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Ashley Atkinson
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Trash-Trimming Tips for Zero Waste Living

Aim for less waste and achieve more eco-friendly habits.

Size Up Your Impact

Now spreading across the globe and social media, zero waste is a movement focused on restructuring resource life cycles so that all products are reused and no trash is sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. Zero wasters aim to reduce and reuse so well that they rarely recycle, let alone trash, their items. While true zero waste may seem extreme and unachievable, anyone can adopt a more eco-conscious lifestyle by asking themselves the following four zero waste-inspired questions when they shop.

  1. Do I really need this?
    We often buy things because they’re the hot new item, but many things end up in landfills when they’re no longer popular. When making a new purchase, be honest with yourself about how much use you’ll get out of it. If it’s likely headed for the garbage heap within a year, pass on that item.
  2. Do I already have something similar?
    Many items we buy aren’t too different from things we already own. Product marketers hope that we won’t notice. When considering a purchase, ask yourself if this is something that you truly don’t have already. You can only use one thing at a time and one of most items is enough.
  3. Can I get this secondhand?
    According to PBS, Americans throw away 13 million tons of clothing per year. Most items wind up in landfills — even if you donate them. You can help reduce this kind of   waste by buying items secondhand, either at local thrift stores or by using an online service like Poshmark or ThredUP. You may even find never-worn items at a fraction of the retail price — a win for your wallet and the planet.
  4. Is this recyclable?
    Many items just aren’t recyclable. Cosmetic and personal care products like makeup and skincare are packaged with multiple kinds of plastic, which makes them difficult to recycle. Instead, choose items that are package-free or packaged in sustainable materials like paper, cardboard or compostable vegetable cellulose.

Waste Reduction Reading

  • Can Your Outfit Change the World? by Erinne Paisley
  • This book looks at how and where clothes are made, how the people who make the clothes are treated and how the companies who sell the clothes affect the health of our planet. Armed with this information, you can follow the book’s guide to spending your fashion dollars in a responsible and eco-friendly way. Your outfits have more power than you might realize!
  • The Zero Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less by Amy Korst
  • A practical guide to generating less waste, this book features meaningful and achievable strategies from the blogger behind The Green Garbage Project, a yearlong experiment in living garbage-free.
  • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes
  • Trash is America’s largest export. Individually, we make 64 tons during a lifetime. This book reveals what this world of trash looks like, how we got here and what some families, communities and other countries are doing to find a way back from a world of waste.
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