For the month of November 2017, I challenged myself to live trash-free. Inspired by a video put out by Buzzfeed and discussions about the overflowing recycling centers in the United States, I wanted to see how hard it would be to live without producing trash. Turns out, it’s nearly impossible – I created a handful of waste during my 30 days – but I was, overall, successful.

My rules were this: I could not produce any paper, plastic, Styrofoam, cardboard, or food waste. My exceptions were notebooks, paper for school, toilet paper, and toiletries. It was extremely hard to live trash-free, especially as a full-time student. The look on the campus bookstore barista’s face when I asked her to put my donut directly onto my hand and not use a paper to hand it over was awkward, to say the least.

Since my trek into trash-free living, I’ve developed some sustainable habits and I’d like to pass them on.

These tips will not only save you money, but it will help you save the Earth, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’re a good person anymore.

1. Mason jars aren’t just hipster trash anymore; they’re my favorite to-go containers! Are you like me, always losing your Tupperware lids? Or do you have a million lids but none that fit the container you’re using? Fear not, Mason jar lids fit almost any size of jar. You can pack yogurt, oatmeal, leftover pasta, berries, nuts, you name it! Made of glass, they’re going to last longer than plastic Tupperware and they’ll be nicer to recycle when you get rid of them.

2. Ceramic latte cups are better and cheaper. Did you know that you can’t recycle your coffee cup? Yeah, dude, that recycling symbol on the bottom is a LIE. Your daily espresso or two is ruining the earth. Did you know that in Mt. Hood’s 2016 waste audit, which audited the college waste of a single day (May 12), 7 percent of all refuse was single-use coffee cups? That’s one day, people. Imagine how many coffee cups get thrown in our trash cans in a month. So, drive your pretty little behind over to World Market and pick up a 16-ounce ceramic latte cup with a silicon lid (or three). The Earth will be happier and so will you, because the bookstore coffee shop gives a discount if you bring your own cup.

3. Reusable menstrual items! The fact that we’re using plastic and paper menstrual products is disgusting and barbaric. Also, many of them have been bleached and aren’t made with 100-percent cotton. Luckily, Portland has a company (Glad Rags) that sells reusable menstrual products, as well as the numerous other brands. Investing in some now will save you loads of moolah later, and it’s waaaaaaaay more comfortable. Trust me.

Anyway, those are just the easiest. If you want to learn more about sustainability, the college has a Sustainability Team that you’re welcome to join. With Earth Day on the horizon, and China no longer buying (much of) our recycling, it’s time to change some habits. Join me next year for #NoTrashNovember.

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