Below is a diary-like snapshot of some of my first attempts at living a more eco-conscious lifestyle.
I have spent the last week, between studying for finals and preparing for an internship interview, researching Zero-Waste lifestyles, eco-friendly alternatives, and the consequences of an Eco-Unconcious lifestyle. As I mentioned before, I no longer want to live that way.
Being a college student working a part-time job, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive zero-waste lifestyle gadgets. I’m also living at home while saving up for my own house, so I don’t have plenty of space to settle in and transition new Eco-Conscious items (though some zero-wasters would say that’s no problem because minimalism is a key part of a zero-waste lifestyle). That being said, many of the transitions I am making are simple, and inexpensive- though I admit my furor got me going pretty quickly on some of these changes.
The first thing I did was repurpose one of the hundreds of mason jars my family owns (we do a lot of canning). I used one of the bigger jars so I wouldn’t have to refill it quite so often, which is useful especially on days when I have back-to-back classes. I simply drilled a hole in one of the lids and tossed in a stainless steel straw. I love this jar and use it every day, and it cost me nothing. Tip: invest in some stainless steel straws. I use these for drinking from this jar, for smoothies, and they’re great for when you eat out and don’t want to use the disposable straw the waitress tries to give you. They were a bit difficult for me to find, but Target has them in some stores for $5. I actually used some my family got from Amazon, where prices range from $5-$15, depending on how many straws you get. Most come with a nifty little brush to clean their insides.
Next, I went to my local Goodwill and bought a large ceramic jar with a lid. We have a fairly large garden, so we’re pretty good about composting. However, it was time to have an actual compost jar. It’s a lovely blue and says “Flour”, and adds a nice touch to the decor. It’s large enough that we can go a few days without having to trek out to the backyard to empty it. Composting is vital to growing your own fruits and veggies, and to reducing your waste. Tip: Buy used rather than new. Part of a zero-waste lifestyle is reducing your contribution to the waste cycle. We often buy new instead of repurposing what we already have, or buying used. Besides, things are so much cheaper at thrift stores (especially mason jars!)
Today was the opening day of my local Farmer’s Market! There aren’t many fruits and veggies out yet (Tip: Buy produce from your local Farmer’s Market to reduce the number of annoying produce stickers you have to throw away, and the environmental impacts of produce transportation). There was, however, a local small business owner who selling all-natural, handmade soap bars. I was thrilled to support her, and to purchase her amazing smelling soaps with only a thin, recyclable paper wrapper stating the ingredients. I also later found (miraculously) a bamboo toothbrush at my local Target for $4, which is biodegradable and will be tossed into my compost pile in a few months. I also made the switch from disposable, unrecyclable wax-paper cups to, yes, another mason jar. Mason jars are your friends, Eco-Conscious lovelies.
I have also started to make the transition away from paper napkins, though many are compostable, they’re not necessary and they are disposable, which degrades our appreciation for things. I admit, I ought to have bought these used, but I picked up six cloths at a local store for cheaper than I would have gotten them at my local Goodwill. Plus, they’re so soft! These are 100% cotton (which is also compostable, in case you were wondering) and will last me for a very long time (until they’re ready to be tossed into the compost). I plan to leave one in my car, wrapping up the silverware that I use when I forget to pack some in my lunch (which, unfortunately, is often) and for any time when the only option is disposable cutlery. I’m also going to use them as napkins for my lunch.
Lastly, I found some of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap at Target (Target was surprisingly useful in my search for Zero-waste goodies). This was $6 dollars, and it can probably be found cheaper elsewhere. I was a little overzealous and bought it right then, partly because it smelled so good. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap is AMAZING. It is extraordinarily useful and has many purposes, which is important in an Eco-Conscious lifestyle. I plan on using this bar for shampoo, body wash, and face wash. I’m going to pick up a bottle of the peppermint liquid pure-castile soap for a project I’ll talk more about later. The liquid soap can be used for even more household needs.
I’m working on some more projects and transitions that I’m really excited to share with you all. So far, this lifestyle change hasn’t been too difficult or expensive. It’s important to buy used if possible, and remember, many of the things you are buying are meant to last, unlike disposables, so they’ll be an investment for quite some time.
If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know! We’re on a journey together, so let’s support each other.
I’ll be doing an update on where I currently am at with many of these changes I made two years ago, and I’ll add a link to that post soon.