An Achievable New Year’s Resolution?
Take a moment to think about how much rubbish you have accumulated over the last week. With it being Christmas I would imagine much more than usual. Do you have a large dustbin that sits outside waiting to be emptied each week? Is that even enough to handle the trash that you throw out or do you have additional bags pileup next to it?
Could you imagine changing your family into one that lives a zero waste lifestyle?
In the last 100 years humans have produced more waste than in the rest of humankind before us. Is it possible to turn our situation around as fast?
When you throw your trash ‘away’….where does it even go?
Let’s Pretend It’s Not Here
Conventional means of dealing with household waste have invariably involved methods of trying to hide the rubbish, or make it disappear somehow. Digging massive holes into the Earth and dumping mounds of junk into it. Incinerating piles of garbage to vanish into thin air. We know that is not the whole story.
Landfills slowly pollute the soil with chemicals and contaminants that leach into the ground. This in turn makes it’s way to our crops and of course the water supply. Incinerating trash pumps noxious gases into our atmosphere, the air that we breathe and also finds it’s way to the water that we rely on.
Refuse does not simply disappear and trying to bury our heads in the sand by hiding it from our sight will not change the mounting problem.
What is Zero Waste?
Zero waste is more than a strategy to drastically reduce the amount of things that we discard. It is also a philosophy to live by, a new goal for life. It is looking at the issue of waste and addressing it from it’s very source.
Waste is a sign of inefficiency, it is a manufacturing mistake and we have the power to eradicate it entirely if we change the way we look at the products that we consume. Start to consider items with the end result in mind. Can it be Re-used? Repaired? Recycled? Composted? If the answer to all of these is no, then simply do not buy it!
If you come across something that does not fall into one of these categories then write to the manufacturer. The solution starts with them.
Where to Start
Change your shopping habits and start to think small. Look for local produce that is available at farm markets and other similar outlets. Consider buying products in bulk and always take your own containers so that you can buy with no packaging. Cereals, pasta, oil, honey and soap are amongst the many things that you can conveniently purchase to take home in your own jars and containers, using up every remnant to leave zero waste!
Always travel with your own reusable bags, avoiding plastic wherever you can. Plastic is never completely recyclable as components are always left over, not to mention the process of recycling it, which releases poisonous gases.
Opt for glass and stainless steel wherever possible for hygienic, environmentally friendly, long lasting container options.
Make Your Own
If you cannot find products with zero packaging why not consider making your own! The internet is full of tutorials to make your own toiletries, including toothpaste, deodorant and hair products. We will be sharing some on here in the coming weeks too. You will find that you save money, plus your skin will be very grateful for the break from chemically packed store bought cosmetics.
It has been estimated that around one third of household waste is compostable, so this is a great way to make a difference and keep your bin empty! Food scraps, cardboard and paper towels can all be composted and create wonderful nutrient rich mulch for your garden. If you do not have space to compost your own food waste look around for a communal one that you can use.
On your bike
Try to use an alternative to your car whenever possible. Using a bike or walking are great choices that also boost your fitness. If that is not convenient then opt for public transport or join a car co-op to reduce your family’s waste even while you are out and about.
There are small and simple ways to take your zero waste philosophy with you while you are not at home. The first one is to refuse any straws and other plastic bits and pieces that adorn your drinks. These tiny tubes of plastic are contributing to tonnes of waste each year. If you really miss the feeling of using a straw then purchase your own reusable one. They are available in glass, bamboo or metal.
Secondly avoid the disposable take-out containers. Take your own glass containers to collect any leftover food, as styrofoam is very undesirable and you don’t want to end up contributing to the landfill this way.
There are so many great quality used products on sale at yard sales, auction sites and thrift stores. Save money as well as the environment by looking for second hand items rather than always buying new. The World is filled with a constant stream of brand new bikes, televisions, clothes, shoes and other ‘fast moving consumer goods’. People move onto the next new thing while there is still plenty of life left in the item that is to be replaced by the newer model. Do not contribute to this endless conveyer belt!
Once you start to change your mindset you will see that it is quite simple to live a zero waste lifestyle. It starts from your decision to accept a gift into your home or to buy something that is not necessary. A zero waste home is a home filled with wonderful, long lasting, environmentally thoughtful and useful items. You will save money and find joy in a simpler way of living. Give it a go! We would love to hear how you get on.
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