Reducing Waste: 8 Things to Ditch in 2020
Zero waste is about preserving the environment and living a more frugal lifestyle. While zero waste is a bit extreme for myself, I am really trying to reduce my individual waste as well as the waste my family produces. What is driving my personal change is mostly creating a different future for my kids’ generation, but I am also striving to buy less to save money and live more frugally.
There are things in life that we can live without – we need to reduce waste now before it’s too late. People, especially in first-world countries, have become accustomed to accumulating stuff, buying things that are convenient and easy to use. The problem is that what is convenient is often disposable… Moreover, the waste that we produce means we are spending more and more money on things that are fleeting.
Each year I have become more cognizant of what I am consuming and my carbon footprint. 2019 especially was a huge step in progress towards combatting climate and I cannot ignore certain wasteful habits that I have been ignorant towards.
So, here is a list of wasteful things I will be committing to ditching in 2020. The list is not exhaustive and I am certainly not perfect! But, maybe I can inspire others while with my own aspirations, maybe others can teach me a thing or two!
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8 Ways to Reduce Waste in 2020
1. Plastics Bags
I am usually good at bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but if I go shopping anywhere else, I always forget! I have a couple foldable bags that I am working towards always having in my purse (also my car and diaper bag!).
Another roadblock in reducing my consumption of plastic bags occurs when I order groceries online I always receive the items bagged. I read that you can request to not have any bags, which I will have to try on my next order (I plan to have a Rubbermaid tote accessible when they drop off).
2. Plastic Straws
I have stainless steel reusable straws at home, but since they are a bit bulky, I never think to put them in my purse. I recently bought a foldable stainless steel straw. Also, more and more restaurants are making lids that are usable without a straw, which is an even better alternative. Nevertheless, the ideal situation is to bring a reusable tumbler to the coffee shop, restaurant, work, etc. so you already have a straw and a cup!
3. Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles
I am a little apprehensive about converting to shampoo and conditioner bars, but I am going to at least try them out! I have looked online at lists of which brands are the best for the environment and for your hair, and to be honest, I don’t really know the answer after reading what I have.
So, I am going to start somewhere safe and pick up a shampoo bar from Lush this week. Lush is manufactured in my hometown (Vancouver) and they do their part for minimizing waste in their products. The one thing I am sceptical about with Lush’s shampoo bars is they contain SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), which is something I usually try to avoid. Nevertheless, I will start here and hopefully transition into a more natural option (please give me advice if you have used a shampoo bar with success!).
4. Bottled Soaps
Along the same line as shampoo and conditioner bottles, soap bottles are a huge waste of plastic. I buy the bulk refills for my dish soap, which do come in a plastic bottle, but it is less plastic overall since its worth at least 3 refills.
As far as hand soap, I was using the disposable pumps, since they are easier for my kids. Again, it goes back to convenience. I need to teach my kids that convenient is not always better, so I am bringing back the soap dish in the bathroom (we had one in storage from who knows when?!).
5. Fast fashion
What is fastfashion? It is the trendy over-produced clothing that is low quality and not meant to last. The idea that billions of clothing pieces are produced every year and many discarded within the same year is an eye-opener, to say the least! Apart from the high number of clothing produced, the production of these items is estimated to contribute to at least 10% of all of humanity’s carbon emissions.
So what is the opposite of fast fashion? I think the answer is to buy less, buy used, and buy sustainable clothing. As I get older, I realize I don’t need to be “fashionable”, I would rather be timeless. I rather buy clothing that I can wear for 5 years plus and that is good enough quality to last as well as still be acceptable to wear 5 years down the road.
Some sustainable brands to consider: Frank and Oak, Everlane, Madewell, Levi’s, tentree, Alternative Apparel.
Or buy used which is even more affordable and sustainable!
6. Single-use Plastics
The list of single-use plastics is huge – water bottles, take out containers, plastic plates and cutlery, coffee cups, plastic bags, food packaging, cling wrap, and so on.
I rarely buy bottled water as I have a water bottle at work, but I really do need to work on my takeout packaging. In my previous posts I have mentioned that my family does get a lot of takeout, which is a huge burden on our budget. But, it is also a burden on the environment and I need to cut the takeout for both reasons!
But realistically, I will be getting takeout from time to time, so how can I reduce waste when I do? Well, I can say no to a straw, a bag, and cutlery, but unless you show up with a container and order after the fact, your food will be served in a takeout container. The very least I can do in this scenario is bring home the container to recycle – not a perfect method, but it is better than tossing it in the garbage!
Also, in efforts to buy less takeout at work, I am beginning to meal prep more, and I have started to limit my lunches out to once a week. Not an easy task for me, but I need to try as it is hurting my budget!
I know this one isn’t for everyone, but the waste that tampons and pads creates is something that I am definitely aware of. This month I am going to try out the menstrual cup, and after the recommendation from my sister, I bought the Diva Cup. These reusable silicone cups last at least a year (some reports say up to 10 years!, so priced at approximately $40 CAD, a menstrual cup is also a cost saving alternative to the traditional tampons and pads (which are an estimated $65.82 according to this report).
8. Shop Bulk Whenever Possible
The idea of shopping bulk is not necessarily zero waste, but it does minimize the amount of plastic you consume. For example, I always buy the bulk laundry detergent from Costco, so instead of 3 plastic jugs, I use one. I also buy baking items (flour, sugar, nuts, etc.) in bulk which reduces the amount of packaging as well as reduces the overall cost of an item.
It is important to be mindful when buying bulk as if you don’t use the entire item before it expires, it is not cost effective. I suggest buying bulk on items that you use on a regular basis and you know you can make use of them!
I will be sure to update on how my progress is going in my effort to reduce waste in my life! Please comment below with your ideas to reduce waste and what works best for you!
Interested in saving money in 2020? Check out my recent post 10 Budget Saving Tips for 2020.