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July 30, 2015

Zero Waste Movement: 10 Ways to Join the Party.

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Did you know the average American creates four pounds of trash a day?

That’s 1,500 pounds of trash a year.

Have you ever thought about where it all goes? Seriously, where do we store 1,500 pounds of trash for every person in America?

Needless to say, trash management is a national (and global) crisis.

Human beings contributed to man made trash mountains that leach toxins into the soil and ground water, emit enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses and take up lots of space.

Furthermore, not all trash makes it to a landfill. Instead, it resides on the side of the road, at the bottom of ravines and swirling around in the ocean where it deeply affects marine wildlife.

In fact, over a billion animals die each year to pollution, largely due to discarded plastic.

We live in a disposable society. To-go containers, paper towels, coffee cups, plastic water bottles, junk mail, receipts galore—and we don’t even realize we’re contributing to the problem.

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With a little bit of forethought, however, we can drastically reduce our waste contribution. Here are ten ways to join the Zero Waste Movement (that will reduce waste and save you time and money along the way).

1. Who likes to receive junk mail?

Do you need another credit card offer? I certainly don’t. Sign up to stop junk mail here or here.

2. Switch to Paperless Billing.

Physical mail is how most identities get stolen, anyway.

3. Think ahead (and beyond the grocery store).

Because the grocery store isn’t the only place you’ll be carrying something out of! Be prepared: Keep reusable bags in your truck or get a foldable bag for your purse or wallet for impromptu trips to the pet store, hardware store or second hand thrift shop.

4. Keep a hanky in your pocket or purse.

It’s great for unexpected sneezes or drying your hands in the public restroom (paper towels aren’t recyclable).

5. Try to buy second hand.

This is great for the environment and your pocket book. I buy a lot of my clothes second hand and most of my purchases still have tags on them.

Thrifting isn’t only for clothing, either: Furniture and dishes are great things to find at thrifts stores or garage sales.

Pro Tip: Always check to make sure that second hand electronics and appliances are in working condition before you buy them.

6. Consider composting.

I can’t stress this one enough. Please, compost! You may have municipal compost. But if you don’t, it’s not difficult to start one in your backyard.

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Composting is important, because both food and paper don’t get enough air in landfills to decompose. Instead, they release methane and are preserved because they are surrounded with non-organic material.

7. Avoid plastic at all costs!

Opt for products sold in cardboard, paper, glass or loose in bulk bins. Try to avoid plastic.

8. Buy cans instead of bottles.

Aluminum has a 100% recycling rate, and you don’t have to worry about a cap or top.

Aluminum is also a fully self-sustaining metal.

9. Be mindful when out to eat & drink.

Refuse plastic straws at restaurants. I like to start my drink order with, “Please, no straw in my water.”

10. Bring your own cup for your daily coffee or smoothie fix.

Starbucks will pay you to do that. In fact, a lot of restaurants, stores and coffee shops are open to putting your order in your own container—even from behind the meat counter to your local food truck.

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While it is certainly overwhelming to jump on board with the zero waste movement, remind yourself that baby steps, patience and taking your time are okay.

You’ll slowly phase out disposable products and introduce new ones into your life. Even if you’re not ready to make the whole commitment, we can all make a huge difference by incorporating some of these painless, time saving and money saving eco-tips into our lives.

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References: 

The United Nations News Center

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Relephant Reads:

So you Want to be a Sexy, Lean, Earth-Saving Machine.

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Author: Kathryn Kellogg

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Jes/Flickr

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Kathryn Kellogg