How to Conduct a Waste Audit - Day 31 of the Zero Waste Challenge

Waste audits are the ticket to a successful zero waste journey. After all, how can you reduce your trash if you don’t know what you’re throwing away?

How to conduct waste audit from the 31 day zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #zerowastechallenge #ecofriendly #wasteaudit

It’s day 31 of the zero waste challenge. Can you believe it?

It’s the final day of the challenge, and I’m already thinking about next year… like what if the challenge were an app and you got points!? And, at the end of the challenge if you got x number of points you won a prize!?

What do you think? Too much? / Do you know/are you an app developer?

The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase. The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

Today I’m challenging you to perform a waste audit. And, once you’ve mastered it, call up your friends and teach them how to do one too!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

if you don’t know what you’re throwing away, it will be difficult to figure out where you can improve and reduce your waste.

See, I don’t believe that you have to be perfect to make a difference, but if you can identify a few of the major areas you’re creating waste - you can have a massive impact with just a few small changes.

For instance, in your trash can, you find a bunch of paper towels, tetrapaks of nut milk, and food scraps.

Well, with three small changes like breaking up with paper towels, buying cashews from the bulk bins and making your own nut milk, and composting - you’ve eliminated 80% of your house hold waste.

All it took was three small changes!

But, you will never know what your top three changes are without performing a waste audit.

the solution:

All you need is a couple of minutes, a little commitment, and a clipboard or notebook. 

1. get to know your trash:

Dump all of your trash and recycling out and go through it. For each item you find write it on the clipboard.

For each recurring item add a tally mark.

2. organize by tally mark:

This will give you a nice visual road map on how to reduce your trash. You can figure out where you can make the biggest impact. 

I love it when people just want to dive into zero waste, 100%, right away! But, it's hard. There's a lot of changes that you'll be making, and it's important to avoid burn out because it is IMPOSSIBLE to go zero waste overnight. 

It's impossible to do it in a week or even a month! I STILL have products from my PZW days even three years later. 

How to conduct a waste audit day 31 of the zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com
How to conduct a waste audit day 31 of the zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com

3. make some changes:

Now, you can start looking for easy zero waste swaps. Always start with the things you're throwing away most for two reasons.

  1. You'll have make the biggest impact.

  2. You're going to notice an immediate difference. And, humans love instant gratification. 

I'd want to tackle the first five right off the bat. 

PAPER TOWELS: The first thing I would do is start phasing out paper towels for reusable dish towels. Get my six tips for ditching paper towels

FOOD SCRAPS: Then I'd start composting. Composting is one of the best things you can do for the environment! Whether you're in an apartment or have a backyard, there are a lot of options for you to explore.

Before you even get to composting, maybe you can eat those scraps! Check out 8 recipes for using up your food scraps, and my guide to storing your produce without plastic.  

Q-TIPS: You can buy q-tips with paper bases instead of plastic ones and then throw them in your compost! 

JELLO: As far as jello cups go, you could make a big batch of jello from the box. You can recycle or compost the box, and then divide the homemade jello up into individual containers like these*.

Not all schools allow glass in lunch boxes, so a stainless one* might be a good option instead of plastic. 

COFFEE CUPS: Avoiding coffee cups is pretty easy! Check out all my tips in this post about The Big Four

4. repeat: 

Your trash probably changes from week to week. Keep checking in on your trash and recycling to see where you can easily improve. I recommend doing this once every couple of months.

Obviously, there will always be some unavoidable trash. The first thing that pops into my mind is medication. 

I get a lot of people emailing me asking how to handle the trash with their medication.... and my answer is always the same. 

YOUR HEALTH COMES FIRST!!! 

I will scream it from the rafters. Do NOT let any other person tell you differently. I've seen some other prominent zero wasters say some scary things....

So, one more time for the people in the back, ***your health always comes first!*** 

The fact of the matter is that we lived in a flawed system. For more information read this post about the true meaning of zero waste. It's so long, it got it's own audio file so you can listen while on the go! 

Don't look at what you can't do, always look at what you CAN do. There's so many things you can do that don't involve medication. And, seriously, if you changed everything in your life except medication, that's freaking amazing!! 

Celebrate! Cause you're awesome. :) 

take the challenge!

I can’t believe this is my final challenge for you this year. I’m getting a little emotional.

I’m challenging you to perform a waste audit this week, and swap out your most common items for zero waste alternatives (if there is one).

Most likely there is. If you need any inspiration check out my post The Ultimate List of Zero Waste Swaps.


Did I do a good job covering the zero waste basics?

How do you feel now that you’ve gone through 31 days of challenges? Is your trash can lighter? Your recycling bin less full? I would love to know how the challenge worked out for you! Let me know in the comments below!

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

Beginners Guide to Getting Politically Involved - Day 30 of the Zero Waste Challenge

Local government is almost more important than the federal government. If you want to start seeing change fast, this is where you need to start. 

But, it seems scary right? Like how do you even get started? I'm going to break it down into some super simple steps.

Beginners guide to getting politically involved from the 31 day zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #politicallyinvolved #activism #zerowaste #zerowastechallenge

It’s day thirty of the zero waste challenge! We only have ONE. DAY. MORE! Can you believe it!?

The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase. The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

Today I’m challenging you to get involved in your local government….

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

People just aren’t stepping up and harnessing the power they have! My generation has an appalling voter turn out and I can’t imagine that our rate for getting involved in local government is any better.

Today, I’m going to show you a few ways that you can start creating waves in your town.

the solution:

I’m going to offer you several solutions to becoming more politically active.

1. get behind a cause and bring it to your city council:

With the group you found in yesterday’s challenge, consider backing a bill like a straw ban or bag ban. You can also try and organize a city wide cleanup that’s recurring every year and hosted by the city.

To find out how to get a bill in front of your city council check out my blog post How to Get Involved with Local Government.

2. start a petition:

Ever wonder why you always see people collecting signatures? What are they going to do with all of them? There are three different types of petitions.

  1. ballot initiative: this is a piece of legislation that will be up for vote on the ballot. If the community is on your side, but you don’t think city council would pass your idea - this is where you go! Creating this petition doesn’t enact the law, it just puts it on the ballot and the citizens of your town will decide whether or not it should be passed on election day.

  2. non-binding referendum: This doesn’t result in any type of voting. It is only used to show support in favor or against a certain law. It basically advises the city council and shows them how the general population of the town is feeling towards a certain issue.

  3. binding referendum: This tries to change the laws whether to have a vote repealed or to suspend an elected official etc.

Your city and town will have an official way of dealing with petitions. You need to file your petition in accordance with their rules, so be sure to head over to your local .gov to read up!

3. VOTE

Are you registered to vote? Double check in case you don’t know. Then make sure you vote. Not just for president but for all of your local elections. It’s incredibly important who you appoint to your city council.

Here’s some great websites to help you choose candidates that align with your values and a great website to help you choose impartial judges. It’s a judges job to interpret the laws not legislate from the bench.

4. join a lobby:

I can’t recommend joining the Citizens Climate Lobby enough. It’s a great organization that advocates for a fair carbon tax.

If you’re looking to get in touch with your representatives and advocate for the Earth, then this is the organization for you.

5. run for office:

People tend to look at me like I have three eyes when I say this, but you should run for office! If you have good ideas and care about your town, why not you?

If you’re looking to get started check out She Should Run. It’s a site dedicated to helping female candidates run for office. Also check with your state party headquarters. Depending on where you live, they might be looking for candidates to back.

You can always volunteer with local state party as well. I have spent many a day at the DPA (Democratic Party of Arkansas) phone banking and canvassing for candidates.

take the challenge!

It’s time to get involved with your local government.

I challenge you to sign up for the CCL and make sure that you’re registered to vote today.

My second challenge is for you to pick a pet project. Is that a bag ban? Straw ban? Have businesses start charging for takeout containers instead of having them included in the price? Is it hosting a city wide clean up?

Whatever your pet project is, I want you to work with the group you just found and create an action plan to bring it to a vote this next year.

Are you up for the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

Start a Local Zero Waste Group - Day 29 of the Zero Waste Challenge

Having a local community is amazing! Together you can achieve so much and create a true grassroots movement in your town.

You can talk about the environmental and social issues in your town allowing you to really create a custom and actionable plan to help everyone in your community live a greener and healthier life. 

So, how do you find people who are interested in the environment? How do you get a group started?

Start a local zero waste group from the 31 day zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #zerowasteactivism

It’s day twenty-nine of the zero waste challenge! The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase. The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

Today, I’m challenging you to find or create a local zero waste group!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

Cue the music *One is the loneliest number….*

When you’re just one person, making mega lifestyle changes, it can feel pretty gosh darn isolating. It can feel very *Us vs. Them*. It’s hard to find answers to the problems you might have, and it’s just not as fun.

After all, it’s been proven that having accountability increases the chances of achieving goals.

And, while having an online community is great, having an in person community is EVEN BETTER.

the solution:

First step is trying to plug into an existing community. Chances are, somewhere out there, there’s already a group in your town. Here’s my top tips for finding them.

1. facebook:

This is always my first recommendation. There are several large groups on Facebook like Journey to Zero Waste and Zero Waste Heroes. There might also be a zero waste group for your country, city, or state! 

Use the search tool on Facebook and set it to groups. Search zero waste with your country or state name and something might pop up! I know there's one for Arkansas

In these larger generic groups, there are comment threads where people leave the country, state, or city they're living. Through these threads you can start finding people in your area.

Once you find a group in your general vicinity, create separate group (assuming there isn't one already) for your country or state. Then people will be able to find your group and niche down into smaller groups by county or city.

I also run a "secret" Facebook group that includes daily threads to help others on their zero waste journey. Click here if you'd like to join.

2. meetup.com:

Another great place to look is on meetup.com. There seem to be meet-ups for everything! Just with a quick glance I see a whole bunch of groups that have a lot of zero waste potential. 

Groups like litter busters, foragers, zero net energy, climate election action, climate solutions, ecology leadership group, gardening, community building, and many more that aren't directly linked to zero waste, but they're definitely applicable and could go a long way in helping you meet like minded people. 

If you can't find a zero waste group plug into one that is similar. Once you start to build friendships and get to know the organizers, you can pitch zero waste activities for the groups.

If the zero waste projects ever become more dominant, think of starting your own zero waste meet-up where you can focus solely on those activities. 

3. neighborhood apps:

Once you've found a community through Facebook or Meetup.com, try to find new members through a neighborhood app. 

Next Door is a really popular app in my neighborhood, and it's a great tool used to organize community cleanups and tell neighbors about ongoing events. 

Definitely reach out to your neighbors, you never know there might be a new zero waste friend right next door!  

4. publicize and share: 

Once the group is in the full swing of things, make sure you're publicizing your group. You want people to be able to find you and join your cause. 

If you started a new group, consider adding your group to Facebook or Meetup.com.

Don't forget to reach out to local businesses too!

Now, I know what I'm going to say might sound contradictory, but if you do make a flyer... it's nice to hang it in local businesses around town. 

I still think physical bulletin boards are a great way to get out a message. 

Don’t forget about digital town bulletin boards like one on your local .gov website and reach out to your local paper!

5. Help! I don’t have ANYTHING!!

If you don’t have anything, then it’s time for you to start it! Create a group on meetup.com or Facebook. Kick the group off with hosting an event.

Maybe it’s just a time to get together, sip coffee, and chat about sustainability.

Make sure that you set a regular meeting time. Start with once a month, and then ask the members to publicize the group their friends and then maybe tackle and event together.

community inspiration:

Once you find this community there is so much you can do together.

Together, there's so much you can achieve! 

Creating a group is a great way to be a steward of your own community and truly grow the zero waste movement.

I personally believe, getting involved on a local level is what this movement needs. I would love to see more people working with their town and community. It's an important building block in the big picture of a more eco-friendly world. 

If you’re looking for a more in depth guide on hosting events, workshops, etc. I go into more detail in my book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste. It’s available for pre-order and I would love it if you checked it out!

take the challenge!

Finding a local community is one of the best ways to enact change in your town. Online community is awesome, but it’s the real life community that get’s it done!

My challenge for you is to find your local zero waste community. I outlined several different places for you to try and find them. Join up with that group and go to one of their meetings.

Will you take the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

Shop Local - Day 28 of the Zero Waste Challenge

Most of the products available on store shelves are made overseas. When things are made far away from you, they have to travel a long ways to make it onto store shelves. This can incur higher carbon emissions.

It won’t be possible to buy everything local, but today, I challenge you to support your local community and buy locally made products when possible.

Shop local day 28 of the zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowastechallenge #ecofriendly #shoplocal

It’s day twenty eight of the zero waste challenge! There are only three more days of the challenge left: Congrats for getting this far!

The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase. The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

(I will say a couple of posts are out of order. We had an activism post earlier in the challenge and we’ll have a lifestyle change in this section, but you can forgive me, right!? Thanks :)

Today we’re talking about shopping locally.

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

Often times when we buy things, they might come from overseas or really far away maybe it’s clothing rack made in China or tomatoes during winter that came from Mexico. If you buy summer produce in the dead of winter, it’s most likely coming from the opposite hemisphere, so by living local, we’re buying things that come from our immediate vicinity.

Whenever things are transported from far away, it uses a lot of emissions. By buying things closer, it uses fewer emissions. This is great for both the environment and supporting local members of your community.

Whenever you’re shopping for food, go for a local farmers market. They’ll have the freshest, locally grown produce around, all package free.

If you’re shopping for things, like soap, candles or handmade goods, there are typically a lot of people in your community who are really crafty you can purchase from and support.

I recommend doing a quick search online to see what’s available near you. If you’re searching for handmade soap, for example, type that into the search bar, then your city (ex: handmade soap in your city). You might be surprised at what pops up.

You can also try Etsy and find makers who live close to your vicinity. At the very least, you’ll know the product is handcrafted with love and care, and your purchase will help support a small business.

I encourage you to also go to local flea markets and see what stands pop up – a lot of great local businesses don’t always have the strongest online presence. You can also walk around your town and see what you come across (mom and pop businesses are always great to support, if you find one).

Shopping local is just this really beautiful system: You’re supporting a member of your community and when they pay their taxes, the tax dollars go back into the community. This only helps improve your community even further.

I also notice a lot of these mom and pop shops are very accommodating when it comes to bringing your own containers.

There’s a fabulous shop in my town downtown that sells things like soap, incense and bath teas, and the shop owner sells shea butter and cocoa - two things you will see commonly in my DIY recipes.

The shop owner sells them in plastic tubs. But I can give her a call and come over and she will put them in my mason jar!

It’s just so nice to be able to make that connection and having those face to face interactions rather than going through a cooperation.

Here are a few ways to live as local as possible:

  • Shop for fresh produce at your local farmers market.

  • Ask your local farmers what’s in season for your region.

  • Find mom and pop shops that you can support.

  • Locate a small coffee shop that’s unique to your vicinity to frequent.

  • Attend local flea markets, fairs, conventions and festivals to meet your local makers.

  • Do a quick online search for homemade goods in your area.

  • Take a visit to your local farm, if your state has one.

  • Know someone who’s crafty? Pay them to make you something only they could create.

  • Support your local thrift store.

  • Go and support your local library, makers space and community center.

  • Go to your local deli and get cheese and bread package free in your own containers.

  • Support your local butcher and get your meat in glassware.

  • Find a local florist who sells plastic free flowers grown without pesticides.

  • Locate a bulk food shop near you and bring your own containers.

There are so many ways to support your local community, but these are just a few.

You don’t always have to purchase something in order to support your community either. Simply picking up litter, joining a community garden, or participating in a local group that shares your ethics can help your town ton loads.  

So, my challenge for you today is to live local.

take the challenge!

Over the next 3 days, your challenge is to live local.

Instead of supporting brands and businesses that are overseas, shop local. This means finding your local farmers market, homemade goods, mom and pop shops, and getting involved in your community. When you support smaller businesses you are driving money back into your community and reducing emissions at the same time.

Will you be taking the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

Tips for Secondhand Shopping - Day 27 of the Zero Waste Challenge

It takes a lot of energy and resources to make new products. Remember when we talked about buying less in day one of the zero waste challenge?

While buying less is certainly part of the solution, so is buying second hand or asking your friends and family if they have an extra one lying around you could borrow and/or have.

Today, I challenge you to shop second hand and purchase products already in the waste stream.

tips for shopping second hand for day 27 of the zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowastechallenge #secondhandshopping

It’s day twenty seven of the zero waste challenge! There’s only four days left of the challenge – we’ve come a long way!

The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase. The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

(I will say a couple of posts are out of order. We had an activism post earlier in the challenge and we’ll have a lifestyle change in this section, but you can forgive me, right!? Thanks :)

Today we’re talking about shopping second hand!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

Every item purchased second hand means one less new one produced. Every item, even something small like a t-shirt takes a lot of time, energy and resources.

Clothing, particularly, fast fashion has some questionable ethics, and can be wasteful and harmful to the environment. Producing synthetic fibers like polyester requires energy and crude oil like petroleum. Yep - polyester is plastic!

Even garments that utilize natural fibers, like cotton, use a ton of water. It takes 27,000 gallons of water to make the cotton for one t-shirt! (source) Conventionally grown cotton makes up just 2.5 percent of total cropland, but uses 16 percent of the world’s pesticides.

And, if the clothing you’re buying, isn’t made local to you, you also have to take into consideration the fossil fuels used in transportation.

Once we have the t-shirt in our possession, how many times do we wear it? When does it get thrown out with the next tidying session? One of the biggest problems regarding garments in particular is textile waste.

According to the Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation “Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. An estimated USD 500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled. “

Of course, this applies to far more than just t-shirts, but also furniture, jewelry, toys, they all take energy and resources to create.

the solution:

Don’t support this cycle of constant consumption and exploitation of the earth.

Choose to shop second hand instead.

By purchasing second hand, you aren’t supporting this waste of time, energy and resources. In fact, you’re keeping items out of the landfill.

Go visit your local thrift store and see how many items, still in great condition, are being sold. You’ll be amazed at how much backstory, history and value the items available. You might also find something that truly speaks to you!

You can also find some great second hand things online using ebay or even craigslist. Even Facebook Marketplace can be a valuable asset in finding things local to you, second hand.

I personally love second hand shopping. So many of my homewares and clothing is second hand.

One of my favorite things about second hand pieces are the stories. You’re part of its story now. And, when you pass it on, maybe it will be part of someone else’s story, and I think that’s really special.

I have a pearl necklace that was my grandmother’s. It started out as a long strand of pearls that were split into six different necklaces for all of the girls in the family. It’s just so special and buying a new pearl necklace wouldn’t have nearly the amount of warm, fuzzy memories attached with it.

Several other items I wear are second hand too, like my engagement ring and my wedding bands.

I’m telling you – there are so many amazing things on the second hand market.

You also don’t have to actually purchase items in order to support second hand values – you can also get items second hand from loved ones. Always ask around before buying an item to see if someone has a spare first.

I do link to products that I own, but often times you’ll see me say “please check the second hand market first”. I also love supporting sustainable businesses and think we need both to thrive, but that’s another post for another time.

Of course, some things are better bought new - like a toothbrush. ;)

take the challenge!

Over the next 4 days, your challenge is to shop second hand.

New items take a lot of time, resources, and energy to make.

Instead, choose to buy items that are already out there. This means one less new item will be produced and ensures a perfectly good item stays out of the landfill. You can find so many things from clothes to housewares on the second hand market: the possibilities are endless.

Will you be taking the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

How to Stop Junk Mail - Day 26 of the Zero Waste Challenge

Junk mail is annoying, and I’m going to show you all the ways you can breakup with junk mail - for good!

5 tips for stopping junkmail from the zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #zerowastechallenge #junkmail

Today, I’m challenging you to spend 30 minutes unsubscribing from the junk mail you receive.

It’s day twenty-six of the zero waste challenge! The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase. The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

(I will say a couple of posts are out of order. We had an activism post earlier in the challenge and we’ll have a lifestyle change in this section, but you can forgive me, right!? Thanks :)

Today, I’m challenging you to stop junk mail!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

Yes, junk mail is annoying, but it’s also carbon heavy. 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gas is caused by junk mail each year. And, 44% of all that junk mail goes to the landfill unopened.  

YIKES.

Junk mail seems small. But, it's the perfect example of how one small thing has an enormous impact when multiplied by millions of people.

100 million trees are cut down annually just to feed the junk mail machine. Sending junk mail is super cheap too. It costs almost 50 cents to send a letter, but it only costs 11 cents to send a flyer or circular. Which makes me wonder... why? 

Why are we essentially subsidizing something we don't want? We pay A LOT of money to dispose of junk mail - 370 million dollars to be exact. In fact, it costs 550 million dollars a year to transport it alone. 

Americans will spend 8 months of their life, just dealing with junk mail! What a complete and utter waste of time. 

If zero waste is truly about reducing our consumption of resources and saving time, junk mail seems like the perfect place to start. It's entirely unnecessary, and it all it takes is a little bit of effort. 

5 tips for stopping junkmail from the zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #zerowastechallenge #junkmail

the solution:

I’ve rounded up my five top tips for preventing junk mail.

1. write a note: 

I have a sticker on my mailbox that clearly states, "NO JUNK MAIL." You can also just tape a note to your mail box. You don’t have to have a fancy sticker.l

According to the Post Master General, this constitutes as an official return to sender. You can also ask for addressed mail only and add your last name. 

Of course, this doesn't stop the creation of junk mail. It just stops you from receiving it. It also doesn't stop junk mail that is coming with your name on it. 

This is just a temporary fix while we work on stopping junk mail in other ways.

2. register for the do not mail list: 

The do not mail list is essentially the same as the do not call list. Get your name removed from the list to stop junk mail before it even happens. 

It can take several weeks for all of the opt-outs to take effect. Sign up and have a little bit of patience. 

3. use an app:

Sometimes, opting out still doesn't work. It took about a year before all of my opt-outs finally kicked in, but some things still come through. 

Check out the app PaperKarma. It's simple to use. You simply take a picture of the unwanted junk mail and they unsubscribe you. 

4. ask when you sign up:

Most of my junk mail comes from charities I donate to. Getting junk mail from them, honestly makes me not want to donate….

Most of my donations are set up on a recurring withdrawal. I don't need a junk mail reminder. It's automatically deducted. 

Most non-profits don't use national databases, therefore you're still on the mailing list even if you opt out. When I donate to a charity, I always ask that I be removed from their mailing lists upfront with the donation. Typically they’re more than happy to oblige.

5. pick up the phone: 

This is my least favorite method (what can I say, I’m a millennial who hates getting on the phone), but arguably the most effective method. Pick up the phone, call, and ask to be removed from their mailing list. 

This is the most time-consuming method. It can also be very painful when you call and call and somehow still receive junk mail. But, your patience and perseverance will soon be rewarded with an empty mailbox. 

5 tips for stopping junkmail from the zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #zerowastechallenge #junkmail

take the challenge:

Junk mail is a nuisance, and it’s not super great for the environment. Besides, I don’t know a single person that really looks forward to receiving a bunch of newsletters and flyers in their mail box.

Spend 30 minutes, unsubscribing yourself from mailing lists and put a note on your mailbox asking for addressed mail only.

Will you be taking the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

Be Prepared and Avoid Trash - Day 25 of the Zero Waste Challenge

Did you know most waste can be prevented simply by being prepared? Today, I challenge you to think ahead before you go somewhere to assess what you’ll need to stay waste free.

be prepared and avoid trash! Day 25 of the zero waste challenge from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowastechallenge #zerowaste #beprepared

It’s day twenty five of the zero waste challenge! We only have six days left of the challenge – think you can hang in there?

The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase. The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

(I will say a couple of posts are out of order. We had an activism post earlier in the challenge and we’ll have a lifestyle change in this section ((kinda like this one)), but you can forgive me, right!? Thanks :)

Today we’re talking all about being prepared!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

Yes, the boy scout motto and the zero waste motto are one in the same. Be prepared.

A lot of times when we’re out and about, we tend to be rushing. That makes us more prone to making bad, quick decisions.

For example, if you’re in a rush, you might grab a cup of coffee in a disposable cup instead of asking for it to stay. Or, if you rushed out of the house in the morning, you might grab lunch at work in a disposable plastic container.

This problem stems largely from not being prepared for the day ahead. When you’re rushing about your day, you aren’t thinking ahead, but thinking in the moment. It’s important to remember that something convenient to you in the moment, isn’t convenient to the Earth.

Of course, we all have bad days, but the goal is to have more good days than bad day. A way to guarantee more good days is to build systems!

And, hopefully, throughout this challenge, you’ve been able to build some good habits.

the solution:

I find that so much waste can easily be prevented just by being prepared. Before you go to bed tonight or first thing when you wake up in the morning, ask yourself, what am I going to do today? Or, what am I going to do tomorrow?

We typically have a pretty good idea of what our days look like day to day. By thoroughly thinking through everything we do, or everywhere we’re going, we can figure out ways that can easily prevent waste. Sometimes it’s just that simple.

One of my favorite ways to stay prepared is by having a zero waste to go kit. Maybe it’s something you keep by your door or in your car. It’s just a small collection of items that can help you prevent waste.

Here’s some idea of what you can include in yours:

  • Stainless steel water bottle

  • Reusable straws

  • Travel mug

  • Cloth napkins

  • Reusable cutlery

  • Tote bag

  • Produce bags

Placing these items in your line of sight or with you will help you prevent a ton of waste. Of course, you don’t always need to carry all these items at the same time. I personally, don’t like being a pack mule.

I only take a mug with me when I know I’ll be going out to grab tea or a smoothie or my bags with me when I know I’m going to be shopping.

It all depends on what you’re doing that day and how structured/scheduled your days are. If you know you’ll be going food shopping later in the day, make sure to pack extra tote bags and produce bags.

If you’ll just be going to work and back, make sure to pack your zero waste lunch. Going to a movie? Pack some zero waste snacks in your bag ahead of time.

Take a moment to just think about your day before starting it and think ahead. Doing this one simple thing will greatly reduce your waste.

So that is my challenge to you – be prepared.

take the challenge!

Over the next 6 days, your challenge is to be prepared. Instead of rushing out of the house in the morning, take a few minutes to make sure you have any zero waste items you might need for the day.

Will you be grabbing coffee, getting lunch, going shopping? Grab any zero waste essentials you’ll need to stay one step ahead of the game.

Will you be taking the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

Vote With Your Dollars - Day 24 of the Zero Waste Challenge

We’re covering the old adage, “Vote with your wallet.” “Vote with your dollars.” “Put your money where your mouth is,” and other cliches.

You don’t just vote at the ballot box during election season, you vote every. single. day. I’m going to teach you how to harness that power and use it!

Of course, this is only one small piece of the puzzle. We’ll be covering other action steps late in the challenge. But, if you’re feeling a little impatient be sure to check out my blog post and video how to fight climate change as one person. 

Vote with your dollars day 24 of the zero waste challenge from www.hoinhzerowaste.com #zerowaste #zerowastechallenge #ecofriendly #votewithyourdollars

It’s day twenty-four of the zero waste challenge! Welcome back. The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase. The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

(I will say a couple of posts are out of order. We had an activism post earlier in the challenge and we’ll have a lifestyle change in this section, but you can forgive me, right!? Thanks :)

Today we’re talking about voting with your dollars!

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

We the people. We the consumer. We the demand.

We, surprisingly have a lot of say in what gets made and purchased. Companies simply supply what we ask for. For instance, if we all go gangbusters over quinoa or avocados, companies are going to start supplying a lot more quinoa and avocados.

If we go nuts over cheaply made, plastic clothing - then companies are going to start making a lot of cheap, plastic clothing.

If we go nuts over sustainable products, then a lot of companies are going to start selling sustainable products. We have certainly seen a massive increase in sustainable companies in the last few years. Especially with a zero waste and plastic free slant.

The problem, of course, is that there’s a lot of disconnect. Most people don’t see individual action as a viable course of action. They choose to blame everything on companies, but continue to support the very institutions that are responsible for a lot of destruction.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying companies are blameless. They have a lot of responsibility to hold for this as well. I am saying that there is responsibility on both ends.

The consumer must first act, so policies and businesses can react.

No business is going to start, if there isn’t even some demand in the market.

the solution:

Vote with your dollars! Every day you get to choose what type of world you want to live in with your choices.

I’m not saying you going to be perfect, of course not. We don’t live in a perfect world. But, we can still make strides to do better. We can make better choices.

So, try to make more positive purchasing choices and implement some of the daily actions we’ve discussed in the challenge like bringing your own mug or brewing your own coffee, saying no to straws, and packing your snacks!

When it comes to making purchasing choices, try to buy from ethical brands. Look for brands that give back to causes, brands that pay a living wage, brands that have a mission statement around sustainability.

I love shopping secondhand, because I love reducing my impact by removing items from the waste stream. But, I also really love supporting ethical and sustainable businesses. I want to see ethical and sustainable businesses succeed.

take the challenge!

The next time you’re in the market for something. Go ahead and wait those thirty days to make sure it’s something that you truly need, and then if it is. Try and source it from a sustainable brand.

You challenge is to google the companies you regularly buy from. Pick 5 to start. See if they align (mostly) with your values.

There aren’t many companies that check off 100% of my boxes, so I try to get 85% checked when shopping. To learn more about this practice see my blog post How to Make the Best Choice for the Environment.

Will you take the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

I’m the head content creator over at pelacase.com and have partnered with them to create an email version of the challenge. I will be sending out weekly recap letters with Pela if you’d prefer to have this challenge in larger chunks and delivered straight to your inbox.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook. Which is all about individual ways to fight climate change. You don’t want to miss it.

miss a day?

5 Easy Beauty DIYs - Day 23 of the Zero Waste Challenge

I love creating an easy DIY. It’s a great way to save money and reduce your waste. I know that a lot of people don’t have access to a lot of fancy clean beauty products without packaging, but never fear - I’ve rounded up my five favorite and EASY zero waste DIYs.

5 Easy, Zero Waste Beauty DIYS from www.goingzerowaste.com 31 Day Zero Waste Challenge #zerowaste #zerowastechallenge #beauty #DIY

Today, I challenge you to try your hand at creating a DIY!

It’s day twenty-three of the zero waste challenge! The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

Now, we’re in the second phase of the challenge. These changes are lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources. Tomorrow and for the final week of the challenge, we’re going to get into more activism!

Today we’re talking about creating easy zero waste DIYs.

Prefer video content? Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

the problem:

A lot of people don’t have access to amazing bulk stores like Rainbow Grocery that have shampoo, bath salts, body lotion, and all sorts of amazing products without packaging.

An easy way to reduce waste is to DIY some of those products! Of course, I don’t think that you have to DIY everything, and now there are so many companies popping up with relatively zero waste options.

When I started Going Zero Waste in 2015, there were few options. I enjoy DIYing my products because I like having control over what ingredients I put into them.

I started going zero waste because I was trying to avoid endocrine disruptors. You can read more about my zero waste story. Endocrine disruptors can be found in our beauty products, cleaning products, and plastic.

5 Easy, Zero Waste Beauty DIYS from www.goingzerowaste.com 31 Day Zero Waste Challenge #zerowaste #zerowastechallenge #beauty #DIY

the solution:

Why not try your hand at a DIY? There are so many incredibly simple DIYs out there that will prevent a ton of packaging waste.

As a bonus, they’ll save you a lot of money.

I used to be the DIY queen. I had tons of DIYs rolling out all the time, but over the last year I saved all the good recipes for my book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste which is available for pre-order!

The book includes a ton of never before seen beauty and cleaning recipes - definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in natural living and want to reduce your waste.

Of course, I’ve still got a ton of easy recipes on the blog I’m excited to share. On the recipe posts, I explain where I bought the supplies without packaging!

I also have a YouTube video tutorial on how to make most of these products so be sure to check them out if you prefer video content.

1. tooth powder:

I love this zero waste tooth powder. I worked on it with a local dentist. It’s so simple and only three ingredients. If you’re interested in getting the whitening version, be sure to check out the recipe in my book!

Recipe for the Zero Waste Tooth Powder

2. lip scrub:

This recipe is so simple to make and easily customizable. You can choose a