How I Zero Waste: Financially
Updated: Feb 1, 2020
Here are my 8 tips on transitioning to becoming more zero waste and not break yourself financially in the process:
1. Don’t rush the transition, the ultimate goal of zero waste is changing your thought patterns on how you interact with both buying and using products. This does not happen over night, it takes a long time. It took me several months before I got to my current place in my ZW journey, and I am still not fully zero waste. I’ve accepted this will be a long journey.
2. Use the products you have, if you still have rolls of paper towels, plastic bags, and shampoo use them! Don’t let me go to waste just because you know there is a zero waste option out here, I got a shampoo bar as a gift two month ago, and only ran out of my shampoo, that came in a single use plastic bottle, last week! I have waited to use the shampoo bar specifically because I believe in using the items you have already purchased. No sense in wasting money already spent.
3. Figure out the items you throw away the most! Do a waste audit, you don’t have to actually go through the items you threw away like I did, but write down what you throw away on a piece of paper by your trash can or on you phone, you could snap a photo of the items you are throwing away to keep track as well. Focus on finding alternate products for these first.
4. Start with items you already have! If you find your self throwing away a ton of plastic water bottles, I bet you have a reusable one stashed somewhere! Assess the reusable items you already have to make the most of your money; there is no need to buy something new if you already have it!
5. Prepare for sticker shock! Zero waste websites initially seem crazy expensive. Actually they still seem kind of expensive, but… I remember seeing a plastic free stainless steel water bottle listed for $30 and laughing at how stupid that price was. After accessing the utility of this water bottle I now know that $30 is a decent price for a new item that I would be using every single day for at least the next three to ten years.
6. Don’t limit yourself to new items! I keep a list of the items I want for the house and pop into a thrift store weekly if not more, just to look and see if anything I need is there. I also put down how much I can realistically spend on this item. I use resell apps, and create an alert for the items I am looking for. I have been able to get several used items within my price range by bartering with people on apps like Offerup and Letgo. Buying used is the new “cool” thing to do! But, it really is cool because you are helping to curb consumerism and save the f**king plant.
7. Don’t spend outside your budget, when I was first starting I limited myself to spending about $15 on one zero waste item. Meaning when I wanted to buy produce bags I bought a cheaper polyester mesh product instead of the 100% organic cotton ones which cost twice as much. I knew I wanted to go zero waste, but I didn’t want to break my budget. I know later down the road I can buy the plastic free version, and my current produce bags will make a great ZW starter gift for someone!
8. Know that your efforts matter. If you are making a few zero waste changes, share your journey, let others know, and offer positive encouragement. Small changes by millions of people will change the world.