Curious about the zero waste lifestyle? I’ve been following the blog Waste Not YXE since it’s beginning and I’ve been dying to ask it’s founders some questions. How did you start? How do you stay on top of things? Does anyone with kids do this? I sat down with Cassandra for coffee and croissants at the Night Oven and she gladly answered my questions. Here’s my top 10 tips I gleaned from our conversation.
1. Start small, but commit to that one thing.
Whether it’s plastic bags, coffee cups, or straws, commit to finding a reusable alternative and don’t back down.
2. Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
You never realize how many of our foods are packaged until you’re on a road trip to Vancouver and can only eat carrots because that’s the only thing in the grocery store without packaging.
If you’re starting with something like eliminating plastic bags, make sure you have a designated spot for your reusable bags and have enough of them for your usual grocery haul. If you haven’t planned it out, it’s too easy to give up on your zero waste goals in the early stages.
3. Start in the Kitchen
From her own experience, Cassandra feels that probably 60-70% of waste is kitchen related. What could you do that would be an easy win? Maybe you could purchase only vegetables without packaging, or commit to gardening and preserving 50% of your food. Try getting what you can in bulk to reduce waste or start composting.
4. Everything is more fun with friends
Find a few like-minded friends to do this with. You’ll have more fun and have extra accountability to stick to it. If your friends aren’t on board and you’re in the Saskatoon area, join the Waste Not YXE Facebook Group.
5. See it as a challenge
Whenever you run out of certain product, challenge yourself to come up with a way to make it zero waste or less waste. Or be like Cassandra and find a way to do without. And on that note. . .
6. Make peace with having less things
This is what initially attracted me to the idea of zero waste. Once you go down the decluttering rabbit hole, the next logical step is to eliminate waste and unnecessary things to begin with.
7. Borrow or buy more things second hand
Do you really need that brand new thing? Check out Kijiji or your local thrift store first. Since I’ve started thrift store shopping, I’ve been amazed at the things I’ve found that have been worn only once or twice.
8. Wood Chips Neutralize Compost Odour
I haven’t been as awesome as I could be at composting, because frankly, it stank! I’m excited to try this out and make my garden soil in the city even better.
9. Be motivated by the money you’ll save
If you’re trying to avoid packaging, you’ll have fewer purchasing options, which means spending less money.
10. It’s okay to have a few non-negotiables.
Toilet paper. Enough said.
For us, cucumbers in plastic will always be in our lives because those are the only cucumbers our son will eat. When you only eat two vegetables, you don’t take those away.
Readers, any burning questions you want answered?
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Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.