11 steps toward going “zero waste” in the bedroom
“Zero waste” is a movement that’s rapidly gaining in popularity. It’s a lifestyle that embraces minimalism; rejects the ubiquitous disposable items that are everywhere in our society; challenges mainstream consumerism; and encourages people to come up with alternative reusable solutions to everyday life.
In the context of the articles I write about my personal quest for zero waste living, “waste” refers to municipal solid waste (MSW), not energy or water waste. MSW is the kind of trash that gets hauled to landfills. This also includes recycling, which may seem like a good thing, but has its own share of problems. (Read more about that here.)
No household is perfect, but small changes can yield big results. I still take out a bag of trash each week, but each time it’s a bit smaller. Instead of putting out an overflowing box of recycling every other week, I now do it only once a month. Hopefully these tips can guide and encourage you to pare down your household needs and to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever you can.
Make your bedroom a sanctuary of simplicity and relaxation with the following zero waste tips.
In the closet:
1. Reduce the total number of clothes you keep. Choose the ones you love wearing and are comfortable, and get rid of superfluous ones crammed in the closet.
2. Wear out those clothes before you pitch them. Mend holes or have pieces fixed by a seamstress before tossing them in the trash. Take shoes to a cobbler before tossing.
3. Shop only once or twice a year, with a specific list of items in hand. This will reduce the likelihood of compulsive buys. Always take a reusable shopping bag.
4. Give priority to thrift stores and hand-me-downs. Next, visit local retailers and clothes designers. Try to avoid “fast fashion” chains as much as possible. Buying fewer and higher quality items is better in the long run than cheap “disposable” clothes, as they will last longer and are easier to repair.
5. When clothes reach their end of life, donate all wearable ones to thrift stores. For those that are beyond use, find a textile recycler such as Planet Aid that will turn your old clothes into paving materials, paper money, ball stuffings, and carpets.
In the bedroom:
6. Buy a green mattress that won’t off-gas.
7. Look for natural fiber bedding at thrift stores, where it comes without excess plastic packaging and tags. I have found many fabulous designer sheets with high cotton thread counts for mere dollars.
8. Reduce the amount of furniture in the bedroom. You don’t need more than a bed, reading light, and possibly a dresser. Less stuff means less to clean, organize, and pitch when it breaks.
9. If buying furniture, opt for used or antique items, as their carbon footprint per year of use is much less than anything new.
10. Make a headboard from something old, i.e. an old door, scrap wood, an iron gate. Use your imagination!
11. Keep a stack of handkerchiefs or flannel sheets handy at all times, instead of Kleenex.