WORDS: Anamarie Shreeves

IMAGE: Fort Negrita

Anamarie is an Earth advocate with passion for zero-waste, traveling, self-reliance, and regenerative energy and waste. You can find her in the Fort,

You're Going to Start Your Zero Waste Life by the End of September

Not quite what you were expecting for your monthly "Get Stuff Done" list, but if you're reading this, then you'll be transitioning into your life as a zero waster by the end of September.

Thank me later.

Zero waste, also known as trash-free or waste-free, is a conscious decision to minimize waste. By choosing to adopt zero impact alternatives you personally relieve the earth of wasted materials, and decrease your impact on nonrenewable resources, air, water and land quality.

My zero waste life started a year and four months ago, and I have reduced my trash to a 32-ounce Mason jar that takes six months to fill. As a part of Loam's "Work With What You Have" Project, I am pleased to show you the easiest ways to transition into the trash-free life over the next 30 days, while using items you already own.

Let's start with the basics:

Examine your trash. That's right look into that dark, abyss of a waste bin. What's in there? A bunch of water bottles, last month's magazines, candy wrappers? Take note of what you throw into the trash the most, and begin to make sustainable alternatives.

Refuse. I can't say this any simpler than this: stop buying sh!*. The moment you buy something, it's your responsibility to dispose of it properly, no matter if you're disposing today or in 2 decades. Since most of us already own more than we need, figure out if you can borrow, rent or go without before buying.

Other forms of refusal include opting out of unwanted junk mail, asking for water without a straw and declining individually-wrapped treats.

Use it to the bone. While we're on the subject of things you already own. Be sure to get great use out of your belongings before responsibly disposing. Can you patch up those socks or turn that damaged pot into decor?

Do it good. When you must dispose of something, do it responsibly. First try to go with opportunities where there are closed-looped processes. For instance, The North Face takes back clothes to be recycled into new collections and Terracycle accepts very specific items like writing utensils and unwanted plastic toys to be recycled instead of virgin plastic materials.

Also research material-specific recyclers in your area, like a textile recycler for unwanted underwear and paint recyclers for old paint cans.

Shop around. My bookbag of four years broke two weeks ago. And because I require so much from the businesses I patronize, I've been walking around Atlanta with a busted bookbag until my new bag arrives from Timbuk2. I usually don’t promote brands, but Timbuk2 offers recovery for your old bag, offers a lifetime warranty and promotes biking culture.

Choose to buy from companies with closed-looped processes. Those companies that avoid synthetic materials, offer lifetime warranty and repairs, reduce manufacture waste, promise durability and pay fair wages.

CALL TO ACTION (Instagram/Twitter): Are you interested in the lifestyle, but have burning questions about how it all works, submit zero waste questions to Anamarie. She’s been practicing the lifestyle for a year and four months and blogs about zero waste at Fort Negrita. She will answer questions in the last week of September.

Kate WeinerComment