What to Do When You Can’t Avoid Trash

And, no, I’m not talking about a rude co-worker or classmate!

I go to college in Iowa. Our grocery store is the size of a large shoebox, and our food options are pretty limited. My meal plan, which cots an arm and a leg, gives me the option to eat in the commons (when I have time), and buy some supplementary snacks from a few other places on campus: ie, food in plastic packaging.

Of course, I am doing what I can to make my school more sustainable, but that means I’m busy juggling everything, and sometimes I fall into the trap of a bottle of juice and a Clif bar in the library. So, what do we do to keep our bad habits as low impact as possible?

Choose glass or metal containers that are easily recyclable or reusable

This is kind of an obvious one, but if you have the possibility of buying a plastic bottle or a can, go for the can– aluminum can be recycled much more easily and more times than plastic can.

Choose recycled plastic

Some companies use only recycled plastic, or at least a large proportion. For example, Naked uses 100 percent recycled and recyclable plastic. If you’re going for a sugary drink in a plastic bottle, opt for a boosted juice instead of a Coke.

Look into recycling options

Did you know that TerraCycle actually has a free program for recycling foil-lined energy bar wrappers and snack bags? Those are two major waste streams for convenience food. Take the extra few minutes to collect the trash and send it to be recycled.

Think ahead

Alright, this isn’t really how to take care of trash that’s already been produced. If you know that you’ll be in a situation where you’ll be tempted by food, try to pack some snacks and a water bottle. The goal isn’t to be perfect all the time, but to improve whenever possible.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

If you use a plastic water bottle, you’re not a demon. The point is to try to reduce waste as much as possible, not to punish yourself for eating a candy bar in a plastic wrapper.

We don’t need a few people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions doing it imperfectly.

Have questions, tips, or personal thoughts? Leave a comment, and don’t forget to subscribe! And check out my giveaway on Instagram!

(header image by Steve Johnson from Pexels)

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