So you want to start a zero or low waste lifestyle, eh?
Awesome! You're on your way to sustainable awareness. But don't go full throttle just yet. You need to know the basics and the five Rs before jumping in. Start in first gear: the reason. Write down the reason you want to reduce your waste. Is it because you've seen Plastic Ocean and want to do something to help? Is it because you want to save money or get out of debt? Or is it that you're just tired of all the stuff? You need to have a reason to do something to motivate you to move forward with the lifestyle.
Second gear: the five Rs. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Rot.
Refuse what you don't need. That bag of goodies that are handed out at conventions or events isn't something you need or probably even want. It will probably stay in the closet or in a corner collecting dust until you do your spring cleaning and end up in a landfill anyways. Same goes for those free samples at the store. Most likely those samples will be something you won't like and the packaging will be landfilled.
Reduce what you do need. Do you really need all those eye shadows when you know you love and use only one of them? Unless you're a make up artist/ Youtuber, you don't need them. Reducing what you need is more like using those eye shadows up instead of just purging anything you don't use. Use everything up that you can before purchasing new items. You also might consider reducing that daily Starbucks run, as well.
Reuse what you can. That empty jam jar that you were going to toss? Clean it out and use it as a storage container for snacks or make pesto or another sauce and put it in there. Reuse that plastic bag for groceries until it rips then cut it into strips and make a basket out of it. Make your own cleaners and reuse that squirt bottle that had the window cleaner in it.
Recycle it. Anything that can be recycled needs to go in the recycling. When I'm done eating my yogurt (no one is completely zero waste), I wash out the little cup and recycle it. Same goes for all the paper from bills and schoolwork as well as the glass olive oil containers and the pasta boxes.
Rot the rest. All organic items can go in the compost. Those leftovers that didn't taste good, put it in the compost. Those strawberries that went bad before you could get to them can go there as well. This is probably the easiest one to partake in if you have access to industrial composting facilities or have a backyard. There are ways to do a worm compost bin in an apartment, but I am not the gal to go to for that.
If you remember your reason of starting and the five Rs, you will be on your way to reducing your ecological footprint and saving money.