Zero Waste & Minimalism

We all have goals...

Here in 2018, my 34th year gracing this planet with my presence, I'm taking an overhaul of my life. What's in it, what isn't, how I can give back, and how I can take less. A popular topic these days is Zero Waste, in fact, Austin's Zero Waste initiative has a goal of a 90% reduction in trash sent to landfills by 2040. On a personal level, we can all do better, and with options like composting and bringing reusable containers and bags it's not too hard to start.

Minimalism means not buying.

 zero waste, peaceful place - venice beach

zero waste, peaceful place - venice beach

Mostly, sorta. I watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix, featuring the same guys who inspired me with their book last year, The Minimalists. What they focus on is that there is nothing inherently wrong with material possessions, it's when we associate too much meaning with the things we have or want in exchange for health, relationships and passions that we are caught.

Ultimately, we need to have things to be a human on this planet, and many of these things can make our live's easier and even add joy. Minimalism's focus is on living with less, standing to gain everything, as you define it for yourself. For me, that includes less personal belongings, but really nice ones - and it's really fun for me to find the things and brands I support secondhand, almost like I'm cheating the system or something!

Minimalist and Zero Waste and Mustachian

I love how Minimalism, Zero Waste and the Mustachian lifestyles overlap. You don't need to buy anything to kick-off these lifestyles, and in all 3 cases, the goal is improvement but not necessarily "perfection" - which can be damn tedious.

Tedious like grocery shopping with a Zero Waste plan - even at Whole Foods! I bring in empty containers (which they weigh before I shop) and old plastic bags; despite this, there are some food items that I just love and can't get sans plastic. Tofu and vegan cheese, for example. These things are LIFE for me, and yet, plastic, plastic, plastic.

Things I love.

Ok, being spendy isn't something I recommend, but the following list contains things that don't cost a lot, but make zero waste living a bit more attainable. Also, aside from the Cup, I take great please in finding these items secondhand or on Poshmark - where I found the french press for $11!

Blossom Menstrual Cup - I mean, it's kinda gross. You have to come up close and personal with a cup of your blood. And sometimes it spills. But it is SO good for the environment (no tampons or pads to gunk up our water system) and usually pretty foolproof (see these necessary tips). 

Bodum French Press - Well, this is fancy. But each morning I have my coffee at the perfect strength and without any paper filter waste. The grounds go in the compost bin and I feel like I've had a real treat from this luxe, glass vessel. BONUS: Money saved that would otherwise have been spent at coffeeshops!

Rectangle Reusable / Collapsible Containers (or Circle)- The real struggle at a restaurant is which guilt overwhelms you more? The guilt of leaving food on your plate to go into the trash, or the guilt of asking for a to-go that is in a plastic container. The agony is excruciating and I wind up guilty in either scenario. Coming to the rescue are reusable, collapsible, colorful, BPA-free, microwave-safe containers. You might be able to find these secondhand, but likely you won't know that they are in fact microwave safe unless it's a brand or model you can research on the spot. 

Travel, the conundrum. 

A big conundrum in an eco-friendly life is how to be a digital nomad or traveler while offsetting ones carbon footprint. I don't have a car but I do fly a lot. I'm narrowing in on choosing a city that will be my main residence, but even so, the ability to move about and experience new places is one of my favorite parts of living. Slow travel is one answer to this, where you take a flight somewhere, and then spend time exploring by foot or relying solely on public transport, but there is still that flight!

 offset yourself at carbonfund.org

offset yourself at carbonfund.org

I got this recommendation from Mr. Money Mustache and it is top notch! You can simply go to Carbon Fund's website and calculate your carbon footprint, then, donate to their cause (they are a 501c3) to reduce and offset your own carbon footprint! Cool thing, they're based in Buffalo! I just estimated my own for 2017, and had to make a few guesses (flights I lumped into 3 roundtrips NYC to Buenos Aires, which is approximately in miles how much I flew). I ended up with $117.05 for the year. And yes, I paid it. Duh.

In Summary.

Perfection isn't the thing. I don't think it's possible or realistic. But when it comes to eco-responsibility, a goal is a great thing, and if you're crazy enough to believe you can make an impact, you may just be able to.