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How to fit six months’ worth of rubbish into one jar … really


Erin Rhoads is a zero-waste hero. After working out how to live without plastics, she moved on to zero-waste living, which entails leaving as little rubbish behind as possible. And she’s keen to share her tips with Otter readers. 

Zero-waste living was a natural progression after I removed plastic from my day-to-day life. If you have started living plastic-free, you might find that your garbage was significantly reduced too.

Why I decided to go zero-waste:

  1. Recycling is not the solution. It’s a bandaid.
  2. We cannot keep expanding our landfill sites.
  3. I don’t want the next generation to deal with my trash. It’s my responsibility.

Much like a plastic-free life, to achieve a zero-waste life, shopping habits need to alter, like investing in items that can be reused.

The definition of living zero-waste is to divert 90 per cent of your own trash from landfill.

Trash is defined as items that go into everyday trash cans that the consumer believes cannot be recycled or reused.

The remaining 10 per cent accounts for the hard-to-avoid trash that can result, and many zero-wasters will keep this in jars or boxes to better understand their own trash footprint.

Read about my first six months of living zero waste.

I don’t think the term “zero waste” is a perfect description of this lifestyle, and some people get confused. Instead, I believe the label “zero waste” best describes someone who strives to send no trash to landfill.

I understand waste is created as a by-product of my day-to-day life, like heating my home or travelling. And as for things like conventional toilet paper, yes I do use it. There are zero-wasters out there who don’t, and choose to make their own reusable toilet paper; I am not quite ready for that (!!). I also dispose of things like condoms/wrappers to landfill and old medication (if needed) to appropriate drop-off locations for incineration.

Ten easy steps to creating less trash:

Check out the list below on alternatives for items that are typically thrown away. All of these ideas apply to living plastic-free too. If you have an item that you think needs to be added to the list, let me know via my blog, The Rogue Ginger

Make your own toothpaste or look for tooth-cleaning products in recyclable materials like Lush tooth tabs.

Purchase wooden toothbrushes, which can be composted, or reused for cleaning those hard-to-reach places. You can reuse the base of the toothbrush as a garden marker too.

Buy locally made blocks of soap instead of packaged bottle soap.

Invest in a safety razor.

Use soap for shaving and free your bathroom from another bottle cluttering your bathroom.

Try homemade makeup or go without.

Swap your dental floss for oil pulling.

Swap out your tampon and pads for reusable cups and cloth pads.

Make your own mouthwash.

Use washcloths made of natural fibres that can be composted.

Use natural plastic-free scrubs like lemon, sugar or bicarb, and ditch the microbeads.

Make a hair mask or face mask from ingredients you have, like yoghurt, honey or olive oil.

Try pure oils as moisturisers that come in glass or are refilled at your bulk store.

Buy your shampoo and conditioner in bulk, using reusable containers. Or try the no-poo method.

Learn to love your bulk store and don’t be afraid to request an item they don’t stock. 

Buy your food in bulk and buy your cleaning products in bulk using your own reusable containers.

Make your own cleaning products.

Compost, compost, compost. Reduce trash by composting rather than throwing out food.

Donate your old clothes.

Find a good tailor and shoe-repair store.

Buy second-hand items.

Rent movies and get a library membership.

This post was originally published on The Rogue Ginger. Photo via the same source. 

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