Zero waste living- Easy guide for beginners for zero waste lifestyle
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It seems very convenient to use the trash can, does not it? Every day we label most items as trash and throw them away, which ends up in a landfill. But what comes after that?
Mixed waste collected in landfills is difficult to recycle. Segregation of this waste requires human intervention, which increases the health risk of the workers tasked with separating it. Even more, recycling brings its own challenges.
Waste-free production cannot be achieved overnight. We can start by challenging our habits to reduce the amount of waste we produce.
Read More: Is there such a thing as humane dairy?
Understanding: If Zero waste is achievable
To achieve zero waste, the entire system must be changed. The packaged items you bring in, your shampoo bottles, milk cartons, and more, we are in some ways tied to things that make it difficult to achieve the zero waste goal. The goal is to be mindful of what we throw away so we can reduce our daily waste production.
What you can do to achieve the target of going waste-free?
If you want to focus on waste reduction methods, you should ask yourself what causes waste generation. The simple answer is that all non-consumables you buy must be disposed of after they are used. And if it turns out that these discarded products are not biodegradable or recyclable, then they end up in landfills forever.
These 7 points will guide you to achieve your targeted waste-free lifestyle.
1. Know your waste
The composition of your waste will be different from mine, and the same is true of others. But if you pay attention, your daily waste will be mostly the same. Try to make a checklist of the items that get thrown away each day, and figure out if you can stop using the same product the next day or if you can lookout for ways to reuse it.
2. Bio-degradable waste
This organic waste type accounts for nearly 40% of the total waste generated by an Indian household. These biodegradable items such as vegetable shreds and fruit peels can be consumed by animals. The remaining kitchen waste can be used to make compost at home. These degradable scraps are easy to handle and shouldn’t be mixed with the residual waste.
3. Eliminate single-use plastic
These use& throw plastic products like straws, earbuds, plastic cutleries, polybags and much more prove to be a major threat to the ecosystem. Neither it’s traceable nor recyclable. Eco-friendly alternatives to these single-use plastic products are available. If we can’t reduce our dependency on these products then at least we can choose green replacements which are not harmful to this planet.
4. Reuse or Recycle
Our long list of groceries includes cooking oil, shampoo, detergents, packed eatables, isn’t the packaging of all these products plastic? This type of waste is not a part of our everyday waste cycle, but maybe after two months of usage, these containers are required to be dumped. Can we take an initiative to send these to a recycling facility, maybe bi-monthly? This will ensure that the product will be a part of the circular economy and won’t end up in bins. And other items like glass containers or plastic ones that you feel can stay on your shelves for longer, try reusing them as further storage containers.
5. Eat whole plant foods
Yes, the meat and dairy industry requires resources that cause greenhouse emissions. Also, livestock emits methane which has been the second-largest contributor to global warming. Try reducing your dependency on animal products and shift to plant-based products like fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains.
6. Rent or buy second hand
Whenever you prefer to buy an item, look out for second-hand options, or if you need them for a short duration then why not rent it on. You are always given a chance to check the quality of your product and it saves a lot on cost too, so if you can get that product with less price then why not opt for it. Also, you too can sell your products that are not required to someone who requires them and not let them end up in a landfill.
7. Don’t go for the fast fashion industry
For a fact, one garbage truck of clothing and textiles is sent to a landfill or burned every second. And to cut costs and production time, the fashion industry is neglecting the environmental impacts it’s leaving behind. Very often new products are introduced in the market and demand increases. We as buyers need to be cautious about our choices or over-shopping habits. Buy only if you require that product, not getting tempted by what is aesthetically pleasing to your eyes.
Waste management could be more effective if we were part of the circular economy – not every product is destined for waste, others may need it. Only by regulating our purchasing and throwaway decisions can we better manage our waste generation.
Moreover, at a time when there is already a lot of waste to deal with, we cannot rely on government agencies to work for us and ensure a waste-free environment. We need to decide how not to create more waste, which is a threat to our planet, and move towards sustainable living.
Read More: Carbon neutral lessons from Bhutan
How do you live a zero-waste life?
Follow these tips to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle:
- Say no to plastic products.
- Shop in bulk.
- Before disposing of a product, see if it can be recycled.
- Avoid products with hidden plastic.
- Composting bio-waste
- Plan zero-waste parties
- From kitchen to closet: minimize waste, procure as needed.
- Switch to biodegradable materials.
- DIY as much as you can.
- Reuse products already available.
What are the 5 R's of zero-waste living?
The 5 R’s as quoted by Bea Johnson "Refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, and reuse; or transform the rest."
Is it possible to live with zero waste?
No matter how hard you try, you will still end up producing a bit of waste. But remember, the only motive is to reduce the amount of waste you produce. Whatever product you decide to dump, look again and rethink if it can be reused or recycled before treating it as waste.
Zero-waste living books
Best recommendations for zero waste living books
- A Zero-Waste Life by Anita Vandyke
- Zero Waste: Simple Life Hacks to Drastically Reduce Your Trash by Shia Su
- 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg
- Zero-Waste Home by Bea Johns
Why is a zero-waste lifestyle important?
As per Statista, "by 2050, worldwide municipal solid waste generation is expected to have increased by roughly 70 percent to 3.4 billion metric tons". Not only is this waste getting accumulated in landfills, but it is also a major source of greenhouse emissions. Also, the non-biological component of this waste will further impact the ecosystem.
For a better and healthier future for this planet, it’s important that we shift to a low-waste lifestyle.
What are the three steps to living a zero-waste lifestyle?
You can achieve a zero-waste lifestyle with these three main steps:
- Before buying, reconsider if you need to buy a product.
- When buying, think of all the possible eco-friendly alternatives to your needs.
- Before dumping, decide if you can reuse or recycle a product.
What is zero-waste living?
If considered practically, a zero-waste lifestyle is all about adopting a conscious, minimal-waste lifestyle. You follow the 5 Rs of sustainability and give your best for a better future for this planet.