Tips for Zero Waste

Haha! I told my husband I was going to blog about Jingle Trail, but I forgot I need to finish my post on Zero Waste…

Tomorrow is a better day to talk about running anyways.

Last week I attended a lecture presentation at the library on Zero Waste. The first half of our class was going over the Re’s of the movement. It’s not just Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. There’s a whole slew of Re’s we can practice.

The second part of class was tips and other suggestions from participants themselves. And let me tell you, it felt like a trainer convention. For every item of clothing, plastic, or trash you have at home, there are dozens of ways to keep each of them from entering the landfill.

Pill bottles

You can mail your pill bottles to recycling centers that accept them, just do it in bulk. If there are no centers near you, people were suggesting many different uses for the small items- use them for bulk spices or teas. The zookeeper in me wants to inform everyone that pill bottles may be fantastic enrichment for smaller animals and pets.


Just like we may skip products made with palm oil, we can skip wines with stoppers made of plastic. Cork is recyclable, plastic stoppers are not. If you can’t find a center which accepts cork, then you can still re-use the corks for tons of crafts. From coasters to Christmas ornaments to wreaths and freaking curtains (although, you might have a problem if you have enough corks to make a full curtain…), corks are an amazing supply to make almost anything crafty.

Socks with holes

I think there are as many things to do with our holey socks as there are holey socks. I have made a makeshift lateral walking band from socks in the past. I am still trying to figure out how to make a workout vest with socks, too. But those are just suggestions I have for fitness equipment. Others have used old socks and t-shirts to wipe out peanut butter and greasy jars before tossing them. Another recommendation is to cut the foot part off the sock and pull the ankle part up higher on your leg as leg warmers, or to use to hold bandages, hand warmers, or cold presses to your leg/upper arms.

Think Outside the Gift Wrap

Help others reuse and reduce their waste this holiday season. Don’t wrap presents in paper. Unless you grew up with parents like mine, and still have wrapping paper from 1985 (I wish I was exaggerating). We were taught Santa recycles all his wrapping paper, and so opened presents very carefully as to not rip them too much. That way Santa had plenty of paper for next year. The more paper we conserved, the more presents he could wrap. That was my logic, anyways.
Instead of paper, use gifts to wrap other gifts. Wrap presents in a t-shirt, or a scarf. Purchase reusable bags for produce or groceries and put gifts in them. Have a huge gift for a loved one? Wrap it in a large towel or blanket. Or get creative and wrap presents in scraps of fabric.

It was heartening to see so many others practice so many methods to reduce their waste and conserve resources. Often times I feel discouraged when I am trying so hard, using canvas bags and bringing my own containers to the store, and then I walk out to see the next person carrying twenty plastic bags. With two items in each bag.

And in a way, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in feeling frustration. Like, even with all I do, that it’s not enough. In today’s world, it’s really hard to feel we are doing enough. We just don’t live in a culture where all of us have the time, energy, and ability to make chicken soup from scratch, or to turn all our old clothes into a quilt. But working together, and supporting each other, we can make it easier for ourselves and our neighbors.

There are two things I want to emphasize about the Zero Waste movement. Number one, ZERO waste is not a completely feasible notion. We are GOING to have some trash. But just because you can’t fit all your trash for the year in one mason jar doesn’t mean you can’t make a HUGE difference in the world. Zero waste may not be obtainable, but it is something to work towards. And it doesn’t mean we can’t still try.

The other key thing to remember is while we are desperately trying to reduce our plastic waste, plastic itself is not enemy number one. Plastic has an incredible purpose in today’s world. In the medical field, we would have significantly higher costs and less sanitary procedures with more complications without single use plastic. I try to remember to “save the plastic for the hospitals”. If the only plastic we utilized came from the medical field, it wouldn’t be the issue we are dealing with today. If the only plastic being tossed were from hospitals and medical centers, there wouldn’t be a huge garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I remind myself of these two things, because otherwise it would get overwhelming. I do my part. Honestly, I do quite a bit more than my fair share. To keep my sanity, I pick my battles. And I choose friends who will help me with the other battles I cannot fight.

What are your favorite tips for helping protect the earth and reduce our impact on it? Let me know in the comments, and thank you for your continued support.

Live Green, Train Positive!

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