When you hear about people being able to fit all of their trash in a mason jar for an entire year, and you're new to the concept of Zero-Waste, that can seem impossible and might scare you off from trying to start, because you're SO far from that, why even try?
Although, I think it's AWESOME if you jump full into committing to fitting your trash into a jar for a year or longer, but if that freaks you out, why not start with one thing? After a little over two years of living this way myself, I JUST took the plunge in trying to fit my trash into a jar on a monthly basis to start, as I work my way up to a year.
You don't go from trashy to zero overnight, it can take years, or sooner [depending on how hardcore you want to be about it], to get to that point. Ok. But how and where do you start?!
I get asked this question a lot, and I've got a few tips & approaches you can try out that can help you take some steps in the right direction, and before you know it, you'll be at the mason jar level too!
Examine Your Trash
This is the best place to start. You can literally go through your trash can, but if yours is too gross for that, then start by intentionally paying attention to what you throw "away." Before it hits the bin, look at the item and ask yourself a few questions.
Why am I throwing this out?
Do I REALLY need to use this item in my life?
Is there a reusable option I can adopt instead?
Slowly but surely, you'll start to pick away at each of the items you regularly throw out.
Why & When
After observing your trash habits for a little while, you might notice that you throw "away" plastic utensils a lot, and you're wondering how you can stop doing that. Ask yourself Why & When do I use plastic forks? You might answer...
At work for take-out // delivery lunches // lunch presentations
At fast-food restaurants
At home when I don't feel like doing the dishes
At parties & events like friend's cook-outs, brunches, baby showers, etc.
Why you are using a plastic fork is pretty obvious - you need to eat and you aren't going to eat with your hands AND you don't have a reusable fork as an option, but the WHEN might not be AS obvious. Once you clue in on the when, you can start preparing yourself ahead of time before you enter those situations again.
So using the above examples, you can...
Start making your own lunch to avoid the plastic utensils
Keep a set of reusable utensils in your desk, car and // or purse
Stop buying plastic utensils so that using them at home is no longer an option
Bring a set of reusable utensils with you to events
Identifying WHEN trash comes into your path, is crucial to stopping it before it happens!
Now that you've become aware of your trashy habits and identified Why & When the trash in your life shows up - you're in research & action mode!
Whenever you come across an item that you throw away and you want to find a more sustainable, eco-friendly, reusable option for it, just Google "What's the Zero-Waste option for...?" and you'll come across all kinds of answers and solutions you can begin to implement!
This is what I did for A LOT of things. I also read Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson and it was and is an incredible resource for people getting started!
Don't get discouraged if you don't readily have THE BEST solution to a particular Zero-Waste problem at your disposal [poor choice of words haha.] For instance, if you notice you throw away produce stickers and you Google, "How can I avoid produce stickers?" or "What's the Zero-Waste option for produce stickers?" You might get "Farmer's Market or Grow Your Own Food" as your answer.
But what if you live in an apartment building and don't have land to grow your own food? What if you don't have a Farmer's Market where you live? If that's the case, then some alternatives might be to...
Grow some herbs or veggies in pots in a windowsill as your "Garden"
Ask your grocery store to switch to using paper produce stickers [better for the environment even if you can't compost them yourself]
These solutions may not be THE BEST top-notch Zero-Waste solutions, but they are still improvements. It's important to do what you can, given the resources you have access to. Mad about how little resources you have?
While you're on the journey, you'll start to come against roadblocks that prevent you from reducing your waste in a myriad of ways - all depending on what resources you have access to.
If you don't have a Farmer's Market, what would it take to start one? If you don't have access to commercial composting can you start one? If you're angry about your city's lack of attention to creating more environmentally sustainable resources, can you rally and run for office?
When you come up against an issue and you wish there was a solution - maybe you're the person who is meant to provide that solution!
I hope these first steps help you out! Remember, it's awesome to work towards drastic goals like getting your trash to fit in a jar, but you can't get there if you don't start.
Start small and go from there - and remember, if you have any questions, reach out to me or comment below - I'd love to help you out!
Love & Blessings,