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Zero waste living is a standard of living based upon waste prevention. Practitioners encourage the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused instead of only recycled. The overarching goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. Reusing items, or repurposing, cuts down on the number of new resources used and extends the life cycle of older products. 

Are you interested in pursuing a zero-waste commitment within your personal life? Below are some useful starting points to help you explore what the path to zero-waste could look like for you.

At Keep Prince William Beautiful we encourage our community to make it a priority to reduce, reuse, and recycle at home and work. In addition we encourage upcycling and repairing older items-check out our upcoming Fix-it-Fair on October 9! 

Here are Six ways to get started.

  1. What is your purchasing behavior?

Examine the items you can live without or make yourself. This includes food, clothing, knickknacks, etc. Purchase items that have good quality and will last a long time. Focusing on quality over quantity will save you a lot of money over time. Have quality items that look a tad dated or well loved? Consider upcycling or refurbishing them for a more modern look. Donate unneeded items.

  1. Buy in bulk

Consider buying non-perishable food in bulk (if you have the space). This works well for food items you use a lot. Keep in mind you will need to find a store that allows you to weigh your own food. Items such as glass jars, stainless steel containers, or cloth bags can be used to store your items.

  1. Do not buy unnecessary products

Saying no can be hard, especially if it is a “good” deal.  Before purchasing, consider if you need the item and whether you will use it within the year. Consider investing in items that can be used for years for multiple purposes, not just whatever is on sale.

  1. Change your commute

Consider biking, rideshares, or taking public transportation (if available) when commuting, if you can. Not only will you cut down on carbon emissions, you can increase your daily exercise!

  1. Reconsider what you are currently using

Can you replace any of the products you buy with ones that come package-free? Consider alternatives, such as using a bar of soap or shampoo bar rather than mass produced liquid in a bottle. Event toothpaste can be purchased in a jar and not a plastic tube.

  1. Reduce food waste

Try planning out your meals a week in advance and use the same ingredients across multiple meals. Rather than throwing away food scraps, you can start a compost heap! Fruit and vegetables can be frozen to extend their life cycle. Consider a farm share with a local operation or join a community co-op that sources local produce. If you will get fresher produce than is at the grocery store and will generally save money.

When you do purchase single-use products, please dispose of these items responsibly and recycle what you can.

Have you taken our Raise the Bar pledge? Help us increase sustainability in Prince William County and NOVA. Practice sustainability and win cool prizes!