As a child, my awareness of the environment was mostly thanks to the movie FernGully: The Last Rainforest, the story of a fairy living in the rainforest whose home is being destroyed by a logging company. We would watch it every year on Earth Day, and it was the highlight of my otherwise dull year.

After watching the movie, we would gather around and talk about the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle! I would then go home determined never to create waste again, only to be quickly thwarted by the lure of a Snickers bar.

I have grown a lot since then (mostly physical growth, not so much emotional growth), and one of the things that I have come across since those days in 1998 is a movement called Zero Waste.

Zero Waste is a lifestyle that strives to reduce the amount of material that we throw away, especially single-use plastics. In the past, for me, Zero Waste was a way that I could easily help the environment without needing 60 bins for my recycling. It felt accessible and even fun!

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” — Anne-Marie Bonneau

Over the years, I have worked to establish small changes that reduce the amount of trash that I make. For example, instead of paper napkins, I use washable ones. I replaced single-use makeup remover wipes with washable cotton pads. Additionally, I started bringing a bamboo cutlery set to work to avoid using single-use plastic cutlery. These are all small changes that I have made that will make big waves in helping Mother Earth.

The key, I have found, is not to focus on being perfect. I am never going to be one of those people that only throws out 16 things every seven years. Some of the Zero Waste suggestions just don’t fit my lifestyle or needs, and that’s okay. Instead, I focus on the things that I can change or improve upon and focus on those!

Here are small things that you can do today to help reduce your waste: 
  1. Use a reusable water bottle/coffee cup
  2. Get a library card to borrow books, magazines and DVDs instead of buying them
  3. Use a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one
  4. Bring reusable produce bags to the grocery store for fruits and veggies
  5. Repair something when it breaks
  6. Ask for no plastic utensils, napkins, etc. when ordering food online
  7. Go paperless for your bills
  8. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap to reduce packaging
  9. Use reusable dryer balls instead of single-use dryer sheets
  10. Use stainless steel straws instead of plastic straws

Check out these books for additional tips & tricks: