Trying to Be Waste Free For a Year

Everyone needs to be aware about the importance of limiting their waste. I personally have some ways that I lowered my waste accumulation. It has been about a year since I started my journey to create less waste and more specifically plastic waste. Once you start to think about the waste that you accumulate, you see it everywhere. 

The first steps I took included changing my hygiene products and I’ve noticed a few things immediately, most importantly, smell. 

 

I use natural deodorant and so far I’ve tried two kinds, one that came in a reusable jar and one that was a normal push up deodorant but in a biodegradable cardboard like container. 

  • Pros - Both deodorants lasted me months longer than normal deodorants

  • Cons - they aren’t as pretty smelling as fragrance deodorants and may need to be applied more than once a day

    • There is also an adjustment period because typical deodorants clog your pores and prevent sweating while natural products allow you to sweat. There are things you can do to unclog your pores and speed up the process including using witch hazel or a toner

 

I’ve also started using bar soap that comes in biodegradable, or no packaging at all. 

  • Pros - Many local companies make their own soap so you can support local businesses

  • Cons - There can be extra costs included in this step if you want soap lifts to make your soap last longer or travel containers

    • Natural Soaps also contain less chemicals leaving them less lathery, to people that are used to lots of bubbles there can be an adjustment period or product can be overused lowering how long it will last

    • Natural fragrances like above can also have an adjustment period, but there’s a greater diversity in smells for soaps 

I’ve also changed some factors of my beauty routine, the first being the use of reusable cotton pads. 

  • Pros - I save a ton of money, although a dollar or two for cotton pads every week or two doesn't seem like a lot, anything less that I have to buy regularly adds up.

  • Cons - forgetting to put them in the washer when I do laundry and having nothing to wash them with along with having to deep clean them occasionally.

 

The most cost effective hygiene change I’ve made is using a menstrual cup. 

  • Pros - leak less than tampons for heavy periods, save TONS, never have to worry about forgetting to buy feminine products, can go almost all day without emptying

  • Cons - cleaning requires boiling to keep shape and kill bacteria [this can gross out family members or roommates] and using bathrooms without direct access to sinks to rinse cup can be messy. 

I’ve changed many of my typical habits when it comes to the kitchen as well. I save ALL of my jars or anything that food comes in that I can reuse later to avoid creating waste and having to by plastic or other storage containers later. I also started using reusable shopping bags, the only con is forgetting them ...which I do often. I bring my own filter water bottle everywhere that I go, originally I thought I would lose or forget them but I actually adjusted pretty fast. 

  • Pros - I drink more water than every which is beneficial in many ways and save money by not buying drinks when I’m out

  • Cons - ONLY drinking water (every once in awhile I cave and buy bottled soda or tea)

I also started buying more natural food because they don’t come in as much packaging as processed foods. 

  • Pros - I eat much healthier now than I did before 

  • Cons - some of these foods can be more expensive, but I believe the savings I make in other categories evens this out

While this may not seem like a lot, I’ve cut the amount of ways that I create waste and learn new ways everyday. Overall, I think that the impact is important and the first big step is taking little steps. I found that when I first started I was really hard on myself. When I would go to restaurants or order takeout and they would give me drinks with straws already in them or food in styrofoam containers I would feel super guilty because that was waste I was creating. Eventually, at restaurants I went to a lot I learned to ask for no plastic, and most restaurants would happily do so. I started using a grocery store that offers paper bags instead of plastic so if I do forget my bags they have a less impact option to plastic also. 

The biggest thing I learned is that it's HARD to live waste free or low impact in a world where everyone else isn’t doing the same. I find it important to educate people when they’re interested (while not pressuring or making anyone feel guilty) and to just take it one day at a time and make the changes that I can when I can. Some days are better than others, but every day counts and makes a change no matter how big or small. 

HXCO,

Cassidy