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Are you wondering what the easiest way to transition to a zero waste lifestyle is? You probably know that you need to change some of the things you buy and use. Maybe even alter your behaviour a little.
But where (and how) do you start?
Don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than you think. Don’t try to do or change everything at once, because you straight up won’t be able to and you’ll feel like a failure.
Use the Iterations to Zero Waste Method instead.
What the heck is that? I hear you ask.
It really is the easiest way to transition to that satisfying zero waste lifestyle. It’s simple and really easy to execute. It might be a little gross though, at first.
Intrigued? Read on.
The Iterations to Zero Waste Method involves a short but effective cycle of activities. They are as follows:
This is the gross bit. But it’s only gross until you transition to a compost or worm bin, reusable menstrual products, and cloth nappies (if you have a bub). And since food and nappies are likely to make up a large chunk of your rubbish, they’ll be going sooner rather than later.
So – how do you do it?
Gather all of your rubbish bins together (if you have more than one). You may want to put gloves on at this point (try reusable ones…). It’s going to get messy from here.
Empty your bins item by item, separating them into piles of similar products. For example, put all of your food waste in a pile (maybe into a container…), your disposable coffee cups into another pile, and your paper towels into yet another.
Keep going until your bins are empty.
Identify your biggest pile. This is what we’re going to find a solution for first.
Why the biggest first? Because that’s the one that’s going to have the biggest impact once you transition to a zero waste substitute. Both in terms of the environment, and how often you’ll have to take the rubbish out 😉
By the way, if you’re interested in testing out the zero waste minimalist lifestyle, without the commitment, have a quick look at the free course below. It contains a few little (easy) challenges that give you an insight into a satisfying, less-stressful way of life. What do you have to lose? Click here for more info.
Now comes the treasure hunt! You have to do a bit of reading and research to find a suitable substitute.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution here, because different households have different needs. But there are plenty of useful answers to the same problem and I’m sure you’ll find one that works for you.
For example, say you found that food waste created the biggest pile during your audit. There are a number of ways to deal with this.
The first is composting, which is easily done in any backyard. But maybe you don’t have much space? You could consider a worm farm, which doesn’t need too much room.
Or even one of those fancy things that looks like a bin but composts your food waste in the tiniest space?
You might even find a local garden or individual who is willing to take your compostable materials off your hands.
In some areas, the local council collects materials from households for composting.
Whatever it is you’re substituting, remember to think outside the box if you can’t immediately come up with a solution. Ask around on zero waste Facebook groups and pages – I’ve found some very creative solutions there in the past.
Also remember to use what you have at hand first. It may not be the most ‘grammable option, but it’s certainly the cheapest and most environmentally friendly. You can always upgrade if and when your “at-hand” solution breaks or wears out.
This may come as a shock, but there are types of waste you may be able to dispense with for good by giving up the activity causing this waste. You might not be feeling it at this early stage, but later on you’ll find yourself wondering if you even need to consume that product in the first place. For instance, I no longer use any hair products – shampoo and conditioner included.
If you’re wondering about food packaging, stay tuned for my post on how leading a zero waste lifestyle can benefit your diet and health. And no, it isn’t about veganism.
Use your solution for a few weeks. Give it a chance to work and yourself a chance to change your habits. It won’t become natural overnight, but with a bit of time your actions will change and you’ll do it without thinking about it.
Once you’ve given it some time, it’s important to evaluate how this option is working for you. Like I said earlier, nothing works for everybody. If the option you chose isn’t working out, it’s okay to admit this and look for another solution.
It’s unrealistic to expect that every change you make will be perfect, so be open to this fact and change things up when necessary. If you acquired an item that isn’t working for you, try to give it another chance with someone else. Either sell it, donate it, or advertise it in a “buy nothing” group.
Go through the process of finding a solution again, take a different route, and see how that goes. 99% of the time, you WILL find something that works for you.
If you’ve been through this process but find you’re still struggling on something specific, just send me an email and I’ll try to help you through it.
Finally, once you’ve implemented a way to save waste on your biggest pile, it’s time to do the whole process again. Gather your bins, empty them into piles, identify the biggest pile from this new round, and look for a solution to try out.
You will find that it takes longer and longer to fill up your bins, and you’ll have to empty them less and less frequently.
Now tell me, when has that EVER been a bad thing?
So that’s it. That’s the process that will take you from “one bin bag a day” to “oh, I forgot we had a bin.”
Wouldn’t that be great?
Of course, not I, nor anyone else, expects ZERO waste. Whilst it’s definitely possible, it’s not entirely realistic for most people to live a completely zero waste lifestyle. I’m certainly not there yet, but it is something I’m aiming towards. I think I’ll get pretty close.
And if I never quite make it? So what? I’ve made a hell of a difference trying to get there. You will too.
So get stuck into that first round, and let me know in the comments what it is you’re switching first!