Business: A Zero-Waste Lifestyle Is Easier Than You Think

Zero waste lifestyle? Is that really a thing? A few years ago I would have said impossible, at least for those of us living a western city lifestyle. Today I would be wrong, as more and more businesses are offering real options to reduce waste and live more lightly on the earth.
Lauren Singer, author of the Trash is for Tossers blog, is a champion for the zero waste, package free lifestyle, and famous for fitting four years of her trash into a single mason jar. Lauren’s blog and YouTube channel are full of practical tips for a zero waste lifestyle with categories including home, bathroom, kitchen, travel, food, toiletries, shopping and the office. My favorite post has its own section, Easy Changes, and provided comfort by sharing that even for Lauren, getting to a zero waste lifestyle was a process and did not happen overnight. One step at a time works. And one of the tricks is to know what to use to replace the everyday ‘stuff’ in your life that is currently disposable. Think becoming plastic free; drinking straws, toothbrush, plastic kitchen wrap, etc.

The challenge of where to find waste free replacements for those items inspired Lauren’s latest venture Package Free, a zero waste shop in New York City. The store opened May 1, 2017 as a pop-up and was so successful it was declared permanent by July. Package Free is a partnership with another waste free star, Daniel Silverstein, fashion designer, also known as Zero Waste Daniel. His fashion line, ZWD, is 100% made from factory scraps, something there is plenty of in New York City.

What’s special about Package Free is Lauren and Daniel have done all the work for us, bringing together a wide range of non-disposable, definitely plastic free everyday items in one place. You can shop in the store or online. And of course when shipping Package Free use recycled cardboard, paper wrapping and 100% recyclable paper tape.

It’s the products that get me excited as they make it possible to really believe I can get closer to a zero waste lifestyle. In browsing the online store I am reminded of everyday items my Mom had when I was a child. A nail brush that is wood and natural bristle, not plastic; stainless steel containers for leftovers or lunches; cloth produce bags and a stainless steel ice tray. Even refillable floss containers and Juniperseed Unpaper towels. Solid stuff, built to last. Beautiful, functional and with the feel-good factor as you get ever closer to zero waste.

The great news is that Package Free is not alone. Earth’s General Store in my home town of Edmonton, Canada, has been offering zero waste and plastic-free shopping since 1991 and is full of many similar hard to find lifestyle items. I love Earth’s General’s Abeego cloth and beeswax food wraps and silicone reusable ziplock bags. And of course aisle after aisle of bulk organic food and natural cleaning supplies, including bulk Dr. Bronner’s soaps. Check for similar stores in your area.

Now that you know where to get all the tools for your waste free lifestyle, where can you shop? In the grocery and cleaning arena there are now many options; package-free is no longer just for hippies. Bulk Barn, a bulk retailer in Canada with 260 stores, has encouraged customers to bring their own containers in for refilling since early 2017, bringing the package-free concept to many smaller towns and cities in Canada.

For the rest of the world, from North America to Europe and Australia, Bepakt offer a large directory of package-free / zero waste / bulk supermarkets and grocery shops.

Pam headshotPam Bryan Pam Bryan is a business professional living in Edmonton, Canada. She volunteers with Parvati.org and is on the Board of Directors for the Tour of Alberta professional cycling race.

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