The climate crisis is getting ever more urgent. A lot needs to be done by states and governments if we are to save the planet. However, there are also a few things we can do as individuals. In this blog post, we’ll look at zero waste living – a growing trend these days – and see how you, too, can reduce the amount of waste you produce to help save the planet.
Be a hero – Waste Zero
Pollution is one of the biggest villains when it comes to the environmental crisis the world is facing. It’s killing nature and bringing oceanic and earth-based animals to extinction. One major source of pollution is trash – especially plastic trash. And that’s where zero waste living enters the scene.
The philosophy and lifestyle of zero waste have been summarized by Zero Waste International Alliance:
“The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”Zero Waster International Alliance
What this concretely means is avoiding producing any waste and harming the environment and human health by recycling, reusing, and choosing your consumer habits mindfully. For example, if you have the option to buy tomatoes wrapped in plastic vs. unwrapped tomatoes where you bring your own reusable bag to carry them home, you pick the second option.
Of course, this isn’t something you do from one day to the other. It takes time to change one’s consumer habits. But it is worth the effort. You will not only have less of a negative impact on the environment, it also feels really good to throw out less plastic. I always feel proud when I’m able to avoid plastic or find an opportunity to reuse something. I recently began collecting my used coffee grounds to reuse them as fertilizer for my plants. It’s a little thing, but it all adds up.
The 5 R’s to Avoid Waste
One way to think about zero waste is to consider these 5 R’s:
- Refuse: Don’t buy stuff that is wrapped in stuff you will throw out.
- Reduce: Don’t buy more than you need.
- Reuse: Buy stuff that’s wrapped in reusable wrapping such as glass bottles.
- Recycle: Buy stuff that are fully recyclable, e.g. made out of or wrapped in paper.
- Rot: Buy stuff that are organic and can rot.
Following these principles will help you live a zero waste life. It does require some effort and a change of mindset, but it is possible and you’ll reduce your carbon and pollution footprint immensely as a result.
Here is a TEDx Talk about Lauren Singer’s journey towards her zero waste lifestyle. It’s full of tips on how to start yourself, so give it a watch!
What You Can Do
Zero waste living might seem like an impossible task when you look at how many things are unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. However, it all starts with one tiny step followed by another tiny step. Bit by bit, we can all make the change to more sustainable living.
Steps Towards a Zero Waste Life
There is a lot of things you can already start doing today in order to produce less trash. For one thing, recycling your stuff or reusing it for other things is a great way to throw out less stuff. Here are some concrete examples:
- buy fruit and vegetables from local farmers – these tend to be organic and not to be wrapped in plastic. It also means the world to these local farmers to be supported.
- get hold of reusable bags, bee wax cloths, and glass bottles to use for buying, transporting and storing foods and goods (maybe you already have something lying around that you can reuse 😉).
- make it yourself – a lot of wrapping can be avoided if you cook yourself or even make your own stuff. I make my own shampoo and hummus, for example, which are cheaper options than the store-bought ones, too.
- research what you can use your trash for. I was throwing away my old coffee grounds everyday, so I got curious and searched online for potential uses. There were tons of results!
- focus on experiences instead of stuff. If you want to treat yourself or someone to something nice, consider gifting them with an experience instead of more stuff.
We’ve been taught that we need stuff and that our current way of living is the best one. But many actually find a lot of meaning and joy in living sustainably, so why not give it a shot? You could try to live plastic-free for a week to see how it is, or go to a secondhand shop next time you need a new t-shirt. The possibilities are endless. You just need to start.
Are you ready, pirate?