Im not really sure where my passion for the environment came from. Growing up I always knew that nature was beautiful and that it must be preserved.

With our climate drastically changing, we cannot rely on just recycling to solve the problem. I recently found an incredible blog online, Trash is for Tossers, and was beyond motivated to start making a change in my life. How to go zero-waste?

The average human produces approximately four pounds of garbage in one day. That means I produce almost 1,500 pounds of trash per year! And I’m one person who only cooks for myself. I decided to make this transition in three phases starting with the one place in my house that produces the most trash:

The Kitchen

Think about it for one second. How many cases of water can you go through? Personally, I could go through 1 case of water a week. Not only does that become costly, think about how much trash that’s producing.

This was my starting point. I purchased a hot drink tumbler and adopted a water bottle that my job supplies for the employees. From investing in these two items, I’m saving money on buying bottled water, hot drinks on the go, and most importantly I’m not throwing out anything! I kept going.

Melissa Cannarozzo

The next step was always having reusable bags on hand. Did you know plastic bags cannot be recycled? Think about every store you go to, grocery stores, liquor stores, convenience stores; they all give out thousands of plastic bags in one day.

Using reusable bags will make a huge difference. Some stores, like Target and Whole Foods, offer special incentives for people who use reusable bags. I recommend buying these. These fashionable bags are great because they fold up into little sacks that fit right in my bag so I never forget to bring them to the store.

Melissa Cannarozzo

The biggest two steps I made in going zero waste was jarring my groceries and investing in a compost collection. “Jarring” is when you purchase glass jars and use them to purchase food items in bulk at local grocers.

For example, I buy all my rice, oats, quinoa, and granola in jars. By using jars, you can choose how much you want of one item. You are also not paying a branding tax or additional costs for packaging. By using jars, you’re saving a ton of money and producing so much trash. It's a win-win!

An added change I made was buying reusable produce bags for buying produce (such as Apples, Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, etc.) instead of using the plastic bags at the grocery store.

Melissa Cannarozzo

Investing in a Compost Collection service makes a huge difference in how much trash you're producing. For a small fee each month, the service provides me a 5-gallon bucket and picks up my compost once a week. This was a huge step in going zero waste. I currently have five roommates, and most of us cook every day.

Every week we fill our compost bin almost all the way, which means we are properly disposing 20 gallons of waste per month. The compost service picks up our food scraps, removes them, and produces compost for use. Yes. it is costly, but composting is SO efficient for reducing trash creation. You can find a compost collection service here.

Melissa Cannarozzo

So after taking on these four steps, I can say I really see a difference in how much trash I produce. I never have to take out the garbage, and rarely have recycling to get rid of. I also noticed how much money I was saving.

I started bringing lunch to work in reusable containers, which saved me $150 a month for lunch alone. I saved about $50 a month by buying in bulk and using reusable bags. These small changes to my lifestyle have made nothing but positive impacts on myself and the environment.

So now I challenge you. Can you change one thing in your life? How can you help reduce your carbon thumbprint on the environment? I challenge you to make at least one change that I made. I promise you that you will notice a huge change in your life, and I can guarantee you will not be disappointed. 

Our planet needs help, and we have to help before its too late. These small changes will lead to a huge difference in our environment, and I look forward to the next phases of going zero waste.