Recycling,  Zero Waste

Zero Waste in the Time of COVID-19

What does the low/zero waste lifestyle look like for you during this time? I’m assuming different, right? For me, there’s definitely been some additional waste such as:
– Takeout containers (some trash, some can be recycled) and drink cups (since we are currently not allowed to bring our own) since I want to support local restaurants (that I would’ve eaten out at during normal times).
– Grocery bags (use some of these as trash can liners, recycle the rest at Target or Lowes bag drop-offs) since our local stores won’t let us use our own bags right now.

I know a lot of the science says it’s okay to still bring your own bags/containers — however, most places and people are not all that comfortable with that idea right now (which I completely understand). In addition, depending on where you live, recycling might look a little different right now. Our local recycling plant said that there’s still a market for #1, 2, 5 plastics and aluminum but not so much glass. I personally think there needs to be a shift from the whole zero waste movement being associated with “I-need-to-fit-all-my-trash-into-a-mason-jar” to a more holistic approach of taking care of the environment. Reducing waste is an important and big part of the save the environment puzzle, but there’s more to it. Not everyone has the privilege and resources to live the “zero waste lifestyle” but what matters is that everyone become more conscious of even the tiniest ways to help the environment and reduce mindless consumption.

Here are some small ways to help the environment during this time (even if *gasp* you’ve gone back to plastic bag days — yes, it’s really okay).
Continue to recycle what you can. Read your local papers or contact your city’s waste division to see if there are any changes to recycling protocols and what’s accepted/has a market right now. (I also still TerraCycle packaging that don’t have local recycling options.)
Continue to buy the package free (or compostable packaging) items that you still can such as shampoo bars, soaps, detergent, and household cleaners.
Conserve water.
Thrift online. Need new loungewear for the work from home life? Poshmark, ThredUp, and eBay are all great. And buying secondhand is a huge win for the environment. And, yes, this is still safe to do. Just make sure to sanitize/wash any items you receive before using (which you should be doing anyways!).
Use what you have. And be mindful of what you bring in.
– Start a garden. Plant a tree. Plant native plants that attract pollinators. (I love red yucca here in Texas.)
– Cook at home and learn to make things like bread/yogurt/ice cream. Make sure to compost all the extra food waste you are producing during this time.
– Decline plastic straws and utensils when getting takeout. Use your own reusable ware at home.
– Support local businesses and farmer’s markets as much as possible. It’s important for the community and is good for the environment (less shipping and transportation!).

Also, just wear the damn mask. 🙂

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