I bet most of you know the Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This was drilled into our brains as children in schools all across America. But, how has that really turned out for us?


Let’s take a step back and find out how much we consume or waste in a typical month. For the month of February, I (inspired by my friend Carly Bergman @carly_bergman on IG) challenge you to keep track of how much you waste in a given month.

For this challenge, don’t hold back! Act as if you are going about your day to day life; however, don’t recycle throughout the month and save all of your plastics/recyclables/non-perishable items until the end of the month. Then you can get a real visualization of how much you accumulate as an individual.

I will personally be taking this challenge myself and I’m a little nervous to find out how wasteful I am… Carly took this challenge last year in February and this is what she collected – inspiring her to go zero-waste:

Carly Bergman

What is Zero Waste?

The goal is for zero trash to be sent to landfills incinerators. Everything that you use or consume should be able to be used again in one way or another.

Remember what I mentioned the Three R’s earlier? Those three practices simply aren’t enough for a zero-waste lifestyle. In an effort to change the rhythm we have fallen into, more and more people are adding two more R’s to the list! Repurpose & Refuse.

Repurpose jars, containers, and bags to give them new life!
Refuse single-use plastics when you’re out of the house, “no straw please!”

Mindfully Wasteful

My first step to the zero-waste lifestyle is to become mindful of what I use, throw away, or recycle. It’s okay to still use and consume some of your favorite products. Be mindful of what you do when you are done with them.

Here are a few ways you can be mindful when getting rid of your “trash”:

  1. Compost! Sign up for your city’s compost program (most are free or included with trash services) OR get your own compost bin for your backyard!
  2. Sort and bring your trash to the recycling center yourself, rather than tossing everything in the bin and hoping it goes to the right place.
  3. Find a way to use your piece of trash a few more times before you toss it.
  4. Donate old items, clothes, utensils, etc… rather than just throwing them away.
  5. Use your cleaning and bath products mindfully to ensure that you aren’t overbuying all those single-use plastic containers.

But the most important part of all this is the last ‘R’ Refuse.

  1. Save glass jars to use for rice, beans, nuts, nutritional yeast, etc. when you go grocery shopping.
  2. Tell your waitress or waiter “no straw please” and bring your own to-go containers if you’re expecting leftovers.
  3. Transition to making your own DIY bath and cleaning products (glass jars coming in handy again).
  4. Bring your own grocery bags and produce bags when shopping to save plastic and even paper bags.
  5. Pack a travel cup with you that you can order your coffee and water in rather than using a paper cup or buying a bottle.

it IS possible. it starts with YOU.


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