Bea Johnson and her family refuse, reduce, reuse and as a last resort, they recycle. While zero waste living sounds extreme, the Johnson family makes it look very appealing.
What about a one month zero waste experiment? But then what would we do with all the stuff we already have, all the stuff waiting to be trash. If you’ve seen The Story of Stuff, you know how dreadful our consumption habit is.
How can we make changes that aren’t completely overwhelming, but really start to make a difference not only to our families, but to the world? Perhaps the answer isn’t a complete lifestyle makeover, but rather experimenting with one change at a time.
When I started to simplify my life, I didn’t do it all at once. I started with my diet, then attacked debt, and then came stuff. For me and my family, we need slow, deliberate change to make a habit stick. Becoming a zero waste family overnight is not an option for us, but we can experiment and see what works.
Simple steps towards zero waste
One room. If attempting a zero waste lifestyle is too much, what about a zero waste room.
Coffee cups. If you purchase coffee or tea outside of your home, consider bringing your own cup.
Water bottles. Remember when drinking bottled water was cool and healthy? That is so 2002. It’s time to stop buying bottled water and pack your own for the day. If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water, have it tested.
Glass Jars. Bring glass jars to the deli for meat and cheese.
Produce Bags. Instead of using a plastic bag every time you purchase an apple, use a hemp bag or other re-useable container.
Bulk Shampoo or refillable glass containers. As soon as I find a place that offers this service, I will give it a try.
Make your own household cleaners. There are plenty of recipes for homemade cleaners and laundry detergent. Have you tried any?
Compost. I don’t know anything about composting. In fact, I’ve never even tried it, but I plan to. Here are a few ways to get started.
Garden. Grow something.
I regularly recycle and live with less stuff, but I haven’t given enough thought to where my trash goes. This time last year, the thought of a 1/2 empty closet wasn’t even on my radar, but then a simple experiment in living with less, turned into a lifestyle.
With any experiment or new habit…
- Start slow. Yes you can overhaul your diet overnight and kill your clutter in a weekend, but radical change is often not as permanent as slow, deliberate change. (especially if you want to include the rest of your family)
- One at a time. There may be many things you want to change in your life, but pick one and give it your complete attention. That focus and determination will give you the power you need and your success will fuel the momentum for your next change.
- Celebrate Success. Change is hard. When you make a big lifestyle change and start noticing the benefits, celebrate.
When minimalist fashion Project 333 was first featured in mainstream media, reporters said it was an extreme way to live. I assure you it is not. In fact, I’ve never even used all 33 items during a 3 month period. I am sure that Bea Johnson will tell you that a zero waste lifestyle is not extreme. It’s different. But once you get used to different…it’s the same, only better.