In 2016 I am committed to attempting a zero-waste lifestyle or zero waste home. Inspired by many before me (Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life, Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home, Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers) and motivated by heartbreaking images of piles upon piles of unnecessary waste washing up on beaches, killing birds and other wildlife, and, before that, cluttering our homes. In the past, I’ve also been struck by images, by stories, I’ve been upset by the fact that our environment is degrading day by day and that our lives are consumed by disposable items. But I recycle, I care about the earth! I try to eat healthy, live a healthy lifestyle, I love and enjoy the beauty of nature! …But is that enough?
This year I’m saying: No. It’s not enough.
Every waste-reducing measure I’ve taken in the past few years has been pretty painless and relatively easy. From using cloth diapers to switching to reusable “un-paper” towels, I’ve been impressed (okay shocked) by how well the reusable versions of typically disposed items work. And they’re usually nicer to look at. And less expensive. And better for my health, the health of my home and family, and the earth.
So, I’m excited to take on more personal responsibility and take the extra step. Take many extra steps. There’s a lot more to say but for now, I’m going to tell you what I pledge to do in 2016:
- I will bring no new plastic or waste that cannot be reused or recycled into my life and home. If I do purchase or acquire something that cannot be reused, recycled or composted, I will throw it in my trash bin and keep track of this trash for the entire year. I will update this blog when my small home trash bin becomes full.
- I will follow Bea Johnson’s mandate to refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot … and ONLY in that order.
- I’ll dive into what this means to me more later but let’s just say I’ve already had many “aha!” and “duh!” moments during my research to get me to this point. Namely, recycling is better than landfills, but really its a last resort. At best it still takes energy (human energy, fossil fuels, etc.) to turn your recycling into a new usable item. At best a plastic bottle can be “down-cycled” once.
- I will not expect everything to change overnight. I will hold myself to a high but not impossible standard. There will be challenges, there will be mistakes. And that’s okay! I’m just excited to get started. Come with me!
I was honored to share a bit about my resolution in this Associated Press (AP) article by Leanne Italie titled “Happy 2016: Time for resolutions big and small.” (see screen shot below … Yup! That’s me!) I’ve already received tremendous support (and a fair amount of questions!) from family and friends, and I’ll do my best to showcase my changes, decisions and lessons learned in detail on this site and on social media, particularly Instagram, where I’ll be using the hashtags #zerowaste2016 and #meredithtested, if you’d like to follow along.