Can We Really Live a Zero-Waste Lifestyle?
You feel you owe a duty of love and tender care to the planet. You feel the need to protect an earth threatened by out-of-control pollution. You would want to do your little bit by cutting back on your carbon footprint in the world.
You are not alone. An increasing number of people all over the world are making efforts towards a lifestyle that is kinder on the environment.
A zero-waste lifestyle.
A zero-waste life is more than just a popular phrase. It’s more than buying fresh food and storing them in glass jars. It’s a philosophy. A way of life that is devoted to living mindfully, sustainably and deciding daily to avoid sending anything to the landfill or incinerator.
Zero waste means generating as little trash as possible from the household.
According to a 2017 study published in the Science Advances journal, 91 percent of the plastic in the world are not recycled, 79 percent ends up in landfills or litter parts of the environment. If nothing is done to check these recycling and consumption rates, it’s projected that about 12,000 metric tons of plastic waste will choke the environment by 2050.
If you have considered going zero-waste, it important that you brush up on the fundamentals and get some expert guidance from the people who live it daily.
To that end, we have sought the advice of influencer and thought leaders in zero-waste living. They have provided practical steps that would help anyone transition seamlessly from living neck-deep in plastic bags and disposables to a new way of shopping, eating and cleaning.
Getting started with the zero-waste lifestyle
When you take stock of the amount of waste coming out of your household each day, you’re going to be overwhelmed. But fret not. No one achieves zero waste overnight. The idea is to take baby steps, and in no time, you’ll be on your way to meeting your bigger trash-elimination goals.
Here are tips to get you started.
1. Start with “The 5Rs.”
If you’re looking to start a zero-waste lifestyle, you should start from the fundamentals – the 5Rs.
- Refuse: All that stuff you do not really need.
- Reduce: Question every purchase. Do not buy if the item can’t be used repeatedly.
- Reuse: Opt for reusable items instead of disposables.
- Repurpose: Convert things into other practical uses after they may have passed their lifespan.
- Recycle: Finally, recycle everything that is recyclable.
2. Use smaller quantities
Consumer products are designed to encourage you to use more than is necessary. With practice, you’ll find out that using less toothpaste, washing detergent, soap, etc does the same job as larger quantities.
3. Avoid processed food
Eat natural food like vegetables, fruits and anything else that is not wrapped in a package. Cutting back on processed food also means your diet will be healthier.
4. Identify and reject waste
Always be on the lookout for potential waste. Next time someone gives you something – disposable cup, plastic grocery bag, or some souvenir from an event, question it’s usefulness to you. Can you do without it? The ability to identify waste – no matter how small is very vital.
5. Find support in zero waste communities
Join zero waste communities to keep your motivation up. You will also learn useful tips and tricks from others in the group, whether online or in person.
Here are some essential items that will help you ditch disposables.
Five important products to embrace
1. Reusable water bottle
Plastic bottles are some of the most notorious waste items. According to the Guardian, 1 million plastic bottles are purchased all over the world every 60 seconds. This numbers could significantly increase if consumers don’t cut down.
Get a reusable bottle, preferably insulated, so you can store cold or hot beverages
Replace plastic disposables and ziplock bags with inexpensive glass jars to store your supplies. You can also repurpose sauce and mayonnaise jars.
3. Cloth bags and totes
Use cloth bags to buy grocery and other supplies. You can make them yourself from old clothes. These reusable tote bags help you eliminate plastic and [paper bags while shopping.
4. Reusable utensils
Completely avoid using disposable utensils like drinking straws. You can buy straws, and other utensils made with durable materials like bamboo, stainless steel, silicone, and glass.
Replace tissues and napkins with the old-fashioned handkerchiefs. They are easy to make or can be bought inexpensively and are quite useful for wiping your nose or mouth.
Some misconceptions about zero waste
With all the benefits of a zero waste living, you would think that everyone will embrace the lifestyle wholeheartedly. But there are common misconceptions about the lifestyle which discourage lots of people from going zero waste.
- It’s expensive. Most people erroneously believe that zero waste living is expensive. It’s actually the opposite. Followers of zero living attributed the lifestyle to improve their financial health. Considerable savings, up to 40% has been achieved by those practicing zero living. Yes. Minimalist measures like buying food in bulk, making useful things from everyday items, buying second hand and reusing shopping bags and containers equally save money.
- You will live a spartan-like difficult lifestyle. Another common misconception is that you will be forced to deny yourself certain pleasures. for instance, you could start avoiding your favorite food or snack due to packaging concerns. The truth is that there’s always a recipe out there for any food you can think of. And you do not have to be an expert chef to put them together too. While zero living is not easy, it doesn’t require as much effort as people believe.
- Of course, you will produce a little waste. Some people get discouraged when despite their best efforts, some waste is produced. What you should know is that the term “zero waste” is an ideological goal. It serves to motivate you to reduce waste to the barest minimum. Don’t rubbish your efforts when some rubbish still happens.
Every little effort – making compost from food wastes, reusing a cloth bag, or making fruit juice yourself – can add up considerably in reducing waste.
In your zero waste journey, it pays to have patience and enjoy the baby steps.