Confession time: I didn't care about the environment until very recently. Like really recently. Because the harmful affects of human consumption had no direct, negative impact on the lifestyle I was living, I didn't think anything of it. Until I started working at a certain global coffeehouse/fast food chain. Yes, I'm talking about that one.
Every day, the average American produces 4.40 pounds of trash each day (Municipal Solid Waste, EPA). That's 132 pounds over the course of a month and 1,584 pounds over the course of a year, just from one person alone. Multiply that over the entire population and factor in the waste produced by businesses. It's a lot of waste. We've sacrificed our environment for the sake of convenience. From the thousands of disposable plastic cups and straws consumed daily to purchasing pre-packaged groceries, it seems nearly impossible to escape waste. Or is it?
After devouring many videos by Jenny Mustard (particularly this one), I've found myself inspired by the low-waste lifestyle. It aligns with my minimalist philosophy and is even more cost effective than the traditional lifestyle.
Note that it's a low-waste lifestyle, not zero waste. I'm not becoming a vegan fitness crystal warrior - that's just not who I am. I just want to make thoughtful choices about what I bring into my home and what I put out.
Because of my current academic endeavors and place in life, I can't eliminate all of my trash like Lauren Singer has. I still need (and quite frankly enjoy) analog stationery for school, enjoy indulging in beauty products, and occasionally need to purchase new things. However, my newfound low-waste credo is to use what I currently own, instead of tossing it and letting it sit in a landfill or purchasing new products and increasing the demand, and make conscious choices in the future. It's not perfect, but it fits the lifestyle I want to create for myself.
Although I'm not an outdoors-person or environmentalist by any means, I've always appreciated the sentiment of leaving nothing but footprints, taking nothing but photos, and killing nothing but time. Changing my lifestyle alone won't help solve the global trash problem, but it's better than nothing, right? Anyways, I digress; here's what's inside my zero waste kit and a few tips on how to get started living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
This adorable tote was complementary with my purchase at Glossier's LA store. Although it's not the world's highest quality (The New Yorker's complementary totes are quite possibly the nicest canvas bags I've ever owned), it's cute, lightweight, compactable, and most importantly has a large capacity
steel straw & utensils
We've all seen that video of the turtle with a plastic straw up its nose. Do the ocean critters (and yourself) a favor and use a reusable straw. Plastic utensils are also so incredibly flimsy, and practically useless when it comes to spooning as much food as possible into your mouth. Upgrade to a real utensil set to use on the go; literally just steal a set from your kitchen drawer!
A mason jar seems to be every zero-waster's kit and it's easy to see why. It's durable, cost effective, and can hold everything from your morning coffee to your afternoon snack. If you don't have a mason jar, you can use any spare jar! Just make sure to give it a good wash before you use it. Also plenty of coffee shops offer reusable cup discounts to their patrons if you bring one in!
This utensil wrap is made from 100% cotton that I made myself! Sure it's a little dorky but I don't sweat over it knowing that my planet is a little happier and cleaner.
There's no point paying for water when it's free.
Three Ways To Reduce Waste
- Replace paper towels with reusable rags! You can either purchase shop towels or make them from old towels and t-shirts. Just cut them up into appropriately sized squares, hem them if you're feeling fancy, and you're good to go.
- Purchase natural surface cleaning refills or use castile soap instead. Naturally derived cleaners and castile soap are both biodegradable so they won't be tainting your water supply for years to come. Not only will you be reducing your landfill contribution, you'll be saving a heck of a ton of money too. Castile soap can be diluted to be used for anything from washing your hair to your dishes.
- Make conscious fashion choices. I love Urban Outfitters and Zara as much as your fellow college-aged fashion enthusiast but their labor and environmental practices are less than squeaky clean. Opt for (more) sustainable and cautious choices instead, such as thrift shopping, Everlane, or Girlfriend Collective.