It’s the small things that change everything.

Though I was committed to avoiding landfill during my 30 Day Zero Waste Challenge, I admit, zero waste is not practical for me at the moment. However, much less waste is totally doable. Even after cutting my waste in half, I’m still finding sustainable ways I can reduce my waste in a way that doesn’t require extra time, money or mind space.

30 Day Zero Waste Challenge (Part 4)

Lauren is responsible for inspiring me to take on this 30 Day Zero Waste Challenge in the first place. To help others reduce their waste she started her company The Simply Co and authors her lifestyle blog Trash is for Tossers. She’s bravely challenged what’s normal to build a life that aligns with her values, which doesn’t involve a a trash can. She’s a inspirational badass with nothing but good intentions. This chit-chat is truly a treat, enjoy.

Listen to Podcast on iTunes

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Why I’ll Continue to Strive for Zero Less Waste

Quality over quantity.

Zero waste means investing in things that you use often and will last forever (ideally). In doing this, a shift occurs that puts more value on quality things that last instead of how many things you have.

Save time and money.

At first, zero waste does take more time and money. It wasn’t until I found my groove and determine what lifestyle changes work for me that I noticed how this shift can actually save time and money. Once the infrastructure is built and habits change it’s no longer a challenge; it’s simply a way of life. Others who have committed to this lifestyle agree that it has saved them time and money.

Freedom from nonsensical items.

Do your possessions own you? Avoiding sending waste to the landfill means taking back ownership over the items that own you. In return, one finds liberation and environments that fuel inspiration.

Care for the environment.

The average American sends 4.5 lbs of trash per day to landfills. These landfills have a damaging impact on nature in many ways. In turn, it’s damaging for to health and happiness of all who inhabit this planet (like humans and puppies).

Clean and healthy eating.

When shopping with a zero waste mindset, I naturally avoided processed packaged foods. Instead, I found I only shopped the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh, healthy and less-waste foods are located ;)

My Zero Waste Kitchen

How I Learned to Minimize Waste

Compare actions with values.

It wasn’t until Lauren stopped being critical of others and looked inwards at herself, that she guilt-fully realized her own actions didn’t line up with her values. From this place, she found the focus and commitment necessary to make the lifestyle changes that gave her a life that as consistent with her convictions. This self-reflection and willingness to accept you’re not perfect is key for lasting change.

Be prepared or be creative.

Being prepared and creative is all it takes to avoid wasteful convenience of single-use, non-reusable, landfill-bound, probably-unnecessary items. The hardest part is that it’s not a cultural norm to avoid these waste items. Quite the opposite in fact. So how does one challenge what’s expected? Mindfulness…

Take a moment and think.

Avoiding what comes easy requires being mindful and aware. Not simply and passively accepting things just because you can. A simple pause before buying or accepting something goes a long way. It gives you the opportunity to ask if what you’re about to do aligns with your values.  Is it worth it? Is there an alternative? Do I really need this?

Stay committed by being present.

Approach minimizing waste as a journey, not a race. What it comes down to is simple moment-to-moment choices. In each moment, your choice is all that matters. Start now, don’t worry about what is to come. Each simple choice to avoid waste strengthens your next opportunity to make a similar choice.

Don’t be discouraged by your own preconceived fears. Just start. One thing is all it takes to start, and you’re making a difference. – Lauren Singer

Pick the low hanging fruit.

The pursuit of less waste requires a series of new behaviors. So start with small wins. It’s the small wins that change habits. Getting a few easy wins early on gives you a better chance of sticking with new habits for the long haul. It’s a commonly held notion that that if you fight old habits and instead practice better ones consistently, it becomes an established habit.

Vulnerability is your ally.

Fortunately, I have YOU to thank for helping me through this 30 Day Zero Waste Challenge. Honestly, if it wasn’t for you reading this right now, I wouldn’t have been as motivated to stick with the challenge.

Putting yourself out there publicly is hard because it creates the vulnerable potential of failure. That’s powerful! This vulnerability is not something to avoid as it can be your ally in avoiding failure. Better yet, you’ll begin to see opportunities in failure and use them to succeed.

Key Takeaways from Living Zero Waste

Hat’s off to these helpful zero wasters:

I owe a huuuge thank you to Lauren Singer, Bea Johnson, Kathryn Kellog, Ree Shreeves, Darshan Karat, Christine Liu, and Stephanie Sparling Williams for taking the time to interview with me during my 30 day pursuit of going zero waste.