Have you ever wondered how you could adopt a zero-waste lifestyle?
The Zero Waste movement and philosophy is all about living a life minimizing your waste by making conscious and eco-friendly choices.
Low-waste living is one where everything you own has a purpose.
People who practice zero waste don’t just send less plastic and food scraps to landfills—their mission is to create a lifestyle where that enables them to reduce their overall consumption and buy fewer new things.
It’s not just about recycling; it’s also about reducing your footprint on the planet through sustainable choices, like buying in bulk and composting.
Even though there is more than enough to go around, our planet still suffers from the effects of overconsumption. In 2017, the average American generated 4.4 pounds of trash per day, according to the EPA’s Municipal Solid Waste in America report. That’s a lot of waste!
We can make a difference if we become more conscious about our consumption habits and lifestyle choices.
If you’re interested in being part of the zero waste movement but don’t know where to start, here are some simple tips for getting started with your own zero waste journey.
That’s right. In the eyes of the planet, everything you produce is functional.
Why do we have so many things that are single use and we see them as something that needs to be thrown away without questioning where they are going and what will be their impact on the environment?
We are the only species on Earth that create a type of waste (plastic for example) that is not functional for the planet —but we don’t have to! We can make better-informed choices with the products we buy so their footprint is not so heavy on the environment.
The answer is not straightforward as everyone has a different understanding of what zero-waste means.
My goal is to show you how easy it is to make just a few changes in your life and explain to you why those changes will have an incredibly positive impact on our planet.
Here are three simple things you can consider doing today to kick-start your low-waste living journey:
● Buy only what you need. Take inventory of everything in your house and think about why they’re there before purchasing anything new. Do you need another coffee mug? Can’t get by without an extra pair of shoes? Wait until they break or wear out before getting another one—there’s no need to buy something if it’s going to end up unused or forgotten at the back of a cupboard anyway.
● Make sure every item you purchase has a purpose. Before you buy something, ask yourself: “Why do I want it?” If it seems like an indulgence rather than a necessity (or even if it does have some practical application), reconsider whether or not it’ll be worth its space in your life.
● Recycle everything you can. Simple, zero-waste living is about reducing the amount of stuff you consume, reusing it when possible, and recycling everything else.
The 5 R’s that rule the Zero-Waste lifestyle, is a concept first launched with “Zero-Waste Home”, a book published in 2013 by the author Bea Johnson.
In the book, Bea shares the journey that she and her family took to switch from a high-consumerism lifestyle to a minimalistic and more sustainable one.
If you’re trying to live a simple, zero-waste life, remember the 5 Rs.
The “5 Rs” is a simple way to remember what you can do to reduce waste. Reduce what you buy, reuse items that are thrown away, recycle those that can’t be reused and rotting food waste is part of this too.
These five concepts should help guide your daily routines and habits if you want to live a zero-waste life.
The 5 Rs are an excellent way to think about how to achieve a simpler and more eco-conscious lifestyle, let’s explore them here:
It’s important to refuse. Refuse to buy things you don’t need, refuse to accept something that is not recyclable or compostable, and refuse to buy things that are made of plastic.
If possible, it would be best for everyone if we were able to go back in time and never invent single-use plastics at all. But since that isn’t an option, we must do everything we can with what remains of these materials, so they don’t end up in landfills or oceans.
Reduce the amount of waste you produce. Reducing your carbon footprint is a great way to reduce waste output and minimize environmental harm.
Reduce the amount of plastic you use by carrying reusable bags with you when shopping and avoiding single-use plastic wrap for covering bowls or leftovers at home (learn more about reducing plastic here) (learn more about reducing plastic here).
Reduce food waste by cooking only what’s needed or meal planning, eating your leftovers, buying only as much as you need from bulk bins, and composting organic matter instead of throwing it away.
Reuse is the third step in the 5 Rs of zero waste and it is all about extending the life of each product, focusing on moving away from single-use plastic.
Here is a simple statistic for you: plastic takes on average 500 years to decompose. This means that all the plastic that was ever produced still exists on our planet in some form. I am sure you are looking at your cupboard right now and at that stash of mono-use plastic plates and forks, you have bought for your camping trip!
It is challenging trying to imagine a life without plastic, unfortunately, but we all can do simple changes in our everyday life to reuse what we have many times.
Some examples of products that will help you in your “reuse” journey:
– carry with you a shopping bag made of fabric
– buy a reusable water bottle made of steel or glass
– switch to toothbrushes made of bamboo and reuse the handle for your plants
– don’t throw away your old clothes, they still can be used in many ways such as rags for dusting or cleaning
Recycling is one of the most important things you can do for your community, yourself, and our planet.
It’s easy to start; just look for recycling bins at your local grocery store or neighbourhood. If you’re not sure what to recycle, take a look at some of these everyday recyclable items:
● Aluminum cans and foil
● Plastic bottles (with labels removed)
● Cardboard boxes
The best way to recycle is by separating your recyclables into different categories—plastic, cardboard, paper, aluminium — and putting them into separate bins.
This makes it easier for recycling centres to sort materials at their facilities.
Composting is a process that turns organic waste into a soil additive used in gardens or potted plants.
There are many types of composting bins and worm farms nowadays and they make composting easy even in small spaces such as apartments. Composting is an effective way to recycle your food scraps, transforming your leftovers into precious organic material that your plants will love!
The decision to embrace a zero or low-waste lifestyle is not just about reducing the amount of trash you produce, it’s also about saving time, money, and resources by making small daily choices.
The choice of this lifestyle will most likely impact your life in some ways, such as:
● You’ll save money on food waste by buying in-season fresh fruits and vegetables rather than bottled or processed ones. You will learn to favour products that come with natural wrappings instead of plastic packaging, as well as pay attention to selecting canned goods without BPA lining the cans, etc.
● You’ll reduce your carbon footprint by starting to buy our fruits and veggies at local markets, eliminating unnecessary transport costs for disposable items.
● You will quickly learn to select products that are kinder to the planet but also healthier for you, such as choosing feminine products made from cotton instead of synthetic fibres, which are dangerous for your body but also require more energy input during production than their cotton counterparts.
● You will choose products that can be reused many times. Single-use plastics such as straws/lids/bottles create pollution if disposed of improperly because they cannot decompose naturally, as other biodegradable materials would do over time. By relying less on these items, you will reduce the pressure placed upon our beautiful planet.
Essentially, becoming zero waste will help protect your health, the environment, and wildlife.
Many benefits arise from sensibly reducing your waste. You can reduce your carbon footprint and exposure to toxic chemicals, plastic pollution, microplastics, and plastic packaging.
Reducing the amount of waste you produce is good for the environment and will help protect your health.
So, what are you waiting for? Start reducing your waste today. Experience the convenience of living a zero-waste lifestyle and tell your friends and loved ones how much better you feel.