I shot these photos five years ago in Venice Beach, and today I wouldn’t be able to take the same photos. My friend spent an afternoon this weekend clearing endless loads of trash off the shore and out of the water in this same spot. Luckily, after a day of her efforts, the beach was more clear for days.
We can make a big difference if we all do our part.
Even with recycling, we’re still wasting way more than the planet can contain.
In a gradual progression leading to a big awakening, I have found so many more ways to not contribute to the garbage pile and I am learning more every day.
You may have seen the awesome people who have created Zero Waste in the last few years. They are all my heroes and inspirations.
Low-Waste is not only increasingly easy to accomplish, it has inspired me creatively, it’s been a source of personal integrity, it’s helped me make healthier choices, and it is such a decision in favor of abundance!
Today, some of my easiest low-waste ways are here for you. If you have your own, I would LOVE to hear them, too!
The Green Living upgrades in my own life never end! As more reports about climate change, the warming of the oceans and the disappearance of various wildlife species pop up on my newsfeeds, I keep getting a flashback to a very strange class trip I took when I was in first or second grade in New Jersey.
There were no flashing environmental warnings back then, but I got mine during this trip to what I can only describe as a garbage dump.
It was a garbage dump.
I think we were meant to be educated about how recycling works, or why it was important, but for Secaucus, a city built on a swamp filled with truck yards and tons of outlet malls, it was a strange trip.
I remember cringing when I saw giant birds flying in and sitting on top of heaps of trash while we were told that this garbage would go to landfills.
“But… then what would happen to it in the landfill?!” I asked, some alarmed version of this, watching the birds swoop into other people’s garbage.
“It stays there.”
“But… what happens when we run out of room for garbage?”
No one could answer. I think a teacher mentioned that maybe one day there would be islands made of garbage. But, she said we could do more recycling and that could help.
I was horrified, and from that day forward was acutely aware of the need to recycle everything possible.
Only about eight months ago did I learn to do that more specifically and properly, much to my own surprise.
We’ll talk more about recycling soon. For now, some easy ways to participate in generating less waste.:
1. I totally stopped using straws.
If you love straws, when dining out, bring your own reusable glass or stainless steel straw, and tell your server you do not want a plastic straw in your drink. If you can do without straws completely, all the better.
I have been very confounded by “plant based straws” lately that I have seen popping up in heath food stores in Los Angeles, so I did some investigating. Most of these, FYI, are not as easily “compostable” as the label suggests. For instance, you cannot toss most of them into your compost pile. Many require special compost facilities to process them, and these are not plentiful in the USA. These are a big step in the right direction, but not a complete step. No straw is the best way!
2. Using a reusable bag for produce has been great. I always bring my actual reusable grocery bags, but the produce bags are a trick. I tried simply piling up the produce I wanted without a bag and having it weighed “bag free” at the checkout counter, but that isn’t always the easiest thing to manage if you’re like me and get a ton of produce.
Reusable produce bags are pretty nifty. These are ecofriendly, durable and washable.
(Even without special reusable bags, you can re-use most produce bags many times before recycling if they are recyclable.)
3. I said goodbye to even more fashion purchases. Fast fashion is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. Plus, it creates stress and clutter in our homes once the season or trend has passed. Consignment shops, apps like Thread Up and Poshmark, thrift stores and more can be a great way to vote with your dollars, steering away from fast fashion. You can also investigate the environmental practices of your favorite stores and see if they are worth shopping at!
4. I stopped getting beverages in single cans or single plastic bottles. Easy enough to do and it makes a big difference.
5. I got a great home water filter so that I dont need to purchase water in bottles. Bottles of water are stored for true earthquake-kit emergency purposes only in my house.
6. Carry a reusable water bottle if you don’t already. It’s so easy. You can also re-use a glass water bottle or even a mason jar as your re-fillable water bottle.
7. Bringing a mug from home is my new habit of choice. Bring your own travel coffee mug to coffee shops many take-out coffee cups are not recyclable, even if they’re made of paper. Inside, they’re lined with a plastic material so they can hold your coffee inside.
8. Increasingly now, I make my own cleaning products at home and use re-fillable spray bottles. Laundry detergent is one of the only pre-packaged cleaners I still buy. This is easy and effective. Vinegar, water, Castile soap… its all so easy and effective.
9. I get dried fruit, pasta, rice, nuts, and anything else I need as often as possible from bulk bins and fill refillable bags or containers. Tea is another big thing I love to buy in bulk, and I feel fortunate to have lots of herbs for tea available in my neighborhood.
10. Do not use disposable razors. Instead use razors with replacement blades. My final frontier on this one is getting a gorgeous safety razor. The reviews I’ve read have been tremendous!
11. I cook at home all the time now, more than ever… and when I eat out, I bring my own container to restaurants when getting food to-go.
12. It was easy to give up food that is in single-serving packages like gum, popsicles, and nutrition bars. I found easy ways to make my own Lara bars and granola (*way less expensive and more delicious) and I carry around a bottle of essential oils that are a blend of mint (*lie-changing: OraMD) in place of gum and mints.
13. I am a big NO on getting food delivered to my house. The packaging is never recyclable because of the food and oil residue. If you do order delivery to your house, you can request that they do not pack plastic utensils or napkins and you’ll use far less plastic.
14. When I’m packing up food or snacks to go somewhere, I use glass Tupperware. When packing lunches, use reusable snack and lunch bags plastic wrap is not recyclable.
15. I’ve found ways to re-fill and re-use packaging. Reuse plastic containers that berries and tomatoes are packed in. Sometimes Farmers Markets will refill them for you, or your local grocery store may take them for you to re-use.
16. I have officially run out of journal pages to write on and I’m running out for a new recycled paper sketchpad. I use both sides of each sheet of paper and try to by paper that is only made from recycled material.
17. I’m big on donating old clothes to charity. Now that I don’t shop much I have less to donate! You can sell them to second hand stores as often as you can. You can also use old clothes as rags for cleaning around your house, instead of paper towels, and wash them to re-use.
18. I stopped reaching for paper towels. This is a big deal. It was my greatest home waste: paper towels mindlessly used. Now, I have a pile of dis towels in the kitchen to use to dry dishes, wipe countertops and clean up messes. There’s almost never a reason to use a paper towel any more!
19. Some time back I cancelled magazine and newspaper subscriptions and started subscribing online. You can also ask people who send you catalogues and flyers to stop mailing.
20. I have upgraded the quality of all things I buy now so that they are long-lasting. Avoid purchasing anything that is disposable and opt to buy the more durable version of the item, even if it costs a bit more. When you see how these products hold up over time (like my 6 year old Vitamix blender that is like brand new) you’ll happy you did.
Simple stuff today, but even one strategy that hits home for you makes an enormous difference— elevating your connection to your days and your care for the planet all at once!!!
There’s so much more to come on this topic, I can’t wait to share it all!!
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