Do I really create less trash by buying in bulk, or do I just leave the trash in the store?
The dry goods the bulk bins are filled with usually come in huge bags that exceed household needs. Yes, some are still packaged in plastics, but overall, it is like sharing a big bulk-sized portion with other customers.
Also, the packaging you get when you buy regular products isn't all there is. Your shampoo bottle had most likely been shrink-wrapped to another five bottles...
So yes, shopping at the bulk bins does mean you leave part of the trash in the store (unless you ask them to cut off some of the packaging for you to take home). But putting regular items into your cart does too. And overall, it is a lot less trash.
Isn't a zero waste lifestyle very expensive?
It is very affordable IF you don't just substitute your regular products for an organic bulk option. YES, we do spend a lot more money on food, because we only buy organic produce and dry goods. However, you will most likely be able to get your hands on conventional produce in some ethnic supermarkets too.
And that's pretty much everything we spend our money on, if you don't count rent and utilities, which probably won't be affected too much by going zero waste, unless you are willing downsize, which we are so ready for by the way 😉. And if you do, this will only save you money!
We only have what we truly need. We keep our wardrobe or electronics at a minimum. Each and every piece of clothing we own we love to wear. We have a laptop and a smartphone each, my husband still has his old iPad, and I have my DSLR camera. No TV, no radio, no MP3 player, no TiVo, or whatever people have in their homes. We still have our bluetooth speakers but we plan on giving those away. We implement the 1 in, 1 out rule. Or rather, in our case it's the 1 out, 1 in rule: we only buy to replace, not to add to our inventory. And we try to buy secondhand first, which is a lot cheaper than buying new things!
More Zero Waste Questions Answered
We hardly spend any money on cleaning or beauty products. Our all-purpose cleaner consists only of citric acid and water. One (cardboard) box of citric acid costs 2.75 € (~ 3 US$) and you get 37.5 liters (9.9 gallons) all-purpose cleaner out of it! Instead of the thousands of creams and lotions I now use (organic) cooking oils we also use in the kitchen. It's even cheaper than drug store lotions – and it's organic and it's toxic-free.
Swapping single-use items for reusables also saves us money in the long run. We don't have to constantly spend money on cotton balls, tissues, napkins, sponges, wipes... Oh, and did I mention we basically only drink (beautifully infused) tap water, which means we save so much money on a) bottled water, and b) sugary drinks.
But the real money saver is saving money on all the mostly small amounts you usually spend without a second thought: The bottle of water, the coffee to go on your way to work, the can of soda, the bar of chocolate. AND also because, being a conscious consumer, you basically don't impulse buy anymore. A couple of months ago I had the pleasure to meet fellow zero waster and PhD student Hannah in Oxford, UK, who I know from Instagram (@hannahsplasticproject), and I just LOVED how she summed it up: "Seriously, what should I even impulse buy – a broccoli?"
Why is decluttering considered zero waste? Isn't it creating more trash?
I believe it is a matter of HOW you declutter. For me, decluttering is also about re-distribution. I believe there are more than enough things have been produced. What we need to do is to re-distribute them instead of draining our resources to produce new things. Unlike Marie Kondo makes it seem, decluttering is not about just throwing your things away, but to put them to good use.
Of course you will always stumble upon broken items, and these you should try to recycle so they can be used so we don't run out of resources as fast. And if these items cannot be recycled – well, in that case storing them at home means we need to use virgin resources instead until those things enter the recycling stream.