New York is one of the dirtiest cities I’ve ever seen. Truly. There’s trash everywhere. I can’t walk down the street without seeing takeout bags, cigarette packs, napkins, or broken bottles. I could make a “Litter Scavenger Hunt” for the neighborhood children, but they would find everything so fast there would be no point.
In contrast, the city has one of the most well-run sanitation programs in the country. They hand pick through trash and recycle items that can be recycled, and are refining their composting program to make it available to everyone. Not only that, but they’re trying to go zero waste by 2030 (high-five New York). But that’s a long way away, and doesn’t take away from the fact that I dodged a plastic bag in fear it was a pigeon the other day. So it got me thinking about my plastic consumption and what I could do to remove my trash from the equation.
I contemplated my day-to-day activities and the trash I come into contact with the most. I thought of my produce bags, the things that come in single use plastic bags, my deli trash, coffee cups, gum wrappers, all my bathroom products in plastic containers etc. I decided I wanted to do something about it. I compiled a list of things I use in my daily life that can be swapped for low-waste options. Bringing utensils with me, my straw, bringing food with me to work (which saves money AND take-out trash), making coffee at home. And I decided I would start the next day!
Sadly, I woke up late and this low-waste trash plan didn’t go… as planned. One could say I didn’t NEED to buy coffee, but honestly I was waking up at 5 am every day that week and needed both coffee and a 15 hour nap.
I was pretty bummed with myself but knew the real problem with the environment was major corporations and the military so I really didn’t need to beat myself up over it. I would try more later.
After that shift, I decided to visit the Package Free Shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The space was gorgeous, minimalist decor, and smelled like essential oils. I descended the stairs into a wonderful paradise of stainless steel, bamboo, and linen. I ended up buying a shampoo bar, a conditioner bar, a holder for them for when I travel, a bamboo toothbrush, and a tote bag.
I wanted to get so much more, but was trying to be good and check my consumption and only get what I needed. When I ran out of my face soap at home, THEN I would come back and get a bar. When my body wash or razors needed replenishing, THEN I would come back. Because the major point is to limit consumption as much as possible. Only buy what you need, and try your best to opt for low-waste versions.
After the shop I visited Sprout Home for some new plant children, and happily carried my purchases on the crowded train bound for home.
I also decided to have my groceries delivered via The Wally Shop, which I will do a post about soon. Including a discount code for anyone in the New York area.
I realized how much preparation goes into going zero waste, and how grocery shopping isn’t something you can casually do. It’s really a whole event. So I think I need more time. I’ve decided to do the Jar Challenge for September (a little late on the plastic-free July train). But I wanted to see what I can do in a city that thrives on convenience, but pays for it in trash tumble-weeds.
I’m going to be keeping you guys updated on my progress, and hopefully inspire you to try this out too!