transition to zero waste!

Don’t Panic

We’ve all been there. You discover a new fad diet or workout trend and set out to incorporate it into your life. Your intentions are pure, and the end goal is something that you not only want, but can realistically accomplish. As the first few days go by, you’re on track and motivated, but there’s always something that can quickly derail your progress (if you let it).

The first rule of zero waste is that there’s no such thing as failing! If your goal for that week is to say no to all plastic straws, don’t beat yourself up if you forget to ask the bartender to ditch the straw at happy hour. Hell, you might ask and they’ll just put the straw in your drink anyway! The worst thing you can do is get so frustrated that you quit. Make sure to go into this knowing that you’re going to create some trash, and that’s a-okay.

Create a System

As with any new lifestyle change, it’s helpful to break your transition down into a few smaller steps. Although you might want to quit trash cold-turkey, we’re all human here, and that’s pretty tricky. Instead, write down a few of your biggest goals, and set up a schedule to slowly bring them into practice.

For example, if you’re a dedicated foodie and are constantly eating on the go, it can be daunting to avoid all of your takeout trash at once. Instead, maybe take the first week to stop getting your coffee in disposable cups. (Fun fact: single use hot coffee cups are not recyclable!) Instead, ask your barista to put your morning joe in a reusable coffee mug! While they might not always say yes, it’s worth a try. You can also think about making coffee at home. Sure, on-the-go coffee is convenient, but making it at home is one less stop you have to make during your travels–plus you’ll save money! Once you’ve got that down, try to carry around a reusable utensil set to replace single use plastic cutlery. Figured that out? Move on to bringing reusable straws everywhere you go, or bringing your own container to bring home those leftovers!

Some aspects of zero waste do involve a little more planning. Between meal prepping, coming prepared to the grocery store, and timing your bulk grocery store runs properly; it can be super helpful to plan ahead. Start by creating a menu for the week, or setting time aside to make sure you’ve washed your reusables and stocked up on the necessities. By planning out your week and anticipating potential struggles, you can drastically cut down on last minute plastic wrapped snacks, and yet another day of forgetting your reusable grocery bag. By breaking everything down into small steps, you’ll already have incorporated multiple waste reduction skills into your everyday life in no time!

Don’t Start from Scratch

Starting a zero waste lifestyle doesn’t mean you need to buy everything new. Sure, your favorite Instagram environmentalist has a snazzy new coffee mug or reusable food wrap, but that doesn’t mean you need flashy new items to successfully make less trash. While you get the hang of things, you can use your old takeout containers and repurposed pickle jars. Get creative! Upgrade when you really need more storage, or when your old items aren’t serving their purpose anymore.

If your first zero waste project is making DIY cleaning solution, use up your existing product first. If your goal is to cut down on waste, you don’t want half a bottle of unused cleaner going to the landfill just because you’ve moved on to a better one. Once you’ve made the most of what you already have, you can have fun upgrading to a fun cleaning set to make your essential oil-infused spray in! You can also use your old cleaning bottles to create some natural solutions in (just be careful not to mix leftover chemicals from old bottles!). The best way to cut down on waste is to make the most out of what you already have first.

Reduce Responsibly

Zero waste goes hand in hand with minimalism. You don’t need to be surrounded by items you don’t use, so slowly phasing out some items in your home can be a huge factor in making less waste. This brings a whole new challenge into play–what do you do with all of the stuff that you no longer want or need?

If you have clothing, kitchen supplies, or other gadgets that no longer have a place in your home, you can do your part by making sure you’ve given them their best shot at a second life. For items that are reusable, find a local thrift shop that can get these items to someone who needs them. Plus, different thrift stores benefit different organizations, so you can double your impact by donating to a store that benefits local wildlife or homeless shelters!

For items that are long past their lifespan, it’s worth it to do your research and find the best place to dispose of it. For ripped or stained clothing, find a place to drop off clothing that will recycle them into new textiles. Check your local recycling guidelines or TerraCycle to find out just how to recycle and repurpose your no longer desired items. Sure, it may be easy to simply throw them away, but what good does that do? Do right by our Earth, take the time, and recycle right!

There Is No “Right Way”

Zero waste is not some elitist club where you make one wrong mistake and you’re outta there! It’s about doing the best you can, utilizing what’s within your own reach, and reducing waste. Make it your own and get creative with your sustainability swaps and tricks. We’re here to make waste reduction a fun journey, not a chore! To recap, here are some zero waste lifestyle tips to keep in mind when you are making your transition.

Get out of your comfort zone! You may have to ask your barista for coffee in your mug and you may have to ask the bartender to “hold the straw, please.” It might feel weird at first, but in time, these simple asks will become second nature.

Use up the old before making or purchasing the new! It can be exciting to learn how to make that new, natural, 3 ingredient, all-purpose cleaner, but don’t let your half used one sit on the shelf! Use that first and then make the new.

Recycle and repurpose the right way! Do your research and responsibly dispose of those hard-to-recycle materials. If our goal is to reduce waste, then the landfill is the last place we want our things to go. A quick Google search will point you in the right direction of where to dispose of certain items.

Making the effort to go zero waste does not have to be scary. If you take your time to make an effective, lasting transition, your waste output is bound to diminish. So be patient, don’t stress, and stick with us!

Ready to show off your ZW skills? We have an entire month of zero waste coming, including tips, challenges, and a giveaway for a grand prize worth over $200+ dollars! Plus, on April 4th, we’ll be hosting a webinar with zero waste guru and founder of BeZero Andrea Sanders, where she’ll break down the movement and answer your questions. Stay tuned on our Facebook and Instagram to get involved!

The Zero Waste Movement

The concept of producing “zero waste” has received a lot of buzz in recent years. But what is it? Does it really mean producing zero trash? Is zero waste even possible in today’s world?

Living a zero waste lifestyle is a journey, and it probably won’t happen overnight (in fact, we can pretty much guarantee that). But lucky for you, there are tons of ways that you can shift towards zero waste with a couple of quick, easy, and fun changes! From tackling zero waste living in your home and kitchen, to on-the-go, you’ll be surprised how fulfilled you can feel after minimizing your lifestyle. Read on to learn what zero waste means, why it’s becoming popular, and how you can get involved in the movement. 

It’s time for a change!

It’s no joke that we live in a world that revolves around consumption. Commercials, advertisements and celebrities are always telling us to buy the next thing. And then a week later, they’re promoting the “newest version”, and before you know it, you’ve entered a vicious cycle. The thing is, many of us buy into it, and this ever-increasing consumption comes with a hefty price. Now, more than ever before, our precious “stuff” is ending up in landfills (on average, 4.4lbs of trash per person every day!), and most people don’t even realize there’s a problem–out of sight, out of mind, right?

Food, clothes, gadgets and gizmos; basically everything you could possibly imagine ends up in our trash cans. But then where does it go? Straight to the landfill, where it contributes to all sorts of nasty issues, like seeping chemicals into groundwater, emitting toxic gases that contribute to climate change and increased greenhouse gases, and wasting the energy and resources that created what was thrown away in the first place. But there is a better way, and it’s called zero waste living.

What is Zero Waste?

There’s a growing movement of people around the world taking measures into their own hands, coming up with tips and tricks to reduce, reuse, refuse, repurpose, and recycle everyday items. Their goal is simply to send the least amount of things to the landfill by shopping, and living, conscientiously– which often means saying “no” to things that can’t be recycled or composted at the end of its life.

Being part of the solution starts with reducing your own impact, and continues with finding ways to reverse some of the damage thats already been done. By mirroring nature’s sustainable cycles, zero-wasters aim to reduce what’s sent to landfills by turning discarded materials into new, usable resources. They reduce what they need, reuse what they can, recycle what they must, and compost everything else, working towards a more “circular mindset.” We only get one planet, and zero-wasters are dedicated to making it last!

Here’s the thing: you don’t need to produce zero trash to be “zero waste”. In a world filled with single use plastics and shrink wrapped samples, even the most dedicated zero waste stars are bound to find unavoidable waste. It’s all about taking small steps and doing your best to cut out unnecessary waste any way that you can, and not giving up when the odds aren’t in your favor.

The Movement

The zero waste movement is not about getting all your trash to fit into a mason jar (though that’s pretty neat to us!) The truth is, those who strive to live a zero waste lifestyle only want to inspire others with their dedication, and give us the tools on how they do it, so we can too. It doesn’t stop at individuals, however! The zero waste movement is gaining recognition through laws, regulations, and commitments from organizations and cities across the nation, as the world begins to wake up to the plastic crisis we’ve created. 

Many zero-wasters recognize Bea Johnson as the pioneer for the zero waste lifestyle movement. In 2008, she adopted a zero waste lifestyle with her family of 6, and in 2013 she released the book “Zero Waste Home” which some have touted as the “zero waste bible.” She also runs a blog and even has some Youtube videos, sharing her adventures as a mom of four and sustainability entrepreneur.

Another zero waste inspiration, Andrea Sanders, founded her nonprofit Be Zero in our local town of Boulder to educate and inspire people to make less trash. Through community outreach, workshops, outdoor cleanups, and blog, Sanders and the Be Zero team walk us through everything from waste free cooking to how she manages day to day life without creating trash.

Many attribute the rapid growth of the movement to the internet and the rise of social media. This is partly because many well-known zero wasters have been noticed for sharing their stories, hacks, DIYs and shopping endeavors via Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs. But, influencers aren’t the only ones making a serious commitment to this lifestyle. Corporations, cities, and even countries are beginning to recognize zero waste as a legitimate solution for plastic pollution and climate damage, and create systems that make living zero waste even easier. Certain cities like Washington DC have a plastic bag tax, financially encouraging customers to bring their own reusable bags to stores and shops. Even Starbucks has promised to phase out their single-use straws for a straw-less cup option, which is a huge win for everyone tired of saying “No straw, please” on repeat. 

How to get involved! 

What’s awesome about incorporating a zero waste lifestyle is that you make the journey unique to your needs. Love using a straw? Switch from single-use to reusable. Fine going totally straw-less? That’s cool too. The first step to making less waste is doing something we call a “waste audit”–which means going through your trash and taking inventory of where most of your waste comes from. For those of us who go out to eat often, this may mean an abundance of styrofoam takeout containers and single-use utensils–all of which cannot be recycled. For others, this might mean a lot of food waste that could otherwise be composted. Whatever you find during your waste audit, there is likely a sustainable swap–from zero waste laundry items, to school & office supplies

After you’ve completed your waste audit and identified where the bulk of your trash is coming from, the next step is building sustainable habits to slowly begin to reduce that waste. It does help to start with some zero waste living productsbut, with some items you already have at home and a little creativity, you can DIY your own zero waste essentials! But the most important part of truly creating change is by changing your daily habits. If you get a cup of coffee each morning, adjust your habits to always bring a reusable coffee mug to the cafe. If you love splurging on makeup and clothes, try to be a more “conscious consumer” and only buy what you truly need–bonus points if they’re made out of sustainable materials too (shop plastic-free beauty here!)! As we’ve said, a zero waste lifestyle is a journey, and cannot be done in one day. It starts with awareness and education, and the power of daily decisions. 

This month, and every March at EarthHero, we’re challenging you to go zero waste with us! Throughout the month of March, we’ll be releasing tips, tricks, challenges, and our own personal experiences trying to make less trash–starting with an intro to the movement, then lessons on how to reduce waste in your home, kitchen, and on-the-go. Changing lifelong habits can seem daunting and overwhelming, but we’re here to make it as easy as possible. 

We want to show you that living sustainably doesn’t have to be hard, expensive, time consuming, or inconvenient. Want to know how to make less trash at home? Coming right up! Single use on-the-go items got you down? Look no further! Tired of wasting food in the kitchen? We’ve got that covered too! With a little practice and some everyday hacks, you’ll be on your way to waste reduction in no time!

So, how do YOU live a zero waste lifestyle? Share your tips with the hashtag #ZeroWasteMarch and tag @ShopEarthHero on Facebook and Instagram! Then, check out our top zero waste products to get you started on your journey here!