I’ve always been a bit of a hippie at heart, but like many yogis, I knew I could step up my eco-friendly actions. So in 2019, I made a resolution to drastically cut my waste (garbage and recycling) in favour of a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
In honour of Earth Day, here is some advice to those who may want to adopt their own Zero Waste habits.
1. Be mindful
Environmental activism and the principles of yoga go hand in hand. There’s a beautiful sense of interconnectedness that comes from practising mindfulness. Your yoga practice is a great opportunity to take a few moments to meditate and reflect daily on the fact that we are part of the environment—not separate from it. The more we do so, the more we can live this mindset off the mat.
2. Start small
Think progress, not perfection. I’m not perfect, and I doubt that I’ll ever manage to be 100% Zero Waste. However, that shouldn’t stop us from trying! Every time you bring your own container for takeout, refill a container rather than buying a new bottle, or choose a biodegradable toothbrush instead of a plastic one, you’re making a difference.
I find it easier to take it slowly, and replace things as they wear out. Make one change at a time. When I ran out of snacks packaged in non-recyclable containers, I didn’t buy any more. When I ran out of regular plastic floss, I bought compostable silk floss. Next time I need a new lipstick, I’ll replace it with one in a more environmentally friendly container.
3. Make it your own
My zero-waste journey may look a bit different than your own, but that’s the beauty in it: you can adopt what makes sense for you and your lifestyle, and change what doesn’t. You may love DIY projects, or you may prefer to buy a premade product at a refill store. You may have a huge outdoor space for an expansive garden, or a tiny patio for a few containers.
4. Go au-natural
We Zero Waste folk, choose to drastically reduce our use of plastic in favour of natural materials.
It’s easy to think that as long as plastic can be recycled it’s okay, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Unlike a glass jar, which can be recycled into another glass jar forever, plastic becomes weaker and of lower quality over time, so it’s only ever “downcycled.” When plastic gets into the environment, it’s extremely destructive and toxic, ending up in the oceans, in the bellies of sea creatures, and into our water supply. Even when we wash clothes made from synthetic materials, microscopic plastic pieces enter our waterways.
Instead, choose clothing made from natural materials, like cotton (organic is best!), hemp, linen, wool, or silk. When it comes to packaging or home goods, turn to what people used before plastics: glass, metal, wood, paper or cardboard, or natural cloth. There are some really lovely, inventive products out there, like non-toxic, natural, biodegradable food wraps made from beeswax-coated cloth.
5. Remember the other “R”s
Recycling should be a last resort, after reducing and reusing. Also learn to “refuse” (promotional items, samples, or things you don’t want) and “repair” (rather than replacing).
6. Spread the word!
The real power comes from sharing what you’re doing with others. Tell your neighbours, your friends, your mom, your coworkers.
I love bringing my own containers to restaurants, because I’ll often get comments and questions from other patrons. They’ve often just never thought of bringing their own, and I love thinking that I might have made a difference.
Also, reach out to politicians and companies to tell them your thoughts, and get involved in environmental organizations making a positive difference. Our actions, and our voices, can add up to something really beautiful!
Leah Payne is a Vancouver-based writer, editor, and blogger. When she’s not working or chasing her toddler son, she likes to collect children’s books, practise yoga, or try desperately to drink a cup of tea before it goes cold. Follow her zero-waste journey at her blog and Instagram, or learn more about her writing and editing at cedarhillcreative.ca.
Here at b, halfmoon, we believe in taking steps towards a sustainable world however big or small. We make an effort within our sourcing, warehouse and production processes to take actions towards reducing our carbon footprint.