‘Zero waste’ can sound intimidating and unattainable. But you don’t have to fit a year’s worth of trash into a small jar or pledge to never throw anything away for the rest of your life to call yourself a zero-waster. “This lifestyle can seem overwhelming because of the word ‘zero.’ Zero is terrifying. No one can do that,” says Kathryn Kellogg, who created the blog Going Zero Waste. “But it’s really a whole bunch of tiny steps that add up to massive impacts. My advice would be just to pick one thing to start and do it.”
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In addition to helping to chip away at the 258 million tons of trash that Americans produce every year, a waste-less approach to life will have the added bonus of some immediate personal benefits. The first place you’ll probably feel it is in your wallet: Kellogg estimates that she saved about $12,000 over two and a half years by no longer buying single use products, like paper napkins and aluminum foil, and packaged convenience food.
And cutting out all those products means shorter shopping lists. “You really have no idea how much time you spend shopping and working to buy more stuff,” said Kellogg. “When you cut all of that extra stuff out of your life, you have a lot more time and freedom to do what you want to do.”
Plus, ditching packaged processed foods is definitely going to have a positive impact on your health. Celia Ristow, the blogger behind Litterless, says that cutting out packaged food definitely improved her diet by forcing her to eat whole foods and seasonal produce. You’ll eat more whole ingredients and less sugar and sodium, too, and you’ll also likely reduce your chemical exposure by consuming fewer foods wrapped in plastic and other disposable packaging. Win!
Ready to start becoming a zero waster yourself? Here are some tips to help you incorporate zero waste habits into your life so that you can lessen your personal impact on the environment, save money, and be a healthier person.