31 days to low waste

Your guide to becoming “Zero Waste” in 2021

31 days to low waste

We’re using up earth’s resources much faster than they can be replenished, and recycling is a poor solution, as only 9 percent of plastic gets recycled. Plastic waste is poisoning our waterways, their inhabitants, and us.

If you’re looking for a way to be more eco-friendly (as well as save some money and live healthier), you may want to adopt a “Zero Waste” (ZW) lifestyle. To make things simple, here’s a month-long plan for getting started on your own journey: 31 steps (one per day) to low waste.

Here are some tips to get started.

  • Use what you have! Don’t toss your old products to buy new “eco-friendly” ones. That likely means you’ll have to come back to several numbers on this 31-day plan at a later date—and that’s okay!
  • Find what works for you—not everything will work for every person.
  • Don’t get discouraged. In the words of Anne-Marie Bonneau (a.k.a. The Zero-Waste Chef), “We may never reach the zero in “zero waste” but that’s no reason to take zero action.”

Day

Category

Action

Consider …

1 Planning Set goals
  • writing down what you’d like to achieve and why
2 Planning Learn your recycling rules
  • researching your municipality’s system so you can recycle properly and choose the best options for packaging based on your area
3 On-the-go Make an on-the-go kit
  • a reusable straw, cutlery, napkin/cloth, chopsticks, travel mug, and water bottle
4 On-the-go Prepare your lunches and snacks
  • reusable pouches, jars, lunch kits, or divided stainless steel containers
5 On-the-go Say no!
  • saying no to shopping bags, receipts, straws, free promotional items, etc
6 Bathroom ZW bathroom products
  • cotton swabs made from cotton and paper, or going without altogether
  • recycled paper or bamboo toilet paper that comes in a box
  • solid soap or liquid refills
  • a metal safety razor
7 Bathroom ZW skin care
  • products that come in glass, metal, or paper tubes, or refills
8 Bathroom ZW hair care
  • shampoo and conditioner bars or liquid refills
9 Bathroom ZW cosmetics
  • products that come in glass, metal, or paper tubes, or refills
10 Bathroom ZW period products
  • cloth pads, a menstrual cup, or period panties
11 Bathroom ZW oral care
  • biodegradable bamboo toothbrush
  • compostable floss
  • toothpaste powder or tabs
12 Kitchen ZW food storage
  • wax food wraps or cloth bowl covers instead of plastic wrap
  • cloth bags instead of plastic
13 Kitchen Evaluate your diet
  • reducing your intake of meat, dairy, and seafood, as these are typically very resource intensive
  • local and organic products
14 Kitchen Choose unpackaged produce
  • bringing your own cloth bags when needed
15 Kitchen Go bulk shopping
  • finding a refill store near you or choosing unpackaged foods from the bulk section, bakery, and deli section/butcher
16 Kitchen Cook/bake something
  • making a food staple you’d normally buy
17 Kitchen Compost
  • investing in a compost system
18 Others Rethink gifts
  • giving experiences or second-hand gifts, or contributing to a cause
19 Others Refuse junk mail
  • cancelling unnecessary mail
  • placing a “no junk mail, please” note on/inside your mailbox
20 Others ZW cleaning products
  • DIYs or refills
21 Others ZW laundry products
  • DIYs or refills
22 Others Visit your library
  • the free resources, services, programs, and content
23 Others Rethink paper products
  • handkerchiefs instead of tissues
  • cloths/rags instead of paper towels
  • cloth napkins instead of paper
24 New skills Grow something
  • a small balcony garden
25 New skills Repair something
  • sewing, such as visible mending
26 New skills Shop second-hand
  • thrift stores, online groups, and consignment shops
27 New skills Trade, barter, or borrow
  • online “swap & shop” groups
28 New skills Build your skills
  • knitting, sewing, or canning
29 Thinking bigger Tell others
  • speaking to friends and family about what you’re doing
30 Thinking bigger Help your community
  • donating your money, time, or talent
31 Thinking bigger Keep learning
  • educating yourself about intersectional issues such as race, class, poverty, accessibility, and disability