Want to be more green and sustainable? Blogger and sustainability activist Kazmira Eldaly shares simple steps for following a zero-waste lifestyle
By Kazmira Eldaly
Photography by Evan Davies Photography
I understand how overwhelming the idea of living a zero-waste life can be. Trust me, I am still learning all the things I am not practicing yet! But I’m not here to throw facts at you about how necessary it is to make sustainable changes. (That would be even more overwhelming.) Here, 10 baby steps that will help you change your life — and your community — for the better. If this article overwhelms you that’s okay, too — just start by picking one thing and become really good at it.
Utilizing the jars you already have is key. I highly suggest buying in bulk because not only is it cost-effective, but it eliminates tons of single-use plastic. Put your oats, herbs, almonds, homemade granola, or whatever you desire in a mason jar or old coconut oil jar to keep it fresh. The key to becoming zero-waste while doing this: bringing it to your local grocery store’s bulk section to refill it!
Decorate Your Home with Natural Elements
Wood, plants, dried palms and driftwood are all great options for decorating your home. Your home decor choices will not only be zero-waste, but your house will be looking trendy, too. Another great tip to have a more sustainable home is to keep it minimal. Don’t overthink it, be creative and bring the outdoors inside!
Make Your Own Tea
Between running my own business, keeping my two golden retrievers entertained and hanging out with my husband, I totally understand why you may need some caffeine every now and then (or every day). That daily Starbucks habit isn’t exactly eco-friendly, so I suggest making your own coffee and tea at home. (You can even put your dried tea blend in one of your upcycled jars and consider it decor!)
Create your own blend of natural herbs according to what your body needs (my current blend is full of hormone-supporting herbs such as Cats Claw, Dong Quai, Raspberry Leaf, and Rose Petals. I get all my organic herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs). Also, make sure your tea bags don’t have tiny plastic particles in them because many do. Unbleached bags are a great option and so is a metal steeper.
With many stores selling reusable straws nowadays, this is a very easy step to take. Your straw can be metal, bamboo or even glass — just make sure to bring it with you everywhere. It sounds weird, I know, but once you do it you’ll understand how important it is. Get a little cotton pouch and keep one in your car, or buy a portable one you can put on your keys. Package Free Shop is a great option to purchase a straw.
Stop Using Paper Towel
We need to go back to the basics, aka a good ole’ dishcloth. Paper towel isn’t recyclable because of how bleached it is, so switching to kitchen towels is key. Finish out your roll of paper towel, and never buy another one. With cloth towels, all you do is use, wash, and then re-use (and save money in the process). Pretty simple, right?
Switch to All-Natural Cleaning Products
Say you spray down your counters with a conventional cleaning product (i.e., one containing chemicals). You wipe the counter with a paper towel, which you then throw away — now those same chemicals are in the landfills. Then you rinse your hands (or wash your towel, if you’re using a cloth one) and the chemicals have gone down the drain. Wherever those chemicals — and the bottle they came in — end up, it’s not pretty.
I use a 100% non-toxic cleaner that is based around the organic essential oil called Thieves. It kills more bacteria than vinegar, and is even safe for kids (so no worries if your little one licks the freshly wiped counter!) Do your research and find a good all-natural cleaner that works for you and your family. I also highly suggest downloading the app called “Think Dirty” to see how the ingredients in certain products rank on a scale of 1-10.
Get Reusable Grocery & Produce Bags
This is one of the best things you can do for your planet, yourself, and our future. Reusable bags are everywhere now…I’m sure there is even one in the back of your closet collecting dust. Put your reusable bags in your car and take them to every store you go to. This way if you “forget them” (which is very easy to do) then they’re just in the parking lot waiting for you! Cotton bags are also great for bulk food options (make sure that the cashier factors in the weight of your bag before they weigh whatever is inside.) All of my grocery bags are upcycled, and my bulk bags in this photo are from All Cotton and Linen. I also use Stasher Bags.
Make Your Plastic Razor Dull, and Never Buy Another One Again
Allow me to introduce you to the Leaf Razor. I am literally never buying a razor again! This razor is the ONLY 100% medal razor out there that bends and moves with your body, no cuts necessary. Bonus: The blades are even recyclable. (Please note that in making this switch it’s really important to not throw away every razor you have waiting to be used; use first, then discard.)
Shop for Produce WITHOUT Plastic
Do you really need to put your produce in a plastic bag to put it into another plastic bag? If you don’t have a reusable bag for produce then put it right into your grocery cart. You’re going to wash it when you get home anyway (I hope). On the other hand, if you do have recyclable produce bags, use them! My produce bags in this photo are from All Cotton and Linen. They even have the weight right on the tag. These make a great “lunchbox” option too.
Shop Slowly & Sustainably
My last tip for a sustainable home is to shop intentionally. This can look different depending on your lifestyle, but I highly suggest shopping locally, researching name-brand companies, and shopping second hand. Ethical clothing brands don’t always mean sustainable clothing pieces. The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries, so these small steps matter!
After many years of shopping at Forever 21 and constantly getting rid of items because I simply didn’t love them anymore, I realized what was lacking: the story. Pieces that are handcrafted by someone local are kind of items that you won’t want to get rid of. Speaking of, donate whatever you do decide to ditch. Good Neighbor is a great option for intentional shopping in Detroit.
Kazmira is a Detroit Native, YouTuber, Blogger, avid traveler, and sustainability activist. When she’s not busy running her own marketing business that supports local small businesses or sharing her sustainability tips with her zero-waste community through Sol & Seed (former flower cart!), you can catch Kazmira putting together a new plant-based recipe, snuggling her Golden Retrievers, filling up her diffuser or adventuring with her husband, Evan. Follow her on Instagram at @kazmiraeldaly and @solandseed and on YouTube for weekly videos.