FAQ


The zero waste lifestyle poses a lot of questions. The concept is so different from what we are all accustomed to that it can seem rather confusing and overwhelming. Because of this, I have gotten asked quite a few things over the last year or so and they seem to be reoccurring questions. To  make it simple, I'll put these questions and answers here. If something is not answered, drop me an email and I'll get it posted as soon as I can.

1. How do I live zero waste without access to bulk options?

 

A. Yes, it would be extremely easy to transition into this lifestyle if we all had access to bulk everything, but we don't. Sadly, having package free food has not become the norm. Worry not, though, because there are ways to live a nearly waste free without bulk! Check out my article below.

 

http://www.zerowastenerd.com/2016/05/7-ways-to-reduce-food-packaging-waste.html

 

2. Where can I get reusable, cloth produce bags?

 

A. Here are a few places you can get them:
Also, it's pretty easy to use scrap fabric that you already have to make some yourself.  

 

3.  If I go zero waste do I have to just replace all of my plastic items right away, if so can I recycle them or do I have to throw them away?

 

A.  No, you do not have to replace all of your plastic items right away. In fact, I suggest that you keep using them until they wear out to at least get all that you can out of them before they make their way to a landfill/recycling center. Now, I do suggest that you at least stop heating your food in your plastic containers in the microwave. That can cause a major amount of BPA to leak into your food. As your plastic items wear out, replace them with more sustainable alternatives like metal, glass, or wood. 

For recycling, because plastic containers and utensils are mostly rated as a 5 or 6, it is more difficult to recycle them. However, there are a few places that will take those numbers.

4. I want to go zero waste but I have pets.

 

A. Yes, pets can add another level of difficulty when attempting to avoid waste. There are ways to significantly reduce waste or even avoid waste all together with a little preparation and planning. 

Rethinking how we approach otherwise wasteful practices is key. For instance, buy food in bulk rather than in plastic bags, use paper bags or newspaper to pick up dog doody instead of using the plastic bags. Use saw dust as cat litter then compost rather than the clay litter, etc. Below is an article I wrote about how to reduce your feline's carbon footprint. A lot of the same ideas and practices can be applied to dogs.

Zero Waste Cat

5. How do you go zero waste if you aren't able to compost or can any of your own goods? 

 

A. Many of us do live without our own backyards. This doesn't mean you cannot garden and can or compost - you just have to go about it a little differently. For composting, look for city compost drop offs or start a vermicomposter in your home. Local farmer's markets can provide you with all of the produce you'd ever need for canning purposes. You can also grow herbs in your home and even start a vertical, indoor garden. If you have a patio, container gardens are very effective! If there is a will, there is a way!

6. I want to go zero waste but I don't want to give up my hobbies that produce some waste.

 

A. Remember, any waste reduction is a success! If zero waste living is causing you to be miserable then be patient with yourself. Eventually, you will find less wasteful alternatives to the hobbies you enjoy. For instance, if you paint, maybe learn how to make natural, homemade paints or look at new mediums.  

7. How do I sell my friends and family on accepting my lifestyle?

 

A. Confidence. Plain and simple. I have found, in my case, that when I approach people who are just now learning about my life style with enthusiasm and confidence they mirror that. Of course, you will not change how your friends and family treat you in a day. It will take repetitive reminding and patience. Don't be rude. You will probably still get plates of food wrapped in plastic from your parents and still get gifts packaged in plastic and wrapped in paper and that's ok. Eventually, they will start to change how they approach these things for you and maybe even change a little bit of their life styles too.

8. Where do you get the bulk of your zero waste items? 

 

A. I consider myself extremely luck to have more than one grocery store that has bulk options near me. I patron a store called Hy Vee and Sprouts for most of my dry goods. For my produce, I either grow it myself or get it from local farmer's markets where food comes package free always. I am also able to get things like soap and bread from the farmer's market package free as well. 

9. I live a busy lifestyle and eat out often and don't cook much at home. Is there a way I can still be zero waste? 

 

A. Yes. My family eats out quite often due to our busy lifestyle. We choose local restaurants that support locally raised food. To avoid waste, we bring our reusable utensils and napkins to avoid any disposables as well as our stainless steel containers so that we can bring home any leftovers without needing to use a styrofoam one. There are even a few restaurants near us that will put our takeout orders in our reusable containers as well.

But don't think that just because you are busy that means that all of your meals must be take out. There are several easy, zero waste options for your to take on the go. Such as: bananas, apples and peanut butter, sandwiches, veggies and hummus, smoothies, trail mix, popcorn, salads, etc. With a little preparation, you can make ahead many zero waste meals for the week so that you can better utilize your time spending with your family rather than cooking. 

10. Where can I buy toilet paper wrapped in paper online?

 

A. It can be difficult in some locations to find toilet paper packaged in just paper and no plastic. There is only a couple of places I have been able to find it in stores in Kansas City. You can purchase it in paper only online, one place in particular is Amazon. The brand Marcal is made from recycled material and will come plastic free if you buy the larger amount - which saves you money anyway. The link is below. Also, wait and purchase when the price is lower  - I usually buy this for around $29.

Buy Toilet Paper Here 

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