5 Easy Steps to Living Zero-Waste

Seeing the impact that CUSD has made in communities has made taught me that even as college students, we can make a difference. And making a difference starts with the small things done by everyday people like me.

CUSD has challenged me to look at the areas in my like where I can be living more sustainably. That’s how I came across the Zero-Waste movement: a movement popularized by Bea Johnson and her book Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste. Zero-Waste is the idea of minimizing your waste by lowering your overall consumption and using products that are reusable, compostable, or recyclable instead.

When I first learned about the Zero-Waste movement, I thought it was too much effort and that I didn’t have the time to maintain it. But, I soon realized that I didn’t have to make the complete switch right away. Transitioning into a new kind of lifestyle takes time and it’s a gradual process. The important thing is to just start. So here are the 5 easy things I started with:

  1. Use a reusable water bottle — This is something that I had already been doing for years and I’m sure many of you have been too. It’s a super easy concept; just bring your own water bottle and refill it. Most Zero-Waste swaps follow this same simple idea.
  2. Use reusable produce bags — Many people are familiar with using reusable grocery bags. A lot of places will charge you for plastic/paper bags or give you a discount for bringing your own. I thought that if I was already bringing my own bags to the store, why not also bring my own produce bags instead of using the plastic ones? There are a plethora of options for reusable produce bags on Amazon, but really, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, any old bag will work.
  3. Bring your own utensils — Disposable plastic utensils was something that I used almost everyday eating on campus. I first saw a girl bring her own utensils for lunch in one of my classes two years ago. They’re small and light and easy to just bring along with me when I leave for class. And most importantly, it saves me from using hundreds of plastic utensils every year.
  4. Use a bamboo toothbrush — Not only is Zero-Waste great for the environment, but it can also be very aesthetic. Admittedly, I was first intrigued by bamboo toothbrushes because they looked so much nicer than their plastic counterparts. They work just as well as any other toothbrush I’ve used and they can be composted at the end of their life.
  5. Coconut oil make up remover — Through the Zero-Waste movement, I discovered that you can use a lot of everyday products for a multitude of self-care applications. One of those multi-functional products is coconut oil; it can be used on your hair, your teeth, and your skin. It also works as an amazing natural make up remover (it even gets off waterproof mascara). Another plus is that it’s a lot more inexpensive than the average store-bought makeup remover.