Low-Waste Lifestyle | By Selena Rodriguez

Last Updated: January 19, 2021By

Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2020 issue

Anyone who knows me personally can attest to my incessant positivity. What can I say? Sitting back in the muck of this world’s negativity isn’t my style. Of course, I’m not blind or even immune to the brutal nature of this world. Anyone with a working phone and access to the outside world is savvy to the doom and gloom of the daily news cycle. 

Of all the news we hear, the environmental crisis we’re faced with is especially alarming. I would never try to argue that things don’t look bleak. In fact, even with my sunshine-powered soul, I’d actually beg to differ. We are in a state of emergency and we absolutely should be concerned. But I also refuse to settle back into the dire nature of it all. It is of my strongest belief that our individual actions matter. That’s why I choose to live as low-waste of a lifestyle as I can muster. And, despite any preconceived notions you might have, it’s accessible to you, too. 


Living low-waste is exactly as it sounds; it’s maintaining the goal to produce the least amount of waste possible. It can seem like a daunting challenge when everything seems to be shrink-wrapped and served up with plastic cutlery on the side. That’s why my biggest piece of advice is to start small. Chances are you still have tons of products in various forms of plastic packaging at home. Be sure to use all of that before you start investing in their low-waste counterpart. 


Another important first step in a low-waste lifestyle is refusing new single-use plastic. Everywhere you turn there’s another “disposable” plastic product. But since plastic takes up to 1,000 years to decompose, there’s nothing truly disposable about it. Straws, plastic grocery bags and plastic cutlery are all items to avoid. You might find yourself forgetting to ask for no straw in the beginning, but be patient with yourself! You’ll get the hang of it in no time. 


The key to an efficient low-waste lifestyle is a stoked arsenal of tools. Just about anything disposable has an eco-friendly alternative. You can find reusable straws (in metal, silicone and bamboo form), sandwich bags, produce bags, cutlery sets and so on and so forth. 


Once you’ve squeezed out that very last bit of toothpaste, it’s time to start searching for alternatives. You’ll quickly learn there’s no shortage of low-waste options for everything from cleaning supplies to bathroom products to kitchen items. Check out your local bulk shop. Bring your own containers. If there isn’t a bulk shop near you, look for eco-friendly products online. 


Sure, one individual’s efforts won’t change the world. But, our collective power certainly can; voting with our dollars and educating those in our circles can. Be that incessantly positive force for change. Know that living low-waste does matter. Little by little we’ll break down this throw-away culture and preserve our planet for generations to come. 

Photo by Selena Rodriguez.

Selena Rodriguez is a recent graduate of Colorado State University. She hopes that her Bachelor’s Degree in journalism will help her share stories and perspectives through a variety of mediums. One of her favorite pastime is wandering the Colorado wilderness with a camera at her side and her dog Mayzee in tow. Yoga outside on a beautiful day is her idea of a perfect day. 
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