Starting off with a low waste journey can seem overwhelming. The chic zero waste homes in the media make you think you have to throw everything away and buy a long list of zero waste products that line up perfectly in your cupboards. I’m here to tell you that I’d rather you did the complete opposite. Keep using what you have and choose low waste alternatives when products run out.
One of the best ways to get started is to do a waste audit. Plan to collect your garbage and recycling for a week or two so you can understand what you discard. For your test period, I highly recommend collecting food waste in a separate container (if you don’t compost already). This will make your task much more pleasant. Now, you can get as nerdy as you’d like with this. Some people like to keep a spreadsheet with an itemized list of everything they found. If you don’t have the desire to make this into a homework assignment, you can also just go through it and make mental notes of what you found.
The most important things to notice are the items you find the most often, as eliminating those can have the biggest impact. I also want you to notice the items that will be easy to eliminate — things that you now see you don’t actually need to buy, or things with easy, low-waste, alternatives. Making reducing your waste as easy as possible will help ensure that you don’t give up.
The best way to tackle your waste is to do it slowly. Pick one or two things that you’ve identified from your waste audit and find alternatives or try to avoid buying them altogether. Once those changes become a habit, pick another, and then keep going until you’re happy with the amount of waste you’re producing.
Small changes that turn into small wins will help motivate you to keep going without feeling like waste reduction is taking over your whole life.