Zero waste lifestyle is about refusing, reducing, recycling, reusing, re-purposing, rethinking and repairing. It means avoiding packaging, prioritizing old over new, embracing second-hand and sharing resources. Zero waste is about consuming less and sending nothing to the landfill.
Have you ever thought about how much trash and waste you produce in a day? Your participation in green efforts is significantly important. It’s a slow progress but it’s progressing. We’ve listed 8 tips on how we can embrace a zero waste lifestyle. Let us not only practice these habits on Earth day only, but everyday.
1. Focus on small yet meaningful changes
Find small waste reducing adjustments to implement without changing your routine too much. You may start with simple actions such as carrying your own water bottle or reusable coffee mug to the cafe to avoid disposable cups. Refusing plastic straws or don’t even using a straw is also another small achievement.
2. Switch from disposable to reusable
BYOB, bring your own bags when you go shopping. You should start practicing to pack lunch or take away your food by using stainless steel or glass containers (bring your own container, BYOC). Rather than storing items in plastic containers, you can reuse the metal or glass jars for food and kitchen ingredients storage. Metal and silicone straws are great examples of now-common zero waste products as well.
3. Repurpose, reuse and repair
Repurpose your old clothings to use as cleaning cloths and handkerchiefs to cut down the buying of tissues, wipes or paper towels. A little repair for small appliances, electronics and even garments and ceramics can go a long way towards preventing unnecessary waste.
4. Borrow or exchange
You can actually ask your friends, family, neighbours or even colleagues if they are willing to lend you the things that you need, for example, a prom dress, a drill and so on. Besides, books, movies, games and tools can all be borrowed from the libraries or exchange with your friends and family. Borrowing or exchanging instead of buying is a way to reduce unnecessary waste. It is always better to refuse, reduce, reuse and repair before recycling anything.
5. Bulk buying
One part of going zero waste and cutting down on both waste and recyclable materials is buying in bulk as much as possible. There are many stores that offer the option of bulk buying especially natural groceries and health food items. You could bring simple mesh bags to hold rice, nuts and oats; bring jars for items like flour, cheese, meats and other items. Shopping this way creates zero trash and often saves your money because bulk buys are typically cheaper. Besides, buying in bulk cuts down on product packing and transportation costs as well as reduces waste. So, it’s cost-effective and good for the environment.
Food composting is simple so that everyone can do it. Use containers with charcoal filters to eliminate smell and these bins are stored on your countertop. Add in food scraps, eggshells, vegetables and even paper products to the compost. When the container has filled up, move to the outdoors and mix with leaves, grass or even wood shavings. Your compost needs oxygen and moisture, and with the right mixture, your compost should smell like earthy dirt. Composting not only reduces trash but also a rich fertiliser to your garden.
Recycling is the last resort to manage broken and irreparable items. Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects to prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials. Clean bottles, cans, paper and cardboard are all recyclable items. You can also donate your clothes to NGOs or some clothing stores that run the recycling program such as Uniqlo, H&M, Zara , Levi’s and more.
8. Be realistic
Get yourself in the correct mindset before you start exploring on the ways to go zero waste. You can’t expect yourself to go completely zero waste at the very beginning. Most of us would need to take steps over time to cut down on trash and waste. Most importantly, stay realistic and focus on how you will make a sustainability lifestyle work and how you will deal with any anticipated obstacles and challenges.
Regardless of how menial and small one’s contribution may be, it will still contribute to the society’s collective effort and eventually generate a difference. Though we’re not ready to go completely zero waste, we can all take steps toward minimizing our waste and cutting back on trash. Remember, small actions, big impact.