What is a Zero Waste lifestyle? And can a zero-waste lifestyle “be a reality” Why should we follow one? Or what is it to begin with?
Read on to find out!
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What is a “Zero-waste lifestyle?”
Our lives are filled with so much activity – eating, traveling, washing, shopping, working, etc. Have you ever wondered how much waste you might have generated in the course of just one day?
Now, what is a zero-waste lifestyle? Are we asking you to stop using things?
No! In simple words, a zero-waste lifestyle refers to planning and managing our consumption to avoid and eliminate waste generation.
Making simple and slight changes in the way we conduct each of these activities holds the key to moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle. While it might take a lot of time and research to adopt one, here we are, making it easier for you!
Why zero-waste lifestyle is important?
While we have always been generating waste, adopting sustainable waste practices has now become a necessity, thanks to over-consumption by all of us.
The mountains of litter that we have generated over years are now proving to be a much bigger burden on us and our planet.
This is a red signal for us, pointing at our wasteful management of resources, as well as endless consumption. And any change towards a more sustainable society requires greater efforts at both individual and social levels. And we want to help you with both of them!
How to start a Zero-Waste lifestyle?
First step taken!
Have you ever looked at the trash can and wondered how it has piled up so quickly? Did you wish you could do something about it but felt like you feel like your contribution would change nothing?
But let us tell you that no change is small! Even the very intention of wanting to address this or taking part in solving the waste problem is itself a big contribution and a big step towards going zero-waste!
From here, there are many simple ways to incorporate a zero-waste lifestyle. But let us start by addressing our mindset first.
- AWARENESS AND EDUCATION
For any step that you take in your life, it is very important to understand what exactly it is and try to solve it, and how it will affect you and your surroundings.
To understand zero waste lifestyle, we’ll suggest you go through the definition of zero-waste. It’s not about being perfect; but about being aware and making more sustainable, eco-friendly choices daily and in the long run then.
- BE PATIENT
Rome was not built in a day! Remember? So, another important part of shifting to a zero-waste lifestyle is to have patience! You can’t just throw everything and start over in a day, because that will create nothing but a stronger urge to go back to your previous lifestyle.
- MAKE BETTER CHOICES
A zero-waste lifestyle is more about making better choices. Of course, there are still purchases that you need. But when you buy something, just take a moment to think about its full life-cycle, where it came from, and where it’s going to end up after you use it. This will help you in making a better choice!
- TALK TO PEOPLE
Even the people following this lifestyle started small, and one day at a time. So if you feel confused or have second doubts, ask your friends, family members, or anyone who has certain knowledge to see if there is a better alternative.
- FOLLOW THE 5 R’S OF ZERO WASTE
Based on the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Hierarchy, which is a United-States based agency, the 5 R’s are a very convenient way of simplifying zero-waste to follow:-
- Refuse – Refuse to buy things with lots of packaging or with single-use plastic like bags, cups, brushes, etc.
- Reduce – Avoid buying things you don’t need. Don’t rush to buy new things, rather check if you can use the previous one or not.
- Reuse – Reuse worn-out or second-hand items as much as you can, like steel or glass water bottles, clothes from thrift stores, etc.
- Recycle – It’s still better to recycle than simply sending waste to the landfill or on the roads just to litter. If you do not know how to recycle anything, just look it up on the internet, ask someone, or contact any nearby recycling facilities.
- Compost – Do you know that up to 80 percent of waste by weight is organic? But this rarely decomposes in landfills and, in return, generates harmful gases, so it’s better to compost your green/organic waste.
How to practice a zero-waste lifestyle?
Now let us get into some really easy and go to practices in your day-to-day life. These recommendations are in the steps of most easy to hard to follow:-
- USE WHAT YOU HAVE
This is the most simple and important to focus on, i.e. to use whatever you already have. Do you have extra jars, containers, boxes? Use them for storing food, stationary, dry foods, and other home stuff. Use wine or champagne glass bottles as an oil container or maybe a water bottle.
- BUY IF NECESSARY
This doesn’t mean not buying anything, but being selective of your choices, which will help in producing less trash. The less you consume, the less waste you will generate. You can do it by asking questions before you get something. Do you actually need it? Can something else work?
- BUY SECOND-HAND
Pre-used items not only reduce waste but save money and also the environment. Therefore, if possible, always consider second-hand items before buying anything. There are several online and thrift stores that let you do this easily!
- BRING YOUR OWN
Takeaways are our favorite! But just imagine how many times you take that trash at your home, and now think of thousands of people doing it, too. These contribute to a significant amount of waste.
Reduce this waste by bringing your food and drink, your own set of dishes, or utensils. You can also keep them in your car after using and cleaning them for takeout, picnics, etc. Get it from brands using sustainable packaging or utensils.
- ELIMINATE SINGLE-USE MATERIAL
Let’s do an exercise. Whenever you clean on weekends, note down whatever you throw out after a single-use, like plastic utensils, paper napkins, plastic water bottles, clothes, etc. After this, once you have a clear picture of it, try to replace it with a reusable product. e.g., cutlery items, glass, steel bottles, etc.
- BUY PLASTIC-FREE ITEMS
Absolutely! Avoid buying packed items. Buying natural or organic items from farmers’ markets or local markets contributes to an overall decrease in our trash output.
Do you know it’s easier to recycle cardboard and paper products since they break down more easily? So, choose cardboard over plastics, like pasta, detergent, pulses, etc. in the box or paper bags instead of the plastic bottle or wrappers.
- REPAIR THINGS
We have become habitual to throwing away things after a single use because either it is broken or old. Change this by checking the item, or repairing it before throwing it away e.g. Do you have a pen, a toy, or a lamp that won’t work? Check if you can fix it before rushing to buy a new one.
- GO DIGITAL!
You must have heard it hundreds of times! Avoid plastic or paper bills as much as you can by getting or viewing bills, notes, etc online. Going paperless will not only save paper but also the environment in the long run.
- USE DIFFERENT BINS
Setting up different bins for separating waste might sound hectic at the beginning, but eventually, it will help you in sorting out waste by recycling items, composting the leftovers or the organic waste, and segregating the non-recyclable waste. Remember to have clear labeling and always separate them.
- HAVE A ZERO-WASTE BATHROOM
Have you ever thought about plastic and non-biodegradable items relaxing in your bathrooms? They will chill there and in the environment for thousands of years if not replaced with better alternatives like zero waste shampoo, recyclable toilet paper, makeup, deodorant, bar soap for all your cleaning needs instead of items covered in harsh plastic.
All these practices might sound difficult initially and might not happen overnight. But, if you combine your minor efforts towards zero waste, you’ll succeed and go a long way in reducing waste in the environment.
Try to look at the products before buying them and if you think they can be harmful, give them up for a better environment. Be curious & innovative with your imagination to live a zero-waste lifestyle and you shall have it!