Lessons from a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Earlier this month, Andrea from Be Zero took over the GladRags Instagram to show us what it’s like to live a zero-waste lifestyle. Here’s what she had to say…

Zero waste isn’t just a story about trash, it’s a story about what we collectively value. Putting value back into our things, resources, community, planet, and each other! It means generating simplicity, moving from disposables to reusables, and acting on our consumer and community power.

zero waste essentials

Just say no to single-use plastics. Choose durable, reusable items that last and prevent unwanted waste. The average American produces around 4.5 pounds of trash per day. Much of the waste that is produced comes from single-use disposable plastics. Plastic bottles/cups, utensils, containers, straws, and sandwich bags to name a few. Think about what your day will look like and plan from there. Make small swaps and slowly change your habits.

reusable straws

One of the easiest ways to avoid unnecessary waste when eating/drinking out is to refuse. Examples: Ask for your food “for here” if you know you are staying. Ask for no straw in your drink. Have your own small light weight utensils in case there is only plastic ones. Keep a small mason jar to bring home leftovers. Start building the habit of refusing disposable plastics and enlighten others on plastic pollution too!

zero waste simplicity

Simplicity is key. Keeping it simple saves both time and money.  In your pantry, stock simple foods that serve many purposes. Snacks without packaging? Yes! There are so many! Cheaper too! First snow in Boulder means stovetop popcorn (in minutes)! I can buy a whole mason jar of corn for a couple of dollars. Cheaper, healthier, and way more fun to make!

zero waste snacks

In the bathroom, keep cosmetics to a minimum and use natural oils like olive oil and coconut oil for face and body, and cloth pads or a menstrual cup for menstruation. Simple. Easy. Extremely cost-effective as you rarely need to rebuy anything. Healthy. Remember, this stuff isn’t new at all–most of the world created very little waste just 80 years ago.

There is no such thing as perfect. Living a zero waste lifestyle will still mean you’ll make trash. Why? The term zero waste (or circular economy) is referring to an industrial model of design, manufacturing, consuming, and recovery in which the concept of waste doesn’t exist. It is not about buying nothing or producing nothing. It’s about carefully and intelligently designing products from the very beginning without waste as an end product. We live in a linear economy where we design products from the very start to be waste – to not be repaired, to go out of style, to break after a limited use, or to be tossed after one use.

In order to move towards a circular or zero waste economy, we need to use our consumer voices and live by example to make collective change. Do one thing each day and know that you are planting seeds of change. Don’t get caught up in word zero – that’s where we are trying to move towards not where we are right now.

andrea zero waste

It’s my passion to be able to inspire & educate others on how we can all rethink our trash and plastic footprint and live more simple and thoughtful lives. We are all in this together! I’ll leave you with a photo of a few of my favorite reusable swaps for single-use plastics. And remember, we may not be able to do all the things, but we can all do something!