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Easy ways to adopt a Zero Waste mindset

As reported last week, a recent YouGov survey revealed that many individuals agree that climate change is real problem but are unwilling to make even small changes in their day to day life to decrease their own personal carbon footprint. It might seem like a daunting challenge to try and minimize one’s own environmental impact, or perhaps it’s just something we are too lazy to put into action. But there are a few small ways you can reduce your environmental footprint and employ a zero waste mindset in your daily life.

But first, what is zero waste?

Zero Waste is a trending movement where the goal is to reduce how much waste you bring home and create yourself. The zero waste movement doesn’t eradicate all waste from your life, but it provides ways to drastically reduce plastics and packaging materials. The most dedicated zero wasters often display the amount of trash they accumulate in a year fitting in a small mason jar.

If most people are unwilling to make even a small change in their day to day to help the environment, going zero waste may seem like a scale up Mount Everest. But don’t give up just yet. Here are few essential tips that may help change your mindset.

1. Know What Exactly You Are Getting Yourself Into

Are you going green, trying to be minimalist, hoping for a zero waste lifestyle, or just want to reduce your personal environmental footprint? Understanding exactly what zero waste means and how to incorporate it into your life is probably the best way to get started. Do some research and find out what will work for you.

2. Get Inspired

Watching a few video tutorials online, scrolling through Pinterest, and reading some great minimalist blogs might inspire you to get onboard. You’ll be able to see all sides of the spectrum, from those who have great beginner tips to those who are making their own conditioner.

3. Get Thrifty

One of the easiest ways to incorporate less waste in your life is to try thrift shops. By thrifting for clothes, essential home goods, and even furniture, you are immediately reducing the typical amount of packaging and waste, and keeping those items out of the landfill.

4. Start Small

Bringing your own canvas and reusable bags to the grocery store may sound great in theory, but often they stay crumpled up in your kitchen cabinets because you always forget them. Try moving them to your car and keep them there.

Also try bringing your own to-go mug to Starbucks or your favorite coffee shop. Many cafes often offer discounts for bringing your own cup, so it’s a double bonus.

You could even think about getting a french press for your morning coffee routine, as they don’t require any coffee filters and don’t take any longer than your average drip brews.

5. Bulk Up

Many of the foods and household items you use every day are available to purchase in bulk, and for a discounted price. You can even buy or make your own bulk food bags so you don’t have to use the plastic disposable bags available. Bulk is also a great way to get spices and baking supplies that you don’t often run out of, and being able to pick your own amounts is part of the draw.

The more advanced zero wasters can find ways to bulk up on liquids and oils, but just shopping at a bulk food store and grabbing a few things is a great way to get started.

6. Shop Local

Avoid the big chain grocery store and try your local farmer’s market. Not only will you be supporting local, often the produce is fresher and cheaper than anything you could get at your basic grocery store.

7. Compost (if possible)

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to compost. It can be easier in smaller towns and rural areas, so for urban apartment dwellers, composting may be an impossibility. Check out your city’s waste removal procedures, be familiar with recycling, and see if they offer composting bins. Minneapolis, Minnesota surprisingly has composting readily available for its residents, so it never hurts to check.

8. Jar out!

Mason jars are more than just trendy hipster cocktail glasses or canning accessories. The mason jar also serves as a zero waster or minimalist’s best friend. They can hold your bulk goods like spices and baking ingredients. You can use a mason jar for your favorite iced coffee or smoothie. You can find handy grab and go recipes with mason jars like overnight oats and take and shake layered salads. They are easy to wash, easy to label, and easy to reuse.

9. Small changes make a big impact

As much as some zero wasters would have us all making our own deodorant, composting, and not buying any new clothes for a year, the practicality and convenience of which are not always possible for everyone. By making even small changes, such as eating less meat, reducing waste and fuel consumption, and incorporating some healthier habits in our lives, we can minimize our environmental footprint.

At the end of the day, you have to do what will work for you and your schedule. These are just a few tips to get you started on your own zero waste path. Planet Earth will thank you for it.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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