What is Zero Waste? The Principles Behind the Movement
There are tons of YouTube videos trending recently on the Zero Waste challenge. Homeowners have been trying the 30-day zero-waste lifestyle challenge and the one-week zero-waste challenge. And to their surprise, the zero-waste lifestyle can be rewarding. But what is it? Can you really produce zero waste for a whole month?
Contrary to the term, producing zero waste for a month or even your whole life is impossible? A zero-waste lifestyle also doesn’t mean that you have to live a life in the mountains making everything from nature and getting no produce from the grocery store. What the lifestyle practically means is this: to reduce overall consumption and waste that goes to landfills.
This goal is achievable; This challenge is acceptable; Anyone can do it in their own simple way!
You can start living a zero-waste lifestyle by buying sustainable fashion; by consuming less and by recycling products. You can try the zero-waste lifestyle challenge for a week. Then maybe you can extend it for two weeks or a month. Before you know it, you have been doing it for years!
So, let’s get started!
How to Start a Zero-Waste Lifestyle?
The key to starting this lifestyle is not to overwhelm yourself. Once you realize that there is a lot of waste coming from your home, do not set a goal that is not achievable. Instead, start small and progress yourself into it.
Here are practical tips on how to start:
1.The 5 Rs
Consider these 5 Rs as the ultimate tenet of a zero-waste lifestyle. According to Bea Johnson’s bestselling book “Zero Waste Home” these 5Rs are the five rules to live a zero-waste lifestyle:
●Refuse what you do not need
●Reduce what you do not need
●Reuse what you consume
●Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce and reuse
●And Rot (compost) the rest
2.Saying No is a Big Yes!
Saying no can be a big yes. When you buy fruit at a supermarket, say no to plastic containers.
When you buy a smoothie or a milkshake, say no to plastic straws. When you attend a conference, say no to disposable pens. There are small things that you can say no to that can be a big YES for the zero-waste lifestyle.
3.Eating “Real” Food
Cut back on processed food. Eat real food that does not come in packaging. Eat fresh vegetables, fruits, and the like. Anne Marie Bonneau, the Zero-Waste Chef, recommends fresh foods instead of “convenient” microwaveable food. It does not just cut on the waste; it also will make you live a healthier lifestyle.
In a consumerist world we are in, the goal of most people is to acquire more and more. But with the current situation on the world’s carbon footprint (humanity’s carbon footprint has increased 11-fold since 1961 according to the Global Footprint Network), we need to think twice about our consumption. Therefore, we need to use less. Use less toothpaste, soap, detergents. Use less of everything. Most consumer products are designed for you to buy more. You can do your part in consuming less.
- Join Zero-Waste Communities
Keep yourself motivated. Sometimes it can be hard to do it on your own. Joining communities will help you and others as well. Look for inspiration in blogs, videos, and communities. You will also be able to get tips on where to buy better products like sustainable fashion, better food, and reusable products.
Let’s Get Started on The Zero Waste Challenge
1.Zero Waste One Room at a time
You can start in the kitchen. This room is where we generate the most waste. Food packaging, single-use plastics, cleaning supplies, and other kitchen garbage are the most generated wastes in the kitchen. What you can do is this:
Eliminate single-use products – Replace products like paper towels, coffee filters, plastic dish scrubs, parchments, and even aluminum foil. Alternatives like compostable cloths, filter-free coffee maker, metal baking dish, wooden cutting boards are best counterparts for the kitchen.
Change cleaning supplies – kitchen cleaning products not just come in one-time-use packaging but can sometimes be harmful to the environment. An alternative is a white vinegar and baking soda.
Control food waste – 45% of all household waste is food wastes. It means that composting is a good option. There are video tutorials on how you can compost food waste. You can also drop by your local municipality’s compost pit.
Personal care products in single-used packaging often end up in landfills. Eliminating these from your bathroom can help stop the demand and also save you money. How many times do you replace your toothbrush in a year? Now, how many people do that as well? There are bamboo toothbrushes that are compostable and are now easy to find in supermarkets. There are also alternative brands of toothpaste, conditioners, shampoos that are more environmentally friendly.
Change your linens and pillow with natural materials; Streamline your fashion habits; Buy sustainable fashion. Statistics show that an average American only wears 30% of their wardrobe. If this is your case, it makes sense to get rid of items you don’t use and free up your closet. Limit “sale” shopping. Only shop for necessary items and sustainable items. Sewing up small holes in your bed linen is better than buying a new set. Rethink your bedroom setup.
2. Zero Waste Outside the Home
Inside the home, you can control the home waste that you produce, but outside the home, can you go zero-waste? Yes! Eating out, shopping, doing your groceries, and even entertainment.
Use reusable shopping bags, bring reusable straws, stainless cups and beverage containers, washable travel napkins, clean jars with lids for your grocery errands, and spice containers. The list goes on and on. There are initiatives left and right that can help you have a zero-waste lifestyle.
Saying Yes to the Zero-Waste Lifestyle!
In today’s fast-paced society, it can be hard to say no to convenience. Saying yes to zero-waste can be hard. When you go to supermarkets, eat at restaurants, ride airplanes, even at home, there are potential waste materials. By simply saying no to certain things lessen the demand. You lessen overall waste by saying no to packed meals. You lessen waste by saying no to plastic straws. These simple things can mean big in the long run.
So, all you need to do is take the zero-waste lifestyle challenge. You can try it for a week, or a month or even longer.
About the Author:
Vinita Turakhia is a Hong Kong-based mum and entrepreneur. She believes in reusing, recycling, and making choices that are environmentally friendly.
She runs a plant-based fashion accessories brand called ‘Genuinely not Leather’ in HK through which she manufacturers and markets cork fabric and teak leaf fabric handbags. Please visit www.gnlaccessories.com for more information.