Our shopping habits can have a big impact on the decisions made by the stores we frequent and the items they offer for sale. Here are some simple things you can do in your own community, or with online retailers, to encourage a switch to zero waste principles and longer-lived products.
1. Borrow your 2018 Zero Waste mantra from Ben Franklin’s axiom, “Less waste in the first place is better than more recycling.” An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
2. For your home, or on the job, develop a communicative relationship with your store managers and suppliers. Remind them repeatedly that you want to buy products and packaging that are durable, reusable, and repairable.
3. Ask them to buy from manufacturers with packaging take-back services and containers that you can return the next time you shop or order supplies.
4. Ask them to make it convenient for you to bring your own containers to purchase groceries. Grains, coffee, teas, pet food, pastas, nuts, soaps, cooking oil, and most dry goods and liquids can be purchased from local stores in your own containers that you use over and over. If you make a real commitment to buy as much as you can in your own containers, your recycling and garbage pick up can be much less frequent.
5. Review the City of Arcata’s Zero Waste Action Plan (2017). This progressive 10-year plan is one of the first Zero Waste plans for a small U.S. town. It lays out specific actions that we all can adopt to incrementally work toward producing zero waste.
6. Make a Top Ten List of Single Use Plastic Doo-Dads in your daily life, and focus on eliminating one at a time. Small plastics often end up as contaminants in paper recycling and in the composting of food and organics, and the damage that plastics are doing to our oceans, waterways and wildlife has been well documented. Microplastics have even been found in the body tissues of deep sea creatures. Stop using plastic bags, filmwrap, straws, lids, cups, bottles, Q-tips, and utensils. You will find that there are washable/reusable alternatives for most things. If you must use a single-use item, choose paper over plastic.
7. Applaud your business suppliers or store managers when they respond positively to your requests for less wasteful alternatives.