As a New Yorker, when I first heard about a *zero waste lifestyle*, I thought one thing: this can’t be true. Waste is everywhere — styrofoam take-out boxes litter most streets, cigarette butts thrown out of cabs, + plastic water bottles are overflowing trash cans on nearly, every city corner.
Then, Lauren Singer, a NYU grad + founder of her own company, The Simply Co., started showing up everywhere. New York Magazine, Fox News, MSNBC, + a recent TEDxTeen Conference [check out her TED Talk!]. On her blog, TrashIsForTossers, Lauren notes: “To me, Zero Waste means that I do not produce any garbage. No sending anything to a landfill, no throwing anything in a trash can, nothing. However, I do recycle and I do compost.” All of the trash that she has created in the last three years fits neatly into her 16oz Mason Jar.
I was motivated. I had recently chosen vegetarianism, having learned of the environmental effects of meat production from a sustainability course in college. But transitioning to full-on zero waste seemed impossible [+ in many ways, still does!]. Since learning of Lauren + her lifestyle, I’ve slowly taken on my own version of zero waste + while not 100% perfect, it has helped me live a happier, cheaper [!], + more mindful life.
I know it seems hard + maybe even a little *out there*, but I promise — it’s worth it. Not only are you helping the environment, but this *less is more* mentality will have a positive impact on your day-to-day life. The easiest way to transition into the zero waste lifestyle is to first understand your habits + start with changing the simplest [but most effective!] actions. Check out these five super easy ways to start your own zero waste journey…
1] DITCH YOUR WATER BOTTLE //
This is something you probably already do, because CHAARG girls have the fiercest fit gear! Ditch the daily plastic water bottle for a sleek reusable [even if it’s plastic, that’s okay — you are using it daily!]. I love my CHAARGified Citrus Zinger, because I can change up the flavor + rep CHAARG everywhere I go.
2] SAY GOOD-BYE TO THE PLASTIC BAG //
One of the biggest culprits — the plastic bag. Anywhere you go [the grocery store, convenience store, the Nike outlet ; ), etc.], you’re given a plastic bag. It’s estimated that 2 MILLION plastic bags are discarded *every minute*, so this is definitely one of the first things that needs to go. Simply swap out those one-time use plastic bags for a reusable tote. I use mine as a purse every day, but you can easily throw one in your purse or backpack for any spur-of-the-moment purchases or planned trips to the store.
3] *ZERO WASTE* #CHAARGEATS //
The grocery store is filled with pre-packaged foods + plastic bags, making it hard to make those zero waste choices. As fall begins, it’s still a perfect time to check out your local farmer’s market or CSA program, purchasing fresh produce straight from the farm + without all the unnecessary packaging. That being said, there’s nothing like a good Trader Joe’s run : ). Make sure you always have your reusable totes on hand + for those looking to get more dedicated, check out these reusable cloth bags — perfect for all of your grocery store produce purchases!
4] IT’S TIME FOR A CLOSET CLEANOUT or SECOND-HAND THREADS + CLOTHING SWAPS //
*Fast fashion* — think H&M, Forever 21, + Zara. I’ll admit I love it too, but with the constant production of lower quality clothing, purchasing from these stores is not the most sustainable choice. Buying second-hand is a fun + easy to live a zero waste lifestyle. With trends always coming back into style, check out your local second-hand + consignment shops — many will have really great quality brands for less. Also, go through your closet + set aside everything that you haven’t worn in the last year. Plan a clothing swap party with your friends [I’ve received some of my favorites from swaps!] or donate your clothes to keep the zero waste cycle going.
5] THE MORE YOU KNOW //
Finally, one of the best ways to live zero waste [or any new lifestyle//habit//etc.] is to know more. After first learning about Lauren, I ended up reading her entire blog, TrashIsForTossers. From there, I discovered her inspiration, Bea Johnson, a wife, mother of two, + author of Zero Waste Home. I continually explore the zero waste community on Instagram, learning more tips, tricks, + hacks. Go outside of your comfort zone + use knowledge as a tool to better your day-to-day lifestyle, your local community, + our shared world.
Ready to get started? Snap a pic of your first zero waste practice + share with us using the hashtag #CHAARGZeroWaste! OR See how many ways you can practice *zero waste* + share with us on Instagram with the hashtag #CHAARGZeroWaste!
+ Jessica [@jessicasmith_inchaarg] // VirtCHAARG NYC
+ Photography // Kaitlyn Bowman [@kaitb_inchaarg]