Over the past several years I have been really inspired by the Zero Waste movement after being introduced to Lauren Singer’s platform online and then the wider zero/low waste community. I have already made changes like a plastic-free shower routine, eliminating plastic shopping bags, and only using reusable drinks containers (pre-COVID), and I make significantly less waste than my family and many of my peers, however I know that there is more that I can do to make my life less of a burden on the environment. Disclaimer: climate change mitigation will only be effective when large corporations make real and significant changes to the ways they pollute and my lifestyle changes are the tiniest drip into the bucket but I want to know that I did everything I possibly could, no matter what happens in the future.
1. This is kind of a two-parter, when I move out of my parents’ place after getting a job (pls pray to the employment gods with me) I want to install a high-efficiency, low-flow shower head in my apartment. In the meantime (and afterwards!) I plan to reduce how much water I use by reducing how frequently I wash my hair. Also, in showers where I wash my hair, change my shower routine to be water on, shampoo and rinse, apply conditioner, water off, wash face and body, water on and rinse everything. I haven’t quite figured out how to fit shaving in to the water-off routine yet, so it’s a work in progress.
2. Talk to my parents about installing a microfiber filter onto their washing machine, and if I am lucky enough to live somewhere with in-unit laundry in the future, getting my landlord’s permission to install one there! I’ve been looking at the Girlfriend Collective Microfiber Filter. All of our synthetic fiber clothing sheds little teeny-tiny bits of plastic every time they get wet and these bits of plastic have been found all over the ocean and other waterways and I don’t want to keep contributing to that. I don’t plan on switching to exclusively natural fiber active wear, socks, or undergarments and I love a good elastic band so coming up with a plan is super important to prevent further contribution to the micro-plastics issue! Other options include things like the GuppyBag and the Cora ball, but I need to do research on both before making a decision about either one!
3. I don’t know if this goal is even possible but I really want to figure out a way to have a lower plastic consumption cat ownership experience. Right now his dry food comes in a non-recyclable bag, his wet food comes in cans with non-recyclable plastic wrap over them, his litter is compostable – but it comes in a non-recyclable bag, I use a litter-keeper to manage waste which is made of plastic and uses plastic bags, his litter box is plastic, his treats are in plastic, his pills are in plastic, his toys are fleece and plastic! So essentially, my cat is one of my biggest sources of waste.
One of the options I want to look into is getting the pet food bag Terracyle boxes. That would reduce the waste from his treat bags and his dry food bags. I’m not going to start making homemade cat food. My time working in vet med and courses in pet nutrition taught me about how hard it is to get the nutrient profiles correct at home while meeting your cat’s obligate carnivore (they literally HAVE to eat meat as the majority of their diet) dietary needs. Additionally, I was able to adopt him because he was surrendered to the clinic for urinary issues and I am not messing with his veterinary diet for ANY reason other than to switch to another veterinary diet on the recommendation of his vet.
I’m also going to go on the record here and say that some people do make their pets, particularly their dogs, homemade diets and it could be a low-waste option. Please only do so in consultation with your pet’s veterinary team and go into it being fully aware of the time, commitment, and cost that it will be to do properly.
4. Get less take-out. This should be super obvious, but in the spirit of supporting local businesses throughout COVID and being so exhausted from cooking all the time and never going out to eat for months and months (thanks pandemic) that I started to get into a big rut of ordering take out 2-3 times a week. This will also help with my financial and health goals! It’s also really easy right now that I live minimum 30 kilometres from the nearest restaurant and no one, absolutely no one, does delivery to my parents’ place.
5. Change the way I buy clothes. I want to make a plan for how to limit the amount of options I have for buying new clothes. So for example I’ll only buy new clothes if they are made from recycled materials or natural fibres. I also want to be really mindful of what is in my closet, what is coming up, and buying clothes that fit my true lifestyle so that if an event comes up I’m not at the mall two days before in H&M looking for something to wear that weekend. To help with this I just started using Style Apotheca’s Closet Tracker Excel Sheet – which is the nerdiest way to do this. I also think that the mindset of the KonMari method will be really helpful. In the clothing section (and my KonMari clothing post!) she talks about deciding what kind of person you want to be and to use your stuff and have only the stuff that allows you to live that life.
6. Project Pan: This is not a new thing and I’m certainly not being innovative with this. But it is the idea of making sure that you use up the entirety of an item, generally used for makeup items and in the process determining if you actually enjoy the process of using the item or the way it looks on you. And if you do run out of something you can replace it. Ideally after figuring out what you like about a product and only getting one. It’s also supposed to help break you from wanting to follow trends or buying something because it is pretty or sparkly. Following trends is one of the many things that makes the beauty and fashion industries so wasteful and bad for the environment, so if you can break yourself from the urge to follow trends then you are on a great path for living more thoughtfully and sustainably.
So I think that is going to be it for the year. Seems like enough habits to try and change at once. I am learning that too many things is just setting yourself up for failure.