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The Minimal and Zero Waste Lifestyle

It’s no secret that we are facing a serious environmental crisis in our world today. Our Earth is slowly deteriorating, and it’s extremely crucial to make any movements we can towards reversing this dilemma. One huge factor that contributes to the harm we’ve caused to the environment is the trash and pollution we cause as a human race. Sometimes it is hard to think about it or even believe it, but every little choice we make in order to reduce waste makes a difference in our planet’s future. In order to really reduce waste, looking into a zero or minimal waste lifestyle would be immensely beneficial. I know it might sound intimidating trying to live a minimal waste lifestyle, but with patience and baby steps it can be really helpful. In addition to assisting our planet, a minimal waste lifestyle promotes healthier life choices and saves money (and who doesn’t want that).

The first thing to realize when adopting minimal waste practices is to asses why you want to pursue it and self-reflect on how much waste you already produce as an individual. It can be shocking when you really think about all the waste you produce in your everyday life ranging from your morning coffee to the receipts you get from making small purchases. When it comes down to it, you produce much more waste than you give yourself credit for because sometimes we don’t even realize our everyday products (like shampoo bottles, toothpaste containers, or toothbrushes) eventually become waste.

After you’ve realized how much waste you really produce, it’s time to start taking action. The easiest first step is to eliminate all the single-use products you generally use in your everyday life. For example, if you usually reach for a plastic water bottle or buy something when you’re out and about, double think and start using a reusable water bottle (don’t try to tell me you don’t have one, everyone has one somewhere). Another one you’ve probably heard time and time again is to avoid using plastic straws. Single use plastics are not helpful to the environment at all, so try investing in a metal or even rubber straw if you really insist on using a straw. 

Once you start to eliminate all the single-use items and waste from your everyday lifestyle, you can start thinking about how to put to use the items you already have around your house. You don’t have to go out and buy all new items to be waste-free. You can utilize the items you already have lying around and turn them into something useful. For example, old jam jars, mason jars, or marinara sauce jars can be reused for storing dry foods such as pastas or rice. Those jars can also be used to store sauces or anything else bought from bulk refill stores. You can turn old t-shirts into produce bags or wraps for when you go to the grocery store. Another idea for common household items is reusing the shampoo bottles you already have to store new shampoo or other bath products from bulk refill stores. 

I’ve probably scared you with the term ‘bulk refill stores,’ and you probably have no idea what I’m talking about (to be honest I didn’t know what they were until I looked them up), but they’re nothing to fear. Bulk refill stores are the key to eliminating pre-packaged and processed foods from your diet while also eliminating the waste they cause. These refill stores sell goods in bulk and all you have to do is bring your own containers. They carry most dry food products along with snacks, spices, personal hygiene products, and household cleaning supplies. There are many different kinds of stores that sell items in bulk, meaning that some specialize in just food or just hygiene products. If there aren’t bulk refill stores near you, most grocery stores like Sprouts or Whole Foods have bulk options as well. Additionally, by buying your food in bulk and avoiding pre-packaged foods (single-use plastic), you are making healthier food choices. You’re saving the environment, saving money by not paying extra for pre-packaged foods, and you’re eating healthier! 

I hope these tips inspired you to look into adopting some minimal waste lifestyle practices or living zero waste completely. I know it can be a huge lifestyle change but it’s worth trying for yourself and the future of our planet. 

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Sophomore at the University of Utah!
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