Industrialization, factories churning out high volumes of goods for lower costs, the booming retail industry – our “civilization” has created so much waste. Thousands of tons of items, no longer wanted, are being dumped into landfills as we speak. Hence the start of the new, mindful lifestyle.
Zero waste is not just a concept. It’s a journey of change.
Isn’t Recycling Already Solving the Problem?
Sadly, recycling doesn’t solve everything – most significantly, the problem of plastic waste. The reality is that not all plastic is recyclable. National Geographic’s “Planet or Plastic” issue highlights how a pitifully low percentage of plastic is actually recycled due to the lack of infrastructure, high costs, and heavy energy usage in the process.
Landfills aren’t bottomless black holes. Filling them up is like hiding your rubbish bag under your living room carpet. Zero waste goes back to the source of the problem.
For your first steps into this revolutionary journey, we’ll be focusing on single-use disposables, kitchen waste and old, undonatable clothes. Let’s get right into it!
1. Bring Your Own Bottle
It’s easy to drop by the convenience store, get a bottle of water for the day, and toss it away before you head home. But where does that bottle go? You don’t see it, but it’s still on this planet. For a five-day workweek, that’s 5 plastic bottles. A month? 20 bottles. A year? 240. From one person alone.
You just need one reusable water bottle to start. Better yet, get one with a sling or handle. Start bringing it to work, to field trips, to college – you can do it!
2. Bring Your Own Food Container (+ Utensils!)
It’s encouraging to see many restaurants using paper-based boxes for takeaways. Unfortunately, it doesn’t break down in landfills. Newspapers and mail catalogs were found to be still intact even after 20 years. If something as flimsy as paper doesn’t decompose, what about everything else?
If you’re going to the bakery or heading to the nice restaurant that serves large portions of food that you never finish, take your Tupperware along with you.
3. Use Your Own Bag
You may have noticed reusable bags popping up in your local grocery store. If you’re already using it, congratulations! But what about the other stores? When you buy a T-shirt, do you really need a plastic bag with the shop’s name printed on it?
The usual woven grocery bags are bulky to fit into our handbags (Ladies, I hear you), so invest in a reusable nylon one. Flat, lightweight – perfect for light grocery purchases or clothes shopping.
4. Compost Your Kitchen Waste
Potato skin, apple cores, fruit peelings, damaged leafy vegetables … Every piece, though unpretty, contains nutrients that can be absorbed back by our precious Mother Earth to grow new produce. Prepare a large flower pot and toss your kitchen waste into it. Cover adequately with soil and brown material. Wait for 1 to 2 months and see how nature works its magic!
Tip: Dried leaves are a wonderful source of brown material. Besides kitchen waste, you’ll be diverting your garden waste into the right place, too!
5. Upcycle Old (Undonatable) Clothes
Most of us associate old clothes with “giving to charity”. However, partly due to the explosive growth of fast fashion, there are so many old clothes being donated that charities are unable to filter through them all. Many end up in landfills and incinerators.
Your old clothes may have an unsalvageable hole or two, but they make amazing braided rugs, pillowcases, and even reusable bags. For those who quilt, your clothes can be a great source of fabric as well!
The responsibility we learned since childhood was “Don’t litter.” No one taught us, “Don’t create litter in the first place.” Indeed, since the beginning of industrialization, going without the idea of rubbish is uncharted territory. We know how to fly to space, we connected the entire world. But rubbish? Can this even be solved?
Don’t worry. We’re learning, too. Take your first step into zero waste with us today.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Great tips–loved this article. Thank you!
Thanks Laura! Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. 🙂