Zero-Waste is more than a business strategy, it is a movement. Want to learn how to live a Zero-Waste a Lifestyle? Start at home.
At Zero Waste Solutions (ZWS), we built our business and brand on the principals of protecting human health and eliminating all unnecessary waste for our clients. For example, at Columbus Air Force Base (CAFB), ZWS designed and implemented a Green Cleaning Program, which resulted in the elimination of 1,598.2 pounds of hazardous material content from their operations. However, you don’t need to be a business to make major environmental impact. In fact, you can significantly eliminate unnecessary waste through simple and mindful actions. The following is a list of our beginner tips and tricks to help you stay ecofriendly and get you started on improving the future of your home, wherever you are.
Before we outline our steps, we believe that it is just as important to “walk the walk” as it is to “talk the talk” at home for these ethical and efficient reasons:
Household waste decisions have a huge impact on the environment.
Throwing away just one single plastic bottle, as opposed recycling it, results in wasting the same amount of energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours, creates 20 percent more air pollution, and 50 percent more water pollution1. Further, as household organic waste decomposes in landfills, it emits methane gas, which has a global warming potential (GWP) over 20 times as strong as carbon dioxide2.
Many household cleaning products are toxic to human health and the environment.
What can be more important than the health and wellbeing of your family? The Environmental Working Group released a study indicating that 53 percent of reviewed cleaning products contained ingredients that are hurtful to lungs, including several well-known carcinogens3.
The principals we hold in the world (and business) should be reflected in our personal lives.
The home is where we live, love, and laugh, and therefore, central to who we are as human beings. To be good stewards of the earth, we must first be good stewards of our household. To be effective agents of change, we must “think globally and act locally,” and your home is as local as you can get.
So, what can you do to drive your home towards Zero-waste?
Implement these five alternatives/strategies to help direct household items back into circulation, rather than the landfill and reduce the waste in your home:
You may be thinking “hang on, I already recycle…” However, did you know that while 75 percent of U.S. household waste is recyclable, but only 30 percent actually gets recycled?44> Each city has its own rules and legislation, so it is important to understand and practice the local requirements to make sure your recyclables don’t end up in a landfill despite your good intentions. To clarify your recycling options, there are dozens of websites dedicated to making recycling easy. If you’re not sure what can be recycled and what cant, Earth911 provides a search database that identifies recycling centers and areas that will take your items and recycle them properly!
Composting alone can reduce your household waste by 30 percent and reduce your carbon footprint as well5. It can be used to enrich soil and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Composting involves just three ingredients (browns, greens, and water), leaving nature to do the rest! Here’s a comprehensive guide to get your composting journey started. There are so many resources to start composting there’s almost no excuse—you can find a range of affordable options for Compost Bins and Liners on Amazon (some including prime shipping!). Once your compost has the rich consistency you’ve been waiting for, you’ll truly be satisfied helping your garden flourish.
The average American throws away over eighty pounds of clothes each year. Did you know that one cotton shirt takes 700 gallons of water to make and 40 years to decompose6? Instead of contributing to waste, donating your old clothing (or other items such as furniture) to charities like Goodwill or Salvation Army (find your local drop-off location here) can help families in need. This reduces material waste and the impacts of production by reducing the demand for new clothes. Also, it’s a tax write off!
If you want to amplify your positive impacts, engage your local community (e.g. local schools) and ask your friends and family if they have any old clothes that they were thinking about throwing away.
Many household products are hazardous or toxic to human health and the environment. One way to ensure that your household products are safe for the environment and your family’s health is to look for Green Seal certified products. Green Seal Certification ensures that “a product meets rigorous performance, health, and environmental criteria.”
Look for Green Seal-certified products wherever you do your regular shopping. If they don’t carry any, ask the manager if they can order some to show there is a local interest for these types of products. Alternatively, you can find such products on the Green Seal website (click here).
There are unlimited ways to get creative and repurpose household items rather than throwing them away. For example, Jai and I were renovating our home, so instead of throwing an old door and bathroom tiles away, we used them to create a beautiful mosaic table top that currently adorns our garden. In addition, we save our paper towel rolls and use them for storing plastic bags and keeping cords untangled. Before anything goes in the trash, think “what could this be used for?” It’s fun!
Remember, when it comes to improving your environmental footprint, there is no place like home!
Shavila Singh, President & Jai Sharma, VP of Business Relations