About a year ago, I discovered the zero waste lifestyle and I’ve been working hard ever since to educate myself on the impact single-use plastic has on our environment, our impact as consumers, and what we can do to make a difference.

Plastic is a huge issue in today’s environment and it impacts every inch of this earth. The good news? There are simple steps we can take to start making changes.

1. For starters, take a reusable water bottle with you everywhere.

I started doing this because I’m always thirsty and soon realized how much easier it made my life to have a water bottle on hand at all times. Yes, I have to carry a water bottle with me, but let’s be honest, I have a big enough purse and the bottle doesn’t weigh much!

This past spring I was in two weddings and attended two bachelorette parties—I did a lot of traveling by plane. I learned that not only will most restaurants happily fill your water bottle for you if you ask politely, but many airports have introduced water filling stations next to or on top of their drinking fountains.

Seeing this gave me a little extra hope to know that others were also making steps for the better. The bonus? Not paying an obscene amount for a bottle of water after you go through security.

I’ve also asked flight attendants to fill my bottle with water when they come around with the drink cart, which means I can prevent another single-use plastic cup from entering the throw-away stream.

2. Invest in reusable containers and cutlery.

I commute via train to my grad school classes and often snack or eat meals while in transit. I had switched from plastic tupperware to glass containers years ago but found myself nervous about carrying heavier containers of glass and silverware from my kitchen on the train because it would be so easy to drop and break it.

Then I discovered steel container options and bamboo reusable cutlery. Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, I just like this company! I was also able to find some similar items on Amazon.

My first choice would be to buy these products from a local store, but I couldn’t find any sold in my town. Another goal, help introduce these items to local businesses!

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3. Carry a bag with you.

You never know when something will catch your eye when you’re out and about and it is so easy to end up with plastic bags or cardboard bags from stores, but these are so unnecessary!

I carry a lightweight cloth bag that I can roll up and hold in the palm of my hand. Whether I pick up a book, a new t-shirt, or just some produce from the farmer’s market or grocery store, I always have this bag on hand. This way, another plastic bag isn’t ending up in a landfill or taking up space underneath your kitchen sink.

It feels good to make little changes that help the environment and simplify life. Yes, it can take some extra planning, but once you get into the grove you won’t think twice about the water bottle you’re carrying around or the cloth bag you have ready to go.

For July, I’m joining many others in going plastic-free for an entire month. For me, it means I will do my best to avoid using plastic or buying anything with plastic. With all of the summer activities like barbecues, picnics, etc, it will certainly be an endeavor!

The important part is to try, and to learn. I find using Instagram to follow like-minded individuals and even companies gives me new ideas and inspiration on how to best avoid single-use plastic as well as all types of plastic.

While Plastic-Free July is coming to an end, these are changes we can make to reduce our impact on the environment any time of year.

What changes can you make today to move towards going zero waste?

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