How to Live More Waste-Free!

Hello my loves!

Long time no talk! This last week I’ve been pretty MIA as I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and unmotivated. I haven’t been happy/stable enough to produce quality content, so I’ve just been trying to practice some healthy coping skills and taking time for myself to feel better. I’ve also been struggling with healing my sinus infection, but thankfully it seems to be on its last legs, (fingers crossed). I will be elaborating more on my mental health and feelings over the past week in a blog post that will be up no later than tomorrow night! I will be back to my regular posting schedule (every other day), starting with this post, but I do want to treat you all to an extra post tomorrow as a way to apologize for not being regular this last week.

Being more environmentally friendly and sustainable has always been something I’ve had passion for, but unfortunately it can be difficult to know where to start and what steps to take to do so. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget all the waste you’re actually producing. It’s so important to always be conscious and aware of what we’re doing and the choices we’re making in our day-to-day lives, as the littlest things we’ve been used to doing since we were children could actually be making a detrimental impact on our planet.

The main reason I went vegan was the animal cruelty aspect, as I stated in my earlier post explaining veganism in more depth, but once I found out the positive and large impact not eating animals or animal byproducts had on our environment I was more than happy to continue my path to veganism. So one major tip I do have for you all if you’re trying to be more environmentally friendly and live a more sustainable life is eating less or no meat and/or trying to cut back on animal by-products as well. I have tons of facts about the detrimental impact eating meat/dairy/eggs/fish has on our planet, and if you want to learn more about that you can check out this blog post for more info!

Keep in mind, I am still on this journey to become more sustainable as well. I am not perfect and there are times when I mess up too. Not only am I sharing these tips with you to provide some help and insight, but I’m also sharing this as a reminder to me, as I believe it’ll help reinforce these ideas in my head! So, without any more rambling, let’s get into my tips & tricks to live more waste-free!

Ditch the plastic bags.

Probably the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when you think of waste-free is to ditch the plastic bags. In Australia alone, over 10 million plastic bags per day are used; a ridiculous number when you think of all the damage plastic bags cause to our planet. If you’re buying one or two things from the convenience store or pharmacy, not using the plastic bag and just carrying it by hand or throwing your items into your purse is a small but powerful change you can make. Investing in a tote bag to use for groceries makes all the difference too. Even reusing the old plastic bags you have from previous grocery trips can really help as well. I try to buy all my veggies naked (which means no plastic packaging) and I’ll put them in a cardboard box to make it easier to carry the veggies. I rarely buy strawberries or raspberries, but when I do, it’s really hard to find them without plastic packaging, so I kind of just accept it as a small dent in my plan to not use plastic bags. I also try to buy in bulk whenever I can, and use fabric bags of my own or mason jars to carry the bulked goods like rice, beans, quinoa, sugar, etc.

Invest in reusable coffee cups and water bottles.

I think I’ve bought 2 plastic water bottles in the last 2-3 years because they’re so bad for the environment and are a completely unnecessary purchase! Investing in a BPA free water bottle, thermos and to-go coffee mug is such an awesome purchase because not only do you get to carry around something cute and portable, you won’t believe the plastic you’ll save by doing so! I use a swell water bottle for hot drinks that I make at home, and for water and it’s amazing! It keeps your drinks hot or cold for 12 hours, and it’s BPA free and it’s a plus that the designs are so cute! I also plan on purchasing a reusable coffee mug from Starbucks, because not only do you save paper and plastic, you also get 10 cents off your coffee every time you purchase with a reusable mug, and believe it or not, most coffee shops are like that!  If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup every day, you’ll end up creating about 23 pounds of waste in one year. In 2003, Starbucks found that coffee drinkers used reusable cups an estimated 13.5 million times, which kept 586,800 pounds of garbage out of landfills.  In 2006, this number increased to 17 million and an estimated 674,000 pounds of avoided waste. So bottom line, reusable cups really do make a difference, and they’re worth the 15-20$. (statistics came from this source)

Recycle!

An obvious one that pretty much everyone has grown up learning is the act of recycling. Even though we all know the basics of recycling, I thought I’d touch on it briefly and give you my pro-tips on how to recycle efficiently and effectively. Most people know you can recycle cans, glass bottles, cardboard and milk jugs, but even the littlest things you wouldn’t even think of can be recycled rather than trashed. Also, when recycling you have to make sure you’re cleaning out the containers because if something is wrong, the people sorting through will just dispose of it in the landfill, even if it CAN be recycled. If you have a milk jug with a little bit of milk left, don’t just throw it in the bin, rinse it out with soap and water first. Same with food containers, make sure there’s no food left in the glass/plastic containers before recycling. I’ll put a list here of all the things you can recycle, and some of them may shock you! You can also collect your pop cans, bottles, milk/juice jugs, wine bottles and take them to the bottle depot to be recycled and get some money in your pocket while doing so!

  • Aluminum cans, aluminum foil, tin/soup cans and bake ware; This means the cookie sheets you use can be recycled too!
  • Corrugated cardboard, but make sure you’re not recycling wet cardboard! Leave it out to dry before throwing it into a bin, as it can get moldy if not dried first.
  • Magazines and newspaper; Something I’ve always thrown out has been magazines, but you can recycle these! Glossy paper CAN be recycled, despite the misconception that they can’t.
  • Paper board; paper board is made from 100% recovered fiber, which is awesome! Paper board is what our cereal and other breakfast/snack products may come in. Make sure when recycling the plastic is taken out if there’s plastic inside and any food is dumped out.
  • Paper cardboard, dairy and juice cartons. Once again, make sure these containers are being rinsed before disposal!
  • Clear glass, amber glass, green glass, can all be recycled. Make sure all these things are rinsed out. Here’s what makes glass un-recyclable; any glass contaminated with dirt, stones or food waste, ceramics, heat-resistant glass, mixed colors of broken glass, metal or plastic caps, window or mirror glass, crystal and light bulbs (learn how to recycle light bulbs here)
  • All types of plastics can pretty much be recycled, even small plastic straws and wraps. Just make sure they’re not dirty or coated in food!

When ordering take out, skip the plastic utensils or extra napkins!

A really small and mediocre thing that you can do that helps save a lot of waste is skipping out on the napkins or plastic utensils when ordering take out. Just saying “Hey, I’m good without the extra napkins and utensils” means less you have to throw out. Also in regards to not using plastic utensils, carrying silverware like a fork, knife and spoon with you everywhere you go and reusing them can be a great way to cut down on plastic use, especially if you work lots or are a student and eat in cafeterias often!

Using a Diva Cup or OB Tampons!

I cannot even tell you how terrible the plastic applicators are for our environment. It’s very rare for women to be recycling their plastic applicators on tampons (I don’t even think you can do that). The majority of the women in the world have periods up until they’re 50 (obviously everyone’s body is different) but most women go through a half box or full box of tampons once a month, which is A LOT of plastic waste. In fact, most women go through 12,000 to 15,000 period products in a lifetime to be exact. And in one year alone, the Centre for Marine Conservation collected 140,000 tampon applicators along shorelines in the U.S. I just ordered my Diva Cup online and am stoked for it to be here. It’s 43.99, but it’s a one-time purchase that will last a life time. Not only is it free of all the harmful chemicals found in tampons and pads, it helps you track your flow every month, and you save over 100$ a year on period products. OB tampons are also a great alternative if you don’t feel comfortable using the diva cup. They are applicator free tampons (super compact and small) and has no chlorine or gross toxic chemicals in them. I don’t have an exact amount of waste that the OB tampon saves, but I’d imagine it’s a lot! There are tons of period product alternatives, and whichever you are comfortable with is completely fine! Another great product are period panties. They are reusable, comfortable panties where you “free bleed” into them and then wash and reuse them.

So there you are! Those are a few of the things that I’m doing or am going to start doing to live more waste-free and green! It’s not easy at first, but remember; the littlest changes have the biggest impacts. We only have one planet and we need to cherish it and love it as much as we can. It’s taken a hit so much over the last couple hundred years and it’s time we clean up our act and treat the world we live in better, or else one day we’ll wake up and it’ll be gone. Let me know in the comments what you do to live more waste-free, so that we can learn from each other! I’ll be updating you on my journey with sustainability over the next little while, so you can expect more posts like this one periodically!

All my love,

Shelby.

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