“Refuse what you do not need, reduce what you do need, reuse what you consume, recycle what you cannot refuse, and compost the rest.”
– Bea Johnson (Author of “Zero Waste Home”)
“Zero-waste” has become the new buzz term in eco-conscious circles. A “zero-waste” lifestyle involves being conscious of your consumption habits and producing minimal unnecessary waste, in pursuit of reducing your environmental impact. It is often regarded as being too time-consuming, too expensive and too restrictive, but moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle is much easier than you’d think. We provide you with the truth behind the myths and suggest some tips for moving towards a truly eco-conscious lifestyle.
- Myth One: Zero-waste means you can’t produce any waste
Truth: If you are following the tenants of a zero-waste lifestyle, but still producing some waste, it does not mean you are doing it wrong! Don’t get stuck on the word “zero”. The term “zero waste” is actually an industrial term that is used to refer to a circular economy that designs products that don’t produce waste as an end product. You do not have to cut out all waste from the get-go and you are allowed to take your zero-waste journey one step at a time. The main aim of the zero-waste movement is to encourage people to rethink their waste, cut down on the waste they produce, and become more mindful consumers. Our consumer culture is based on creating items that are disposable and can be repurchased. So, by making small changes to your consumption patterns, and waste production, means you are on the right track!
A great way to kick-off your zero-waste journey is by doing a waste audit. Keep track of the waste you produce for a week and take note of what items you throw away the most. This will help you understand where you generate the most waste, and what items you can begin to eliminate. Cutting out single-use items is the best way to start.
- Buy loose fruit and veg as much as possible
- Make use of reusable shopping bags and produce bags
- Carry a reusable water bottle and coffee cup
- Insist on “no straw” when you order a drink
- Start composting your organic kitchen waste
- Myth Two: Zero-waste is expensive
Truth: Not true! In fact, most of the time you will be saving money. Going zero-waste is about using what you do have, first and foremost, for as long as you possibly can. When you can no longer use what you have, it’s about finding a sustainable alternative. A lot of eco-friendly swaps are very inexpensive, as long as you are willing to get creative. If you are investing in a more expensive eco-friendly alternative, it will probably last for a while, which means you will be saving money in the long run anyway.
- Reuse glass jars as storage containers
- Cook at home instead of ordering takeaway
- Mend and tailor your garments, instead of tossing them out
- If you do need to buy, try to buy second-hand
- Use old material scraps as cleaning cloths
- Myth Three: Zero-waste is time-consuming
Truth: The main ethos of zero-waste living is learning to simplify your lifestyle and reduce the items that you think you need. When you simplify your life, you spend less time making choices about the things you have. Using less, and consuming more mindfully, means that you reduce the amount of time spent grocery shopping, deliberating what clothes to wear and what skincare to use. You’ll soon realise that you have more time, more money, and you get to realise that there is so much joy in learning to live with less.
- Learn to embrace outfit repeating
- Buy in bulk wherever you can
- Only buy what is necessary or what you really love
- Buy reusable items, so that you don’t have to buy disposable ones as often
- Simplify your skincare regime
When we evaluate the things in our life, we begin to realise that there is so much that we don’t need. Going “zero-waste” doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. More than anything, it requires us to change our consumption mindsets. We need to stop thinking “disposable” and start thinking “sustainable”. Keep an open mind to the alternatives and give yourself some time to get used to them. We should all be able to incorporate principles of zero-waste living into our lives in whatever small ways we can. If you are looking for some further inspiration, take a look at the tips below.
- Make your own cleaning products
- Grow your own herbs and veggies
- Use beeswax lunch wrap as an alternative to cling film
- Make use of fabric napkins
- Try silicone stasher bags instead of plastic zip-lock ones
- Make your own body products
- Opt for toiletries with minimal packaging (such as soap bars)
- Invest in a reusable safety razor
- Consider using a menstrual cup and/or reusable pads
- Use earbuds that are made of cotton or bamboo
- Take out books from the library
- Buy second-hand furniture
- Use bedding made from natural fibers
- Opt for indoor plants as natural air-fresheners
- Move towards a capsule wardrobe