Zero Waste Week

September 4-8th is Zero Waste Week! Here are some daily tips to help you start the Zero Waste lifestyle. Consider it a plastic detox!

Day 1 is a total no-brainer: stop buying single use plastic bottles!

▫️ 80% of ALL plastic water bottles end up in landfills. The remaining 20% get downcycled.

▫️Just because it’s BPA free, doesn’t mean it’s safe. PET bottles (the most common water bottle) contains antimony, a metalloid used in batteries, and in small doses causes dizziness and depression. In large doses, antimony can cause nausea, vomiting and even death.

▫️Purchasing 1 reusable bottle saves the average American $90-200 a year, and will keep thousands of single use plastic bottles out of landfills.

 

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Day 2 of Zero Waste Week and we’re keeping the plastic detox trend going with B.Y.O.B (Bring Your Own Bag). In many cities, even some countries, plastic bags have been banned all together. Hurray!

If you’re crafty, you can make adorable grocery bags out of old sheets or pillow cases. I’ve always had an accumulation of reusable grocery bags in my collection, they seem attach themselves to me the way free pens used to. Which is great, I leave some in my car, my purse, by my front door…. So they’re easily accessible and I don’t forget them at home!

Now take it a step further, and use smaller reusable bags for your produce and bulk items. Those thin, single use plastic produce bags are toxic and not recyclable in most municipalities.

Now sit down for this one. If the average shopper brings home 5-15 plastic bags per grocery trip, stuffed with 5-20 produce bags, how much are they accumulating in a year? That’s just one person. Every year, 500 billion (that’s 500,000,000,000) plastic bags are discarded worldwide. It’s a simple item to cross off our polluter list by simply bringing our own bags to the store.

 

Day 3: EVERY single day, more than 100 million pieces of plastic utensils are thrown away in the United States alone. And just like straws, they are not recyclable. With so many other options, including edible plant based cutlery to decomposing starch based cutlery, there’s really no reason we should be using plastic anymore anyway. Take it a step further by bringing your own reusable set! You can easily bring an extra set from home or get an awesome bamboo set for traveling. I bring mine with me everywhere! Wrap them in a cloth towel that doubles as a napkin and you’re good to go!
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Day 4:  Our addiction to caffeine and convenience has had a devastating impact our environment. Growing up in Boston, I went to #DunkinDonuts almost daily in high school. When they opened a store in Daly City last year, I was horrified to see they were serving hot drinks in styrofoam cups – super dangerous. Then I had the anagnorisis that I had been drinking my DnD’s out of stryofoam for most of my adolescent life. 😅😵

This was when I had to swear off the company entirely until they make some serious changes. How many plastic stir straws, lids and cup holders are in landfills now because of designer coffee? How much styrofoam? And what about all those paper cups that never made it to the compost, and are sitting in landfills, not exposed to oxygen and not biodegrading.

This could all be solved in two ways: slow the flip down and enjoy your coffee at the cafe, like the rest of the world does. Or bring your own mug or bottle and take it to go. You can’t use your own mug when you use the Starbucks app and pre-order. Why are we in so much of a hurry, yet have time to park and go into a cafe to grab a drink? Invest in a pre-loved coffee maker, or even better, get an French press. You can pre-set your coffee maker to start brewing so it’s ready for you when you head out the door. You don’t have to stop anywhere else on your way to work to get caffeinated. If that doesn’t sound ideal….the not waiting in line, the not paying $6 for a small beverage, the not parking in some chaotic lot at 8am… there’s a word for you. Sociopath. Haha, just kidding. But those disposable cups are just handheld labels. And labels are dangerous things.

Day 5!! Now let’s talk paper. Paper towels were easily replaced with cotton washcloths, cut up bath towels, and old fabrics turned into rags. Easy.

But what about toilet paper? Sure you can get 100% post consumer recycled toilet paper, but what about all the plastic it’s wrapped in? Even if you buy in bulk at the grocery stores, it’s wrapped in plastic. My first solution was to find paper wrapped toilet paper in a restaurant bathroom near your house and ask them where they get their supply from. Restaurant supply stores usually sell toilet paper wrapped in paper shipped in cardboard. But this isn’t easy, especially if you have social anxiety. And picking up one box from one store monthly is sort of a pain in the butt.

Enter Who Gives A Crap, who use the same post consumer recycled paper mentioned above, and ship it right to your door. Pretty reasonably priced too. They ship within the U.S., Australia and probably other countries too. Now that I’m moving 2 hours from my old supplier, I will definitely be ordering from WGaC from now on. Who gives a crap? We give a crap!!!

Day 6 on #ZeroWasteWeek and apparently I’ve turned into Dr. Seuss. It’s great seeing customers in line at the grocery store packing their items in their reusable bags. But when the conveyer belt is lined with vegetables stuffed in plastic produce bags, I feel like they’re missing the big picture. The plastic bag ban isn’t for stores to make a quarter when you forget to bring your bag. It’s to implement the idea that single use plastic is harmful. A lot of stores get around this by selling thicker plastic bags (wtf??) claiming they’re now reusable. But if your cotton grocery tote is full of plastic produce bags, that’s still adding to the problem and not contributing to the solution.

A lot of stores sell these cotton bags ready to be filled. Fillgood.co delivers them in the Bay Area. But if you have some unused fabric, it’s very easy to make your own! Even without a sewing machine. Just YouTube search “make your own produce bag.” YouTube can be a great DIY source. I taught myself statistics by watching YouTube videos. Serious.

Last day of #ZeroWasteWeek and wooooo what a week it was. Going out to eat is a convenience, but bringing your food home is a concept pretty much unique to America. They don’t offer to-go boxes at restaurants in most other countries. But in America, portion size is often askew and there are generally left overs at the end of a meal here. So instead of wasting the food or hoping the business takes care of composting, take the food to go in your own containers. Finish it later or ensure that it makes it to the compost bin at home.
Now, you don’t need to run out and buy a $20 metal bento box kit, as cute as they are. Any reusable containers will do! Compostable paper take away boxes are still more ideal than plastic or styrofoam, but the best solution is to bring your own container so there’s no packaging waste at all! I hope you enjoyed #ZeroWasteWeek2017 and keep the suggestions alive all year.

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