If you’ve checked out my last post on some sustainable habits I developed in 2018, thank you and welcome to this post! This year I am ready to continue on my zero waste journey and making more changes to reduce my environmental footprint as an individual, and hope to inspire others around me to do the same. Generally, I’ve been maintaining the habit of BYO items, using reusable containers, and purchasing and disposing responsibly, but there are more steps I’d like to take that I’ll share here.
Reducing the habit of purchasing items in plastic packaging.
Have you ever walked into a convenience store and looked at all the items on the shelves? Was there one item that wasn’t packaged in plastic? I vaguely remember in a distant memory that the only item not packaged in plastic were some bananas in a Duane Reade in Manhattan, but I think that was about it! It is incredible how the plastic manufacturers have taken over nearly every single retail store (except for the first zero waste grocery store in NYC and others around the world) and it has a lot to do with convenience. I need to take charge of my purchasing and reduce purchasing grocery or convenience store items that are in plastic packaging.
Making my own snacks!
You might be wondering, where would one get snacks since they’re all wrapped in plastic?! That’s a great question, and a solution is…make your own! I’ve made my own granola balls before with just three ingredients. You can control what ingredients you want, the amount of sugar that’s in each snack, and the portion you want to set aside for each snack time – what more could you want? 🙂
Being more diligent in bringing containers when dining out.
This is something I was hesitant to put on my list, since I usually don’t have leftovers after I eat out somewhere, but figured it’s always a good practice to carry a mason jar or a totable stainless steel container *just in case* I happen to order something that comes in a huge portion!
Using my zero waste dental products!
Some time in the middle of 2018, I decided I did not want to continue buying the traditional toothpaste tubes or plastic toothbrushes anymore, and went on a hunt for some zero waste substitutes. I ended up purchasing Lush Toothy Tabs, X silk dental floss, and X bamboo toothbrushes 🙂
Implementing composting at my office.
My office is going to reach up to 75 staff by the end of the year, and you can imagine how much food waste can be produced per week. I made it a personal goal this year to spearhead the green initiatives at my office, starting with the recycling brown bag I organized with the help of my friend Larissa, the Recycling Outreach Coordinator at GrowNYC (see post here!) I’m in discussion with different organic collection services to implement composting at my office and once that is set up, I will organize another brown bag focused on composting and preventing food waste from ending up in landfills.
Refusing free stuff and impulse buys.
As human beings, I think we have a proclivity to get free stuff when they’re available. I know when I was growing up, I always sought out the free samples at the wholesale stores when shopping with my family! Sometimes I see people handing out flyers from their companies, and I know that they need to distribute their stack before their shift is complete, so I always feel bad and take some off their hands when I walk by them. Over time though, I realized this was not doing anyone good, because I was not bringing in business for them, and it was putting the onus on me to recycle the papers once I collected them, so I just politely refuse most papers when walking down streets or when attending events.
Luckily for me, I am not victim to many impulse buy moments, but this is something I need to consciously practice when I see the next cool thing that is zero waste on my Instagram from an influencer! I tell myself to reevaluate the items I have at home to see if something can be repurposed, instead of buying something brand new to add to whatever collection I already have.
Eating more locally-sourced fruit and vegetables.
This year, I moved to an apartment where I live about fifteen minutes away from a farmers’ market, and I am so excited to start buying my fruit and veggies there! The number of small- and medium-scale family-owned farms are dwindling, and I feel it is so important to support these farmers who are making a living to provide fresh, quality produce. If you go frequently enough, you might make a few farmer friends and have “the usual” stands you can stop by to get your weekly groceries, too 🙂 If you live in NYC, check out which farmers markets are near you here.
It is never too late to start thinking green and taking steps to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. You can make more of a difference than you believe, and it can start with just one habit change (and grow from there). Good luck!