Millennials love lists, according to my friend Julie, and she requested I put this list together.
This list is not going to tell you to use a refillable water bottle and reusable bags. Those things are on pretty much every list about going green, but come on, we can do better than that.
So I present to you:
#1 Choose Quality
In life these days, we are inundated with cheap, cheap crap (and by crap I usually mean plastic) on Amazon, in the line at the store, and basically everywhere. We are enticed by the price, make a purchase, and within some short amount of time, that piece of crap breaks or gets worn out.
Into the landfill, it goes, where it will exist until, well forever.
We can avoid this by choosing more quality pieces when we make a purchase. When going for quality there are a number of things you want to look out for:
- What is it made from? Choose materials that are known for their longevity like stainless steel or solid wood.
- Who made it? A local craftsman puts time and hard work into their products.
- What is the guarantee? Look for companies that have lifetime guarantees and will take back or fix your purchases.
- Price? Yes, upfront it may cost more, but in the long run, it is something you will not have to replace.
Resources for making quality purchases:
- Waste Not Want Not- Registering for Things that Will Last
- Buy Me Once
- Life Without Plastic
- Tiny Yellow Bungalow
#2 Your Lunch
First of all, don’t buy lunch.
Bring your own. Yes, pack up your lunch in the morning or the night before and bring it to work. I do it every single day.
But everything you bring doesn’t need to be destined for a Ziploc bag tossed in the trash. Make some investments (or go secondhand or use what you already have) in reusable pieces that you can pack your meal in every day.
Resources for a less wasteful lunch:
- Waste Not Want Not- How I Pack My Lunch
- The Zero Waste Chef- 10 Tips for Packing a Zero Waste Lunch
- Going Zero Waste- How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch
- Trash is for Tossers- How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch
- Litterless- Packing a Zero Waste Lunch
#3 Say No/Don’t Take Stuff You Don’t Need
This one is really easy, but also really hard at the same time. Sometimes it is difficult to say no to people, but a simple “No, thank you,” should suffice in most situations when you are offered useless (but sometimes useful) stuff.
You are not required to take anything from anyone. If you have no use for something, just don’t take it. Don’t feel obligated in any way.
Here are some common situations where you can be offered stuff you don’t necessarily want:
- Dentist (You can accept another roll of floss when you finish the one from 3 years ago)
- Conferences (water bottles, magnets, pens, notepads, etc.)
- Races (shirts, water bottles, drawstring bags, etc.)
- Generic events (tote bags, glasses, hats, pens, etc.)
- Sporting events (magnets, calendars, t-shirts, bobbleheads, etc.)
ALL of those things are the first to go when you declutter. You know I am right.
Resources to say no:
- The PennyHoarder- Why I Stopped Accepting Free Stuff and Why You Should, Too
- Becoming Minimalist- The Problem with Free
- Be More with Less- Free Stuff is Still Stuff
#4 The Bathroom/Beauty Routine
Bathrooms can be a haven for where body lotions go to die in the back of the cabinet.
The first step is to take stock of what you have versus what you actually use and need. From there, swap out disposables for reusable items.
Easy and not so scary swaps:
- Plastic disposable razor for a safety razor
- Cotton balls for washable cotton rounds
- Plastic toothbrush for a compostable toothbrush
- Plastic bottled body wash for bar soap
Resources for taking it a step further:
- Going Zero Waste- 15 Simple Swaps for a Zero Waste Bathroom
- The Beauty in Simple- My (Almost) Zero Waste Bathroom
- Treehugger- 5 Steps Toward Going Zero Waste in the Bathroom
#5 Limit Online Shopping
Yes, Amazon Prime is amazing, but everything you order on the world wide web comes with packaging, and usually, it is excessive packaging.
I for one would rather shop in a brick and mortar store where I can see the quality of an item, and I can touch it and feel it. When buying online, despite how many reviews you read, you aren’t quite sure what you are going to get when you open the overly packaged box.
One thing I try to do is see if an item I am looking for is available at a nearby store for pickup. When shopping online, a lot of clothing stores let you see if your item and size is available at specific locations. You can reserve it right then and there. No shipping involved.
- Going Zero Waste- Can You Shop Online and Be Zero Waste?
- Package Free Shop
- The Zero Waste Memoirs- Can You Shop Online and Be Zero Waste?