One of the best ways to protect our planet from further destruction is to eliminate as much waste from our lives as possible. You can aim to eliminate ALL waste, but that’s pretty hard to do in a place like Bermuda where we don’t have plastic-free bulk food stores and we only recycle the basics like glass and aluminum. Still though, it’s definitely worth making it your goal to decrease your consumption of non-recyclable materials, and here’s how.
1. Say NO to Plastic Straws, Utensils and Bags
Perhaps the most basic of trash-free rules is to not accept or use plastic utensils, straws or bags and carry reusable items instead.
2. Say Goodbye to New Clothing
Second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world. Reduce your own fashion waste footprint by shopping second-hand at vintage, consignment and thrift stores. If you absolutely have to buy new clothing, aim to buy high-quality pieces that will last you a long time versus pieces from fast-fashion brands like Zara, FashionNova, Gap, Old Navy and H&M.
3. Do a Book Trade
Instead of buying new books, borrow and lend already-read books with family or friends or make use of the community libraries located around the island (the ones at Shelly Bay, Spittal Pond and the Arboretum are especially good!)
4. Buy Shampoo and Conditioner from Salt+Cedar
Hair products don’t have to come from plastic bottles! Zero waste shampoo and conditioner bars are low in cost and contain all-natural ingredients like honey, lemon juice and raspberry seed oil. To purchase your own, click here.
You don’t need a big yard to compost your food scraps – even if you live in a small apartment you can use a plastic storage bin (see video on how to do that here). Composting helps in the production of healthy, nutrient-dense soil which decreases the need for chemical fertilizers. Composting also reduces our carbon footprint because it means less waste going to Tynes Bay.
6. Stop Buying Paper Towels
We’ve convinced ourselves that paper towels are absolutely essential to our lives but in fact, before paper towels were introduced in 1931, humans got by with reusable cloths instead. Think about how much paper towel you use each week, then multiply that by the number of weeks in a year. It’s indisputable: we’re using A LOT of paper towel! There are wonderful alternatives available for purchase online, like this product that replaces 6 months of paper towels in one roll.
7. Use a Bamboo Toothbrush
For just $10 pick up a bamboo toothbrush from Salt + Cedar. Their bristles are great, the toothbrush in entirely biodegradable and it’s the ideal replacement for yet another traditionally plastic product.
8. Donate Instead of Trashing
We’re conditioned to believe that decluttering means filling large garbage bags of unwanted stuff and heaving them over the rails at the dump but we don’t have to create waste to simplify our living spaces. Next time you have a clear out, donate as much as you can to the Women’s Resource Centre, P.A.L.S, the Bermuda Red Cross and the Salvation Army – there are so many charities that could utilize the things you no longer need or sell them for much needed funds.
9. Grow Your Own Food
You may not believe it of yourself, but we’re all capable of growing the basics at home. Even if you don’t have a big garden, you can grow your own vegetables and herbs on your patio or kitchen counter, and here’s how!
10. Make Your Lunch at Home
We create so much waste when we don’t make lunch but buy it. Think of all the plastic salad containers, paper napkins, straws, coffee cups and styrofoam plates being used on a daily basis. If you absolutely can’t pack your own lunch then pack a reusable container instead and ask politely if your to-go lunch can be put inside it.