Is a zero waste kitchen really that scary?
I never thought I’d be the type of person to start eliminating disposable plastics from my kitchen. I cared about the earth and doing good, but I was no die-hard environmentalist. So it surprised me that when I moved into my own home for the first time, I was slowly replacing disposable items with reusable ones.
“Zero waste” is an intimidating concept. Of COURSE it is! We’ve been raised on one way of life, and we’ve grown to function using the tools most immediately available. So altering those habits on their own can be hard. But even more than that, the idea of “zero waste” is so be-all-end-all. It makes you feel like you need to go all-or-nothing.
Let me tell you – I didn’t start out thinking, “I’m going to go zero waste.”
I prefer the term “low waste” living: eliminating plastics, being more conscious of waste, and being forgiving if you are really in a pickle and use a disposable napkin. “Low-waste” means that we can do our best to eliminate plastics and single-use items, while acknowledging that no one is perfect!
Since I’ve started, and the steps I’ve taken to low-waste are aligned with habits I can easily change. I always encourage people to do something if they feel passionate about it—not just because they feel guilty about it. Positive emotions lead to positive results! When you’re ready and genuinely interested in a lifestyle change, each step will be so much easier. And hey, that may take time. You’re not going to wake up one day and say, “I LOVE THE EARTH SO I’M GOING TO MAGICALLY BECOME SUSTAINABLE!”
Here’s the low-down on how it really happened.
- Moved into my own house
- Saw how quickly I went through saran wrap, paper towels and plastic bags
- Didn’t want to throw away my money on disposables. I don’t have much money to start with!
- Started using my dishcloths instead of paper towels. They were dirtier, I went through more, but I found it surprisingly easy to switch.
- Researched saran wrap alternatives, found beeswax wraps. Thought I’d try them out (without high expectations). Loved them so much I never went back to Saran wrap. They’re so much sturdier, keep food fresh for so long, and less messy!
- Was sick of using multiple plastic bags for lunch in a day. Got some little glass containers and found reusable, waterproof fabric snack bags. Surprisingly easy to clean!
- My work has utensils. So I never use plastic there anyway!
- Realized that I’d already switched up so much (and was loving it) that I might as well switch over some of my hygiene habits.
- Bought a safety razor. Excited for the long-term financial savings here!
- Realized I was still throwing out one-use makeup removing cotton pads. Got irritated by it and found reusable organic hemp & cotton pads! Bought 7 that can rotate weekly and get thrown in the wash.
And that’s what happened over the last 10 months! The last few were very recent, so I’ll be slowing down a bit to get used to the hygiene changes. The thing is, if you go too fast, it’s hard to adjust!
I found it really effective to just listen to what I wanted to do naturally, and to not get caught up in extremist guilt. Instead, I really enjoy and celebrate every time I do take a step!
I hope the steps I went through can help you identify any areas you might be passionate about!
To be frank, I am not always zero-waste when I’m outside of the home. That’s the biggest step. I hate lugging around a billion things in a bag. Give me a tiny wallet and I’m good to go! (that’s the minimalist fighting the environmentalist in me). The good news is that plastic water bottles are in my past, and I’ve eliminated plastic straws. Now I’ve just got to get the cup commitment going when I can.
So I still have a little ways to go, but it’s always an evolving and ongoing process! Got tips on living sustainably outside the home? Pop them in the comments below!