4 Minutes
mar 12, 2021

Getting Started with Zero Waste Living

The Zero Waste International Alliance defines zero waste as “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.”

It’s a trend that’s been growing in popularity in recent years. But what does “zero” waste really mean? And how can you start to reduce the waste in your life today?

Why it matters

Overconsumption is a massive problem for so many of us, as throwing things away has become second nature. This overconsumption is harmful to our planet as it depletes finite resources and both production and disposal lead to greenhouse gas emissions.

Globally, we generated around 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (essentially anything that isn’t sewerage or construction debris) in 2016. Of this waste, only 19% was recovered through recycling and composting. Instead, the majority of our waste is disposed of in landfill, openly dumped, or incinerated. The amount of waste we generate is predicted to grow by 70% over the next 30 years unless we make some serious changes.

A circular economy

When talking about zero waste, you might hear people refer to a “circular economy”. A circular economy is a regenerative approach to economic development, which aims to “design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems.”

Essentially, creating new and unnecessary products from finite resources isn’t working for our environment. When you find a need for something in your life, think about “refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle” before opting for a brand new purchase. Recycling should be your last resort, as it’s still harmful to our environment, and most recycling is done in developing nations where they then have to suffer the consequences of our consumption.

Where to start with zero waste

The two main areas of your life that generate a high amount of waste are in the kitchen and the bathroom.

Kitchen

Here are our tips for reducing your kitchen waste:

  • Invest in reusable alternatives. If you’re still using single-use Ziploc bags and plastic wrap, it’s time to swap to reusable containers and beeswax wrap. Remember to finish using any single-use products that you have on hand before making the switch.
  • If you struggle with food waste, try meal planning so you only buy exactly what you need. Even if you live in an apartment or small space, you can also start composting by collecting your food scraps then adding them to a local community compost hub (research if there’s one in your area).
  • Shop at a bulk food store. Again, you’ll need to research if this is available where you live, but many places now have bulk stores that sell grains, nuts, legumes, and even beauty and cleaning products in bulk. You can fill up a paper bag or bring your own reusable containers to fill.
  • In line with this, when you go shopping or out to eat, make sure to bring your reusables with you. This includes things like reusable produce bags and your own cutlery, container, and cup if you’re buying takeaway. Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to invest in expensive name-brand reusables, instead, you can use what you have at home like old glass jars or try making your own produce bags out of scrap material.

Bathroom

Here are our tips for reducing your bathroom waste:

  • Cutting down on waste in your bathroom is all about switching from disposable to reusable as well. Try a metal safety razor (you just have to replace the blades, which can be recycled at the end of their life), reusable menstrual cup, and cloth towels instead of single use wipes. You can also opt for materials that are better for our environment, like compostable silk dental floss and bamboo toothbrushes.
  • In terms of beauty and cleaning products, there’s a lot you can make yourself using simple household ingredients instead of buying brand new products that usually come in plastic packaging. These days, you can find recipes for DIY shampoo, cleaning spray, and even washing machine tablets.

We hope that this gives you a brief introduction to the concept of zero waste living and that you’ll implement some of these easy tips into your daily life. And remember, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

Amber Hall

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