Whether you’ve been conscious of the sustainable living movement for a long time or are just beginning to make small changes, it can be helpful to have a reset every once in a while! I know as someone who has been making small low-waste changes over a long period of time, the process of zero-waste living can seem monotonous or even discouraging, especially when you don’t see the immediate effects of your efforts. Hopefully this article gives you the reset (or start) that you need, to see that adjusting your lifestyle to be more sustainable is a process that continually evolves.
Let’s start the reset by doing a trash audit. Basically, once your trash can is full, put some gloves on and sift through it to see what materials are being discarded! If you’re just starting to make more eco-swaps in your life, this is a good way to see what’s in your trash and if you can lessen the waste you are creating.
And, if you’ve been making eco-swaps for awhile now, this is a fantastic opportunity to see how far you’ve come from when you started! It’s also a good time to reset your sustainable home and see what environmental changes might’ve slipped your notice. Maybe it’s time to pursue that change you’ve been putting off, like switching to using less paper towels.
For example, when I first started to eliminate single-use plastic in my life I found toothpaste tubes, shampoo bottles, and razor heads in my trash. I’ve been able to slowly replace each of these items with a more sustainable alternative, like toothpaste tablets that I can buy in bulk, refillable shampoo bottles (I love the sweet pea shampoo scent at Refillism), and a plastic-free safety razor.
Right now, my trash can is full of boarding passes from traveling and bills from my bank. These are some pieces of trash that I can prevent in the future. Next time I travel, I’ll make a point to not print my boarding pass and use the digital version on my phone. As for the bills, I just need to contact my bank and opt out of receiving bills through the mail.
Pick a Room
Next, pick one room in your house to deep clean. This is a great way to let single-use items that could easily be replaced for a more sustainable option reveal themselves to you! While doing this it’s important to keep in mind the bigger picture – the point in living “zero-waste” is to lessen the waste we produce as humans so that we, in turn, impact our planet less.
Obviously the first step in a deep clean is to acquire cleaners. For me, I am still slowly introducing more eco-friendly cleaning practices into my daily life. This would mean if I chose to “zero-waste reset” my bathroom, I’d need to invest in some all-natural toilet cleaner.
It could also mean choosing to reset your laundry room and noticing the amount of lint your dryer produces, which could be prevented by line-drying more items. Or it could mean choosing your kitchen and deciding to invest in composting.
For this last section of the reset, you’re going to pick something to do that is out of your comfort zone! For me, this would mean investing in a couple of new sustainable products. I was able to purchase aloe gel from Refillism, knowing that it’s a product I’ve never invested in before but was willing to try. I also bought eco-friendly floss for the first time, which was something I’d been waiting to do until I used up the floss in plastic packaging that my dentist gave me.
Putting yourself out of your eco-comfort zone could also mean setting a goal like reading a book on an environmental topic like ethical shopping, getting your yard certified as a wildlife habitat, or having an eco-focused conversation with a friend who’s interested in becoming more sustainable.
While each of these steps takes time, it’s important to not become stagnant in the things we are passionate about, which can so often happen in our busy lives. Hopefully this eco-reset will help you to continue on living a zero-waste lifestyle with renewed focus and energy!
Certify Your Habitat. The National Wildlife Federation. https://www.nwf.org/Garden-For-Wildlife/Certify.aspx