Growing up in a big house meant things added up quickly in our home. Everything was always multiplied by 6 (my parents, sisters, and I) or more if we had guest visiting or family living with us temporarily. Anytime my Mom or Dad could find things that were Free.99 they were on it like white on rice!
Starting a new journey can be overwhelming. There’s often pressure to fit into whatever look or vibe is the new thing you’re trying and the zerowaste/sustainability community is no different.
There are all these pretty pictures of stainless steel containers, beautiful reusable water bottles, cabinets filled with bulk food nicely labeled. It can be so easy to feel like in order to feel apart of the team you have to BUY. Of course everyone has to buy something eventually but not for- just because.
Like many of us will take advantage of Black Friday deals to get things we have been thinking about for a while. The difference is the sale should just be a bonus because we already wanted those items without the deal.
Even though some of us will buy items on Black Friday ( me included), you DO NOT always have to buy to be apart of the zerowaste/sustainability club. It’s a lot easier to be a part of than that! A lot of what you will do in the journey will actually have nothing to do with buying per se and everything to do with using your other abilities. For instance…
Just say no
This is the most important one that is also the easiest to forget at times. The power of “NO” is incredible! So much of my journey is just using the word “no”. No thank you I don’t want (you fill in the blank: plastic straw, bag, more water, etc). Sometimes it’s a decision shift to say no to fast fashion and yes to ethical fashion. My approach is to use my voice to avoid having to deal with things in the first place.
Bring your own items
Take a moment to go through your home and see what you have. Bring your own reusable bottle, mug, containers, utensil set, straw, and a reusable bag to Thanksgiving dinner or holiday parties. My utensil set and Swell water bottle are pretty much attached to my hip. It’s such a great starting place that can help you navigate the day and limit the waste you make.
Plan your day more
Planning is my jam but I know for some it’s like the awful taste of cherry medicine. However, so much of waste created day to day is from a lack of planning. Just like any goal, you need a plan in place to achieve it. Think about it, your friend invites you last minute to a food festival – so you use plastic utensils to eat instead of reusable ones. Planning doesn’t sound sexy but a little of strategizing can limit your waste like crazy and save you cash too.
Go paperless with everything
This is one I jumped on real quickly early on in my zerowaste journey. It was just too easy not too. Basically everything you have think of your WiFi, utility, credit/debit card bills, boarding passes, concert tickets, and coupon deals for the sales should all go electronic. This avoids having to recycle the paper in the first place.
Use what you have til you can’t anymore
It’s important to fight the urge. It will be like the worst mosquito bit driving you crazy to buy. Most of us don’t realize we already have useful things we are using in our daily life. Currently, I am working on finishing this shampoo before I buy a more eco-friendly option. It would be the ultimate waste to not finish something and get a new one because we want something “more zerowaste”. Doesn’t make sense, right?
Borrow/ Get things from others
Borrow things your need from family and friends especially things you need short term. Also attend exchange events like clothes swaps. This uses what you already have to get something “new” in return. Talk about a real deal! No situation is too big to borrow. For my wedding I borrowed my best friend’s veil. It was a great something borrowed and it’s something we will share together forever.
Have healthy conversations
Now this is where the magic happens! The one on one conversations with loved ones, friends, colleagues, etc. This is where the learning happens if minds are open and discussion about climate change, sustainability, and local activation occur. It’s also where people can get in heated conversations. So tread carefully but it’s also one of the most impactful ways to be zerowaste.
Fighting the urge to buy to belong can be hard. There’s this pressure to fit in and get matching cloths and mason jars. Sometimes you will have to buy things but buying things for the wrong reasons can lead down a slipper slope. These starting places mentioned above are to remind you all there are free ways to go zerowaste throughout your lifestyle.
I would love to hear other ideas you have on how to go zerowaste for free!