8 Tips for Adopting (and Sticking to) a Zero Waste Lifestyle

Resolve to reduce your waste with tips from zero waste expert Marina Qutab.
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8 Resolutions for Adopting a Zero Waste Lifestyle in the New Year

Image/Alex Mortenson

Ask Marina Qutab about wasteful practices and she’ll tell you that “the average American creates 4.5 pounds of waste a day, and globally the top six plastic contaminants that pollute our environment are entirely avoidable,” listing plastic bags, straws, stirrers, plastic utensils, and similar items as the main culprits.  

As a shining example of proactive, sustainable living herself, Qutab says she’s on a mission to change that staggering statistic “by empowering people with the tools and convenience they need to make a difference starting today.” 

Qutab has been living a zero-waste lifestyle for the past three years. “As I became a pro at sending practically nothing to landfill, I came to realize living this way was anything but convenient. Noticing a void in the market and demand from my social media following for a product that made living sustainably easy, I created {Zero} Waste Kit - your basic toolkit for taking on the world like a zero waste badass.” 

8 Resolutions for Adopting a Zero Waste Lifestyle in the New Year

{Zero} Waste Kit Retails for $56.99

When you use the {Zero} Waste Kit, you’ll find that it has all of the most common things you need to ditch the polluting plastics we use every day. On top of its ingenuity, all of the {Zero} Waste Kit’s contents have been meticulously sourced and created from fair trade and eco-friendly manufacturers and materials. 

The jar itself is all-purpose and perfect for storing leftovers, smoothies, and hot beverages. It comes complete with a custom designed, leak-proof, and rust-proof lid made from high-quality organic and biodegradable bamboo. There’s also a hand protection sleeve crafted from sustainable cork that’s been stained in organic vegetable dye and sealed with silicone for water and stain resistance. Use the finger loop for easy carrying. 

Inside the {Zero} Waste Kit there’s a utensil (half spoon/half fork) made from ethically-sourced bamboo and a reusable straw made from stainless steel with a bendable silicone tip, making it friendly for use by people with disabilities. Even the straw cleaner is made of compostable fibers. There’s an upcycled, scrap fabric napkin and an optional ceramic blade knife. And last but not least, there are two reusable produce bags that are perfect for shopping on the go.

“After committing to creating the solution I envisioned, I observed my lifestyle for the next few months of my life, taking note of what lifestyle essentials I needed daily to avoid waste at all costs,” explains Qutab, “This honest self-examining period revealed just six major lifestyle tools that I needed every single day, whether I was traveling to work or to a completely different city. These six major lifestyle tools are what your {Zero} Waste Kit consists of.” 

In addition to sharing her life-changing invention, Qutab was also kind enough to share her favorite resolutions for those wishing to convert to a low or zero waste lifestyle in the New Year.  

1. Start Fresh 

USDA's Final Rule on GMOs Will Leave Many Foods Unlabeled

iStock/AleksandarNakic

Qutab recommends letting your fridge and pantry go empty (eat everything before making another grocery trip). Then, fill your cabinets up with eco-goodness. Things like fresh, local, and organic produce, homemade pickles, package-free snacks, and beans and nuts purchased in bulk. 

2. Adopt the Six Rs 

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You've likely been taught the three R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle, but Qutab urges you to add three more R’s to the mix: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, rot and recycle (and only in that order). 

3. Bring Your {Zero Waste Kit 

8 Resolutions for Adopting a Zero Waste Lifestyle in the New Year

Use your kit and bring it everywhere! She says “the key to living a minimal waste lifestyle is being hella prepared at all times. Once you make a habit of it, it will become second nature.” 

4. Say Sayonara to Plastic 

All Plastic Sucks

istock/tezzstock

Ditch items like traditional toothbrushes, chapstick, plastic razors, dish sponges, tampons and pads, hairbrushes, etc. Swap disposable items with sustainable and reusable alternatives made from bamboo, hemp, sustainably-sourced paper, wood, or metal.  

5. Just Say No 

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This applies to bags, straws, plastic utensils, napkins, and freebies (something Qutab says is a big one). Also, say no to all single-use disposables. She recommends we “practice setting boundaries by politely saying, ‘no, thank you’ when confronted with potential waste,” and to “say it more than once so it really lands.” 

6. Learn to Shop in Bulk 

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Bring your own produce bags and containers to the store and fill em' up with the good stuff. Be sure to weigh your containers prior to filling them so that you aren't charged extra.  

7. Hit Up the Farmer’s Market 

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Shop local and organic when possible. Refuse twisty ties, elastic bands, plastic bags, and plastic containers. Bring your own jars and reusable bags. 

8. Shop Secondhand 

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Save money and the planet by shopping second-hand. “Learn how to upcycle, such as sewing an old pair of jeans into a purse,” suggests Qutab. Only buy what you need, trade clothes with friends, and when necessary, invest a little more to support responsible, slow fashion. 

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