DAY 1 | what the heck am I thinking...
Welcome to my zero waste journal! I'm freaking out a little because this post means that I actually have to go through with this.
A zero waste lifestyle is exactly what it sounds like. It is a lifestyle centered around producing as little garbage as possible. If it can't be reused, recycled, or composted, then it goes to a landfill. Landfills are (insert girl-crossing-arms emoji) bad.
A fews weeks ago I found myself going down the rabbit hole that is YouTube, and I stubbled upon a MSNBC video of Lauren Singer. This girl has managed to fit three years worth of trash into one jar. ONE JAR. That video then led me to her TEDTalk , which then led me to Bea Johnson's TEDTalk... Rabbit hole.
Bea Johnson is a wife and mother of two teenage boys. Her family produces so little trash that it can fit into a single jar for the entire year. If this woman can do it, so can I. The way she maintains this sustainable lifestyle is by following 5 rules in order. She calls them the 5 R's and are to be used in the order below:
1. Refuse: Just saying no to the things I do not need. No plastic water bottles, no plastic bags. Oh, and no free stuff (I know... Free stuff is the BEST STUFF). It's no secret that we live in a consumer society. By accepting free things, typically packaged in plastic, I would be encouraging this unsustainable practice.
2. Reduce: Having less of the things I do need. Again, fighting this idea of consumerism. Do I really need 5 wooden spoons? Do I really need 15 pairs of shoes? This Wall Street Journal article says that studies have shown that most Americans only use 20% of their closets regularly. I am so guilty of this.
3. Reuse: No more disposable plastic bags for me. I love and use plastic sandwich and snack bags everyday. Yikes. In preparation for this challenge, I bought glass containers and mason jars to reuse instead of continuously throwing away plastic bags. And bonus! I'll be saving money by forgoing disposable items that I would have had to replace in a few weeks anyway. I'm all about saving money! Speaking of saving money, I'll also be doing that by purchasing some of my food from the bulk section of the store. I realize it's a little weird to bring your own jars and bags to the store, but honestly... who cares? Me. A little, but I'll get over it once I put that extra cash towards a sick vacation.
4. Recycle: So if I can't refuse it (chocolate), can't reduce it (chocolate), and can't reuse it (chocolate), then I will recycle. If I can't find chocolate in the bulk section or get it from the farmers market, then I'll make sure to buy it in packaging that can be recycled. Something I didn't realize until watching Bae Johnson's videos is that this lifestyle is not about recycling more; it's actually about recycling less. Buying an item and putting it into a reusable container is a lot more sustainable than buying something prepackage to recycle later.
5. Rot: Also known as composting. A lot of towns don't compost, sadly. Charleston has a number of restaurants that compost. I have contacted several of them (like a crazy person) asking if I could drop off my compostable items once a week or so. I haven't heard back from any of them yet. Maybe because I called them yesterday, but I will let you know what happens with that!
I could go on and on about this, but I'll stop here. This is not my attempt to persuade you to live this lifestyle. This is simply a form of sharing my experiences and keeping myself accountable. However, I would not be upset if it motivates you to bring your own bags to the grocery store.