Zero waste lifestyles have been up and coming for some time now. Many who choose to follow zero waste living harp on how it’s not about completely and totally eliminating all the waste you create, but it’s about using and reusing your resources. It’s about making better, more eco-friendly choices, and it’s pretty easy to start living more sustainably.
Do keep in mind that you shouldn’t have to feel responsible for buying and using habits that large corporations have instilled in society. It’s true what they say: we as individuals cannot save the planet. However, in a consumer-driven market, our spending and using habits affect the big guys and can command change. Small scale changes from a large population can have a huge impact.
Living sustainably is about being more conscientious of your habits and doing the best you can to reduce and reuse your personal waste. If you’ve been wanting to live a low or zero waste lifestyle in Baton Rouge but don’t know where to start, don’t have the time to research, or are just intimidated by the whole of it, this is the place for you.
Consider this your ultimate guide on how to start living a more sustainable lifestyle in the Capital City.
Ditch the single-use items:
From grocery bags to water bottles, we produce a lot of plastic waste (which can never truly decompose!). Buying reusable items can tremendously reduce your plastic use; for example, instead of buying packs of 32 water bottles every week, invest in a water filter and have one or two reusable bottles to reduce plastic and save you money.
Note: The following product links are examples. You can find these or similar items in stores.
Pro-Tip: Many grocery stores sell reusable bags near the check-out line. Pick one up next time you go shopping. When you start using them, just hand them to the cashier before checking out!
Water bottles and coffee cups
BYOC (Bring Your Own Cup):
Sometimes you don’t even realize how much waste you accumulate throughout the day. Bringing your things like cups to coffee shops or carrying around reusable utensils is an easy way to live that “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. Most places won’t mind you using your own cups for drinks instead of their plastic or paper options.
A few examples of coffee shops that allow BYOC
- CC’s Coffee House
- Light House Coffee
- District Donuts
- French Truck Coffee
- …And so many more
Bonus: Many coffee shops offer discounts for bringing your own cup, and many sell their own reusable cups! If you plan on grabbing a bite to eat, bring your own utensils with you to replace plastic options! Either silverware from your kitchen or bamboo ones like these work great.
Don’t be afraid to ask:
The toughest part when starting out is asking for what you want. Don’t be shy. Some people may be put off when you ask to use your own containers or cups in stores or when you tell them you don’t want a straw, but they just aren’t used to it. Most places will be more than happy to accommodate you with whatever you ask. If they do say “no,” don’t let it get you down — you’re doing what you can.
Think about how much packaging is used for your groceries. Meat is placed on styrofoam boards and wrapped in plastic, and vegetables are often packaged in plastic. Look for bulk sections of loose items so you can package your own spices, grains or vegetables, and try shopping at local butchers or farmers markets. You get better quality items, and you just supported the local economy!
Other stores for local ingredients and bulk shopping
Being conscientious of your waste doesn’t limit you to just minimizing plastic use. Carpooling with friends on a night out or to the movies is just better. Plus you get more quality time together. Also consider public transportation or biking for even less pollution.
Carpool resources in Baton Rouge
Capital Area Transit System (CATS)
There is no way to stop it. You will inevitably still be producing trash and plastic — that’s OK! You can recycle it through city services or drop it off at your own convenience.
How and where to recycle
- See pick-up recycling services and scheduling in your area
- Request Recycling Services
- Drop-off your recycling
What to recycle
- Aluminum, tins, food cans, metal lids, aluminum foil and pie pans
- White or colored office paper, paper bags, magazines, catalogs
- Plastics #1 through #7
- Cardboard and glass
Fast-fashion produces more waste than you think. One of the easiest ways to start reducing your waste is donating clothing, thrifting and shopping smart! When shopping, look for better quality clothing from natural materials. Donate to and thrift at local shops for the best bang-for-your-buck.
Where to donate and buy used in Baton Rouge
When buying new
Look for natural materials like cotton, wool and silk
Stay away from synthetics like polyester and nylon
Zero waste blogs to follow:
If you need more advice or are moving on to more advanced levels of your waste-free life, these bloggers have dedicated themselves to the zero waste lifestyle. Check out their stuff for more tips and tricks.
Baton Rouge-based blogs
Voting is always important. This is where we, as individuals, can command the most change. Voting for the right bills (and leadership) can lead to improvements. Your voice does matter. Let your local government know you want to see more green actions by voting in local elections or calling your senators.