My zero waste journey started four years ago when a friend and I were moving in together for the fall semester of undergraduate school. Intrigued by the concept, we challenged ourselves to eschew all plastic products, shop in bulk, compost our scraps, and buy exclusively secondhand clothing. It was a big endeavor, but it turned out that changing habits was the hardest part. And now, with four years of experience under my belt, I can honestly say this is one of the best lifestyle changes I’ve ever made.
While much of zero waste living appears to be about sacrificing (like packaged food, normal fashion, makeup, glitter and balloons even!), it feels a lot more like removing the unnecessary and excess rather than losing out on my life. Now, instead of going to H&M for a new outfit, I’ll check out Depop – an online thrift store – or I’ll invest in a piece from an ethical and sustainable fashion brand. Instead of buying tons of snacks and junk food, I’ll opt for fruit or nuts for a healthier whole food option.
There are so many things I’ve learned, and for regular blog posts about living a zero waste lifestyle, you can visit my blog here to follow my journey! While I’m here, I wanted to share some of the areas where I made the biggest changes in my life to cut down on packaging.
In the Kitchen
- For dried goods, I shop exclusively in bulk from places like Precycle or Bushwick Food Co-op, and bring my own reusable cloth bags and jars to the store with me
- When shopping for produce, I love visiting the farmer’s market and eating what each season brings
- Instead of simply recycling old glass jars, I’ll use them to store dried goods in my pantry
- I make a lot of my own things that could have been pre-packaged: non-dairy milk, tomato sauce, pesto, popcorn, and cookies when I’ve got a sweet tooth!
In the Bathroom
- I use a shampoo bar and a soap bar for washing. Instead of conditioner I use an apple cider vinegar rinse (made with 2 tbsp vinegar and 1 cup of water) that I pour over my hair. Alternatively, places like Plaine Products sells bathroom products in returnable metal containers
- I use a stainless steel razor instead of disposable ones
- For moisturizer, I use argan oil in a glass jar with a dropper. I also use hair oil in a glass jar when my hair is feeling dry!
- Body lotion either comes in a glass jar, or I’ll use coconut oil
- For face masks/self care, I’ll make my own using kitchen ingredients! However, I do have one from Fanciful Fox that I love. They’re based in Brooklyn and accept returned empty containers, which is awesome!
For the Closet
- I shop at thrift and vintage stores for my clothing; I also visit places like Depop, ThredUp and eBay for specific secondhand finds
- Opt for clothing in natural fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, wool, or leather
- For underwear, I’ll buy them new! I like Organic Basics, White Rabbit, Brook There, Hara the Label, and Pansy Co
- As a last resort, I’ll buy new ethical fashion – these are more expensive so they are pieces I know I’ll get a lot of good wear from! I’m a fan of Everlane, Zero Waste Daniel for cool tees, Sotela Co, and Curator SF!
When Going out
- I always bring a mason jar, reusable cutlery, cloth napkin, and a bag with me when I leave my apartment to cut down on waste!
- If you’re drinking, ask for no straw/drink umbrella/etc etc. Beer or wine is almost always a good option!
- Going out to eat? Use your mason jar to hold leftovers.
- Opt to eat at small local restaurants instead of chains. You vote with your dollar so vote for your neighbors and not big corporations ❤️
Want more resources? Check out my blog @sustainablesabs on Instagram, or my YouTube channel: Sustainable Sabs.