Going zero waste is not easy, and it definitely can sound intimidating. I am here to tell you it doesn’t need to be. The good news is every little bit helps, making a few small changes can make a big difference. It is so important for the health of our earth to take the time to at least try to help, we owe it to the earth for the beautiful home we have been provided. I also very much believe it is important to set an example for our youth that these things ARE important. It will continue to be more and more important as life goes on from generation to generation. Today I am going to share 14 ways you can start working towards a more environmentally friendly life today!
1. Figure out a great recycling system
First and most importantly you need to figure out how to properly recycle. This will eliminate a ton of waste immediately. This can be easy, or it can be very difficult depending on where you live and what options you have access to. Growing up I lived in Northeast Minneapolis and this made it quite easy for my parents to always make recycling a priority. We got a couple bins from the city, put paper bags in them, and poof we had a system. Fast forward to now, I live in the woods, and I’m not even sure if my city offers recycling. We don’t actually even use garbage pick up, we drop it all off ourselves. So, recycling is a bit more difficult. However we have figured it out.
First off, we donate our cans to the local scout troop. They have a drop off near our house so this is easy and a bonus feels great! I love the scouts! For the rest, plastic, glass, paper, etc., we drop it off when needed. I invested in a recycling bin that I really like and it provides an easy way to keep things sorted.
2. Make your own cleaners
There are a ton of ways to make your own cleaners. I am SUPER happy with the Young Living Essential Oil cleaners and they have made it SO EASY for me to make some big changes. If you are interested in joining Young Living click here to get started and feel free to contact me directly with any questions!
Ok, so there are two products I bought from Young Living that changed my cleaning game. First is the Thieves Household Cleaner and the second in the Thieves Laundry Soap. When you look at these on the website they seem very expensive. BUT, they go such a long ways if you use them right! The bottle of household cleaner you add one cap of cleaner to a glass spray bottle and then fill the rest with distilled water. So from ONE plastic bottle you get like 30 bottles of cleaner! The same goes for the laundry soap, you add a small amount with baking soda, washing soda, cleaner, and water and the one bottle ends up making a ton! It ends up coming out to about $3.70 per gallon and smells great, works great, and it cuts down on sooooooo many huge plastic laundry soap bottles. I am soooooo happy with both of these products and I feel better about what I am using around my children and what is touching their skin. Also, I can’t even remember the last I bought cleaner or laundry soap, it’s literally been over a year now… Which is awesome!
Below are links to the bottles I use to make my cleaners, and detergent.
Again please contact me with any questions about joining Young Living or about the specific recipes or cleaning products! =)
3. Start using wool dryer balls
Wool dryer balls are another really easy way to save a lot of waste and a lot of money. Once you have a set of wool dryer balls you will never have to buy dryer sheets again. I have a set of six that I use in my dryer and they have been great. Occasionally, I’ll still have a fleece blanket get a bit staticky, but overall they work great! I add a couple drops of essential oils to mine to make the laundry smell nice, but you don’t even need to do that. Just toss the balls in your dryer and whaaalaaa! That’s it! =)
4. Get some nice kitchen towels
Investing in some nice kitchen towels and setting up a cleaning method for them will save you from sooooo many paper towels! We still do buy paper towels, for certain things, cat puke mostly… HA! I try my best to choose cloth whenever I can though! I have a pile of towels that I fold and place in a small basket on my kitchen counter, when mine are dirty I just toss them directly into my basement to be washed. I have also seen where people have a small basket in their kitchen where they throw the dirtys. Once you have a system this works so well and really saves so much!
5. Use beeswax wrap
Beeswax wraps have almost eliminated the need for tin foil and plastic wrap at my house. They are really easy to use and clean. Basically they can be used to cover anything you want. I use them to cover leftovers in glass containers and it works great!
6. Have a nice set of glass containers for food storage
Invest in a nice set of glass containers for food storage, or use mason jars. This cuts down on buying plastic containers that you have to replace more often. Also, if you have one nice set you might not end up in as many lid searches 😉
7. Use produce bags
Produce bags are great and also cut down on the use of plastic bags. The hardest part about produce bags is remembering to bring them with when you go shopping! After that’s its easy!
8. Use reusable grocery bags
Much like reusable produce bags, don’t forget those reusable grocery bags. This is such an easy way to make a difference! Get it a habit of bringing them back out to your car after you unload.
9. Get some reusable straws
We LOVE our stainless steel straws at my house. I would love to just give up straws all together but there are certain drinks that I really prefer a straw with. Stainless steel is a great option, they also make them in silicon.
10. Invest in some great lunch boxes
Having nice lunch boxes is a great way to save on little plastic lunch baggies, or brown paper lunch bags. Get lunch boxes that have sections for different food, and a good seal so that food stays fresh. My kids love their Omie Boxes, they are nice because they can have hot food or cold food. There are a lot of options out there for nice lunch boxes and it is definitely something worth investing in.
11. Try bar shampoo/conditioner/body wash
A big way to eliminate a ton of plastic waste from your bathroom is to switch to shampoo and conditioner bars, and bar soap. Last fall I purchased a couple bars from my local farmers market and they are still around! Its crazy! They last so much longer then a bottle of shampoo and instead of a huge bottle to throw away you just have a small plastic or paper wrapper. I have been very happy with my bars, I didn’t expect the conditioner to work as well as it does. I can’t wait to get more when the markets open up. I recommend finding a local to buy soap and shampoos from, but if not they are available on amazon! =)
12. Shop thrift stores
Shopping thrift stores is a HUGE way to make a difference. Always try to buy second hand if you can. Of course this is difficult, but it really is worth it for your wallet and for the earth! This is something I could definitely be better at. I’ve found it’s so great for kids cloths and toys. Every time I go thrift shopping I am pumped and feel like I will always buy second hand. Then, I quickly fall back into my old ways! One of my friends from college has a blog, called “Less With Laurel” , she is a lover of shopping that is trying to go this entire year without buying new clothes. She talks a lot about fast fashion and has good recommendations on places you can shop second hand online. Check it out HERE.
13. Donate what you don’t need
If you don’t need something, donate it to someone who does. I love donating to the local women’s shelter in my town. I like this because I know my items are going to someone in need and that a big company isn’t profiting off it. It also makes it easier for me to choose to donate things when I know they are going to people who will be grateful. Another way to make it easier to give things up, is to give them to a friend. Its always fun to get clothes and sometimes it really hard to let go of nice pieces of your wardrobe, but you also know its time. This is the perfect time to pass it on to a friend. I have a friend who literally brings me a bag of clothes every time we hang out! ha! Its awesome! So if you have a friend around your size, think about giving them some things!
14. Reuse what you can – Be creative!
Whenever possible, reuse. You can reuse glass gars as food storage, cardboard boxes can become toy fire stations, paper bags make great wrapping paper, and old socks can become Barbie clothes, ha! Just be creative and think before you throw things away.
Start small, start slow, and figure out what changes you are comfortable making to start working towards a zero waste lifestyle. I am still learning and growing each season with goals in mind of being more of a zero waste household. We still have so much we could do. The above list is how we started, and so much of it has been so easy. Every little bit helps! I hope you enjoyed this list and got some ideas that you can implement in your own home! Thanks for reading and have an awesome Earth Day!