How To Be Vegan And Zero Waste ( A Complete Guide)

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: July 4, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Environmental-conscious individuals usually suffer restrictions, especially in today’s world where fast fashion and convenience are the order of the day. 

Quitting one bad habit can be overwhelming or seems impossible. Talk less of multiple habits. 

Apart from the diet, Being a vegan already restricts you in different areas of life such as your beauty products, clothes, cleaning products, and more. Adding the zero waste lifestyle to your vegan life increases your restrictions even further. 

Because, looking at some facts, you’ll know that the best option is to change your habits. Facts like, ⅓ of the global land is used by animal agriculture. 2500 gallons of water is needed for 1Ib of beef. Furthermore, Americans record 4 pounds of trash every day, 185 pounds of plastic per year, etc. 

With that said, how can you be a vegan and still practice zero waste? Continue reading. 

1. Start somewhere 

Know what you should avoid. Know the available alternatives. Know why you want to do this. These are your ultimate starting points. The more knowledgeable you are about zero waste practices, the easier it is to ditch the plastic world. Start with small steps. You can move on from there. Easy peasy (maybe not)! 

I didn’t wake up one day to become vegan with zero waste. It was a process. First, I ditched red meat, cut out white meat, stopped eggs, etc. The entire transition took some months. So, start with a few steps. From there, you can continue to transition. Till you get there.

2. Check Some Facts

Watch documentaries. Read articles. You need to stay informed about your new way of life. You need to have facts glued into your head. This simple step goes a darn long way. 

Before I trash out my leftovers I always remember the fact that Americans trash out around 250 pounds of waste per year. Having enough information lets you educate people about your choice of life. While some people are only trying to test your loyalty, some might actually be needing your information for guidance. 

3. Go Through Labels

Be prepared for whatever issues you can face. Know what is and what’s not entailed in your curbside recycling. 

Research on the meaning of numbers inside the symbols. Check which one works for you between the backyard composting and municipal composting. You can memorize or keep the list of harmful ingredients usually found in animal products.  

I think this is significantly important especially when you’ve gone far in your vegan journey. Because you don’t want to eat what will later disgust you after finding out about its ingredients. 

4. Replan Your Life 

What’s the best place to start? Sounds weird, but your trash is a great starting point. You’ll be able to know where your largest waste is coming from. And you can start looking for the best alternative. 

If you buy some packs of paper towels weekly, you can switch to second-grade rags. If you use disposable makeup removers, a great alternative is self-made organic cotton round (they’re not difficult to make).  

Obviously, finish up the ones you already have. It makes no sense to trash out an item in good condition. 

Then, look for zero waste kits to guide you about where to start with your daily waste reduction. Most times, these are items you already have. All you need is a little bit of creativity  to use these items. 

 5. Seek Help From Your Community

Research on the nearest farmer’s market. Chances are you’re not going to find your dream zero waste company that practice package recycling and sells your desired containers. 

However, big supermarkets feature bulk sections with limited options. In such a situation, I’d reach out upfront via call or email to ask if they permit customers to come with their containers. Keep in mind that this varies according to location. 

Vegan And Zero Waste

6. Ask upfront. Call upfront. 

Call your favorite restaurant ahead to ask if you can come with your container. It’s in my habit to call or send an email ahead especially if I have a special request. 

Knowing upfront that the restaurant keeps vegans with zero-waste practices in mind makes going out to eat less stressful. Calling upfront allows you to speak with a higher executive who can help make your request stand out. 

7. Shop Smartly 

Look for sustainable brands. Or, buy from stores that keep sustainability at the forefront of their sales. This will be helpful especially when you run out of your makeup removal pad, shampoo, etc, because you’ll be confident that you can always get another one.  

Lack of preparation has been the greatest downfall of most vegan lifestyles. Because you’re likely to choose the next available and unhealthy option if you’re not prepared. 

However, keep in mind that there are emergency situations that may require you to opt for other options especially if it’s health-related. Remember, your health matters first. 

8. Connect With Like-minded Individuals Online 

Connect with people that share similar goals with you. They are all over the media: on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. This is very helpful especially if you live among people who don’t share the same values with you. Communicating with like-minded individuals online can inspire you to continue your lifestyle even in your unsupportive physical environment.  

You’ll also be exposed to helpful tips to better manage your lifestyle. 

9. Respect the process 

Knowing what you want will make the entire process easier. However, it’s not easy to completely switch to a zero-waste lifestyle. You need to respect the process. Follow the process. Test the waters. If you’ve never tried avoiding meat, withdrawing slowly from this habit can make the entire process easier for you. 

The world is a restrictive place. So it’s difficult to cut out every nonrenewable item at once. Remember, you’re trying to practice zero waste that will possibly last for the last time and not just a month or two of habit change. 

Start somewhere. Use totes rather than grocery bags. Use metal utensils. Try a no-meat Monday. Or a Zero-dairy Friday. 

And go from there. Obviously, these processes will require some time to get used to.  But over time, it’ll become a natural part of you. 

10. Be Prepared To Pay The Price 

Be prepared for the popular “plants have got their feelings too” shades that’ll be throwing at you. Get ready for that occasional stare when you visit the restaurant with your container. 

Today’s world is not suited for a vegan on a zero-waste lifestyle. Many people won’t understand the help you’re trying to render the earth. 

People behind you will shout impatiently  as you carefully read the PLU and tare to the store attendant. Your friends will think you’re crazy when you shop at thrift stores instead of the mall. 

Overall, do what is right for you. Because you don’t know who will be inspired.  

11. Don’t Use Single-use Products

We’re so engrossed in Single-use items like straws, coffee cups, and plastic utensils that we forgot the amount of waste they contribute to the environment. Come to the coffee shop with your own travel mug. Come to dining with your mason jar. This small habit contributes immensely to the ecosystem. 

12. Practice compositing 

The landfill is already composed of different kinds of waste. You can reduce a handful of waste by practicing composting. 

Composting can be practiced in different ways. However, the trenching method is the easiest way. Store your scrap in a sealed bin and bury them deep up to 8 inches in a garden. 

Keep In Mind 

Perfection Is Not The Goal

Remember that we’re not trying to be perfect (no one is. No one can be). We’re only trying to live a sustainable life as a vegan. Factors like family, health, location, can keep people away from being a perfect vegan with zero-waste. This means it’s okay to compromise, sometimes.  

Vegan meats are usually sold in plastic. No exceptions in my local shop. While some people will pick zero waste over vegan, others will pick vegan over zero waste. No right answer. No wrong answer. That’s fine. 

It’s important to concentrate on what we can do, not what we cannot do. Being vegan and zero waste is not unachievable. 

This lifestyle choice is a journey. We make mistakes and we learn from them. Focus on that aspect of zero waste that you can control and ignore what you have no control over. Remember that every sustainable step you take helps reduce your carbon footprint. This habit you consider small can make a huge impact. 

 Is It Challenging To Live A Zero-waste Lifestyle Especially As A Vegan? 

 Depends. Because I’m a vegan, I won’t argue with the store attendant to get my meat in my container. Also, I’m not a fan of yogurt. It takes 30 seconds to prepare oat milk.

Bottom line 

Being a vegan and practicing zero waste requires commitment, especially in today’s world where fast fashion and unsustainable convenience are the order of the day. 

Start with small steps and move on from there.

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