5 Ways to Join the “No-waste” or “Low-waste” Movement
Although there have always been environmentalists who try to live their lives in a way that decreases their negative impact on the environment, this movement has been gaining more traction in recent times.
There are countless accounts on social media sharing ways to achieve this, an increasing demand for more sustainable options, and more and more stores that offer options like environmentally friendly alternatives and refillable products.
These are exciting times, and this movement offers a glimmer of hope in a still very “disposable” world. If you have been wanting to start living a more eco friendly or sustainable life, but aren’t sure how to start – we have 5 ways you can start!
Shop Local Whenever Possible
As consumers, we have seemingly endless options, whether in big box stores that offer “one stop shopping”, or online where anything you imagine can be purchased with the click of a button.
While the convenience of these options can be rather tempting for the person who doesn’t have a lot of extra time on their hands (and lets be honest, that probably describes most people these days!), convenience often comes with other hidden costs.
The goal with most online or box store retail giants, is to push out as much volume as possible, and get people to consume their products. Think quantity over quality. And because of the volumes they deal with, products are made for pennies on the dollar, and consumers get what appears to be a great deal.
You usually get what you pay for however, and cheap mass-produced products that don’t stand the test of time, need to be replaced more frequently. This is a win for the retail giants, but not so much for the consumer, OR the planet.
Local, smaller retailers are often willing and able to source and offer higher quality, smaller label products – which may have a higher price tag, but will often hold up better long term than cheaper, mass produced items.
It also cuts out the need for shipping, and the environmental impact that comes with that. Plus, you are then supporting local families and business, rather than filling the bottomless pockets of big box corporations.
Commit to Driving Personal Vehicles Less Often
These days most families seem to have a car, if not several, and while this is convenient, it comes with its own environmental impact (See a pattern here with convenience?). As a society we have become very accustomed to instant gratification, and this is no different with transportation.
People don’t seem to want to take the extra time required to use slower means of transportation (bicycle, walking), or waiting for mass transit options like the bus or the train. They have become accustomed to the convenience of hopping in a car whenever they want and going directly to the location they need to get to.
And while there are probably times where this becomes necessary, there are also many instances where it isn’t! You can start small by challenging yourself to walk to at least one closer appointment or destination, or choosing to take the time to plan out and use mass transit.
We live in a climate where we have very cold winters, and sometimes it’s much more convenient to hop into a warm car instead of trying to walk or wait outside for a bus. I totally get that! But it could be balanced out by choosing to park the car in the summer months and walk or bike to appointments and errands whenever possible in those warmer months.
When you do need to use a personal vehicle, your impact can be minimized by grouping errands by location. Like waiting until you have a few things that need to be done in that end of town. Or carpooling with a friend or coworker if you are headed in the same direction. There are even apps to find carpool buddies now!
Ditch the Plastic
The amount of plastics we use and then discard is alarming in modern times, and it is having an impact on our health as well as the environment. The convenience of having cheap containers that can be tossed out once empty, is coming with an enormous cost in other ways.
Plastics are known endocrine disrupters, and we don’t even fully know the impact on our health yet. It’s also a product that does not break down or bio-degrade – so when plastics end up in our landfills, they are often still there decades later.
The impact on our planet’s oceans and ocean life has also been staggering, with an estimated 8 million tons of plastic introduced into the ocean each year.
And worse yet, the ocean wildlife are swallowing these discarded plastics or becoming entangled in them. Some better alternatives, are using more durable long term options such as glass, or tinplate, and recycling them rather than discarding them. Using glass containers is also a wise decision for health, as glass is rather inert and not made up of numerous synthetic and harmful materials!
When shopping, bring reusable bags or bins, rather than opting for plastic bags. And choose products that use other materials than plastics – for example bamboo toothbrushes rather than conventional ones, or wooden toys rather than plastic ones.
Use Shampoo Bars or Other Eco-friendly Options
One trend that is having a positive impact on our environment, is the no waste movement – and one easy way to introduce this into your life, is choosing to use no waste shampoo bars – rather than traditional shampoo packaged in plastic bottles.
Shampoo bars are a convenient way to clean your hair, have natural alternatives that aren’t filled with toxic or potentially harmful chemicals, and are also great for travel! As with any personal care products though, ensure you are reading labels and choosing safer, non-toxic options.
Consumers today have access to safer choices for cleaners and personal care products, and can make choices that have a positive impact in a few different ways.
Firstly, using products that have safer and non-toxic ingredients, especially since many of the products we use end up in the environment or water supply. And secondly, by choosing products that have minimal, or recyclable packaging!
Shop at Your Local Refillery!
You might be asking yourself, what the heck is a refillery?!
Certain stores are able to provide bulk quantities of common personal care, food, or household items – and the coolest part? You can bring your own containers from home – eliminating the need for wasteful packaging!
Another bonus, is that these stores are usually small locally owned businesses, who focus on selling high quality small label products and eco-friendly alternatives to everyday products!
From stainless steel straws, to reusable silicone food covers, to a number of other alternatives to “single use” items – you can find many ways to further diminish your environmental impact!
There are many other ways to minimize our negative impact on the environment, but these are a few easy to implement steps to get started. Sometimes making that first step can be the most overwhelming, but once you start, and continue to make small changes – you will be well on your way to doing your part to protect our planet!