Before You Aim for Zero Waste, Read This

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We're a conscientious generation, and sustainability is imperative for huge swathes of us. We want ethical supply chains and simple living and beer that gives back. Minimizing harm is a big selling point for us.


Some people will always want to go farther, though. It's not enough to eliminate plastic straws or switch to green office supplies: Zero-waste advocates want to break the cycle of trash and pollution by cutting out the extras before they even go to landfill.

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If you're curious about zeroing out or even diminishing your household waste by a little, Apartment Therapy has you covered. There, activist Stevie Van Horn has laid out some tips for scaling back on consumer waste and creating the mindset to stick with your goals. First things first: You'll want to taper before going cold turkey. Take stock of where you want to cut back and begin using up what you already have. Once you've responsibly gotten rid of your single-use plastic baggies and eco-unfriendly cleaning products, look for opportunities to introduce more sustainable containers and methods.


One big imperative in the zero-waste movement is, ironically, difficult for some people to internalize. The goal is to consume less, which means you don't necessarily have to buy new, more environmentally friendly versions of stuff you already own. If you're shopping to plug a hole in your living room or because you're anxious about something, "Take a breath, think if you really need it, and move forward," Van Dorn says.

Also keep in mind that your individual actions aren't a purity test for your commitment to saving the planet. Some things that seem super wasteful, like meal kit deliveries, are a more responsible choice than you'd think. Climate change and its causes are systemic and often corporate or industrial in nature. If a frugal or zero-waste lifestyle is getting in the way of you living, it's just fine to cut yourself some slack. Those don't have to be your only forms of personal responsibility or activism, and no matter what, every little bit is going to help.