The zero-waste lifestyle
Updated: Dec 4, 2019
An average person generates over 4.4 pounds of waste per person per day. In this world of growing consumerism, it can be difficult to control the waste you produce. However, there is a growing community of people who have mastered or are slowly moving towards the Zero Waste Lifestyle, one step at a time.
One such person that truly inspired me recently while watching TEDx is Bea Johnson, a resident of California. Bea lives with her husband and two kids and has been living a Zero Waste Lifestyle for the past decade. You would think she must be leading a fairly different lifestyle, but she is just like any one of us. A normal person with a family, a job, and some hobbies.
However, what’ important to note is that, all her family’s waste currently sits in a jar this size.
Surprising isn’t it? What does it contain – well, it contains some plastic labels, some stickers, electrical tape, an empty pen refill, silica gel packets – you get the idea (things she couldn’t really get rid of!)
So, how does she manage this Zero Waste Lifestyle? The zero in ‘zero waste’ makes it sound scary and hard to achieve. It is actually not hard, and is as simple as following her Five R recipe, in this specific order
Refuse what you don’t need
Reduce what you do need.
Reuse by using reusables.
Recycle when you cannot do the above 3
Rot the rest.
That’s a lot of R’s, let me break this down for you…
Refuse – just say no
Say no to freebies from conferences, fairs, and parties. Every time you take one, you create a demand to make more. Do you really need another ‘free’ pen or a T shirt?
Say no to single use plastics – for example plastic fork, plastic glass, and plastic plates.
Say no to junk mail. It’s not just a waste of resources, but also of time. Register to receive less.
Reduce what you do need
Reduce the stuff in your home, and donate to your local thrift shop. That way you’ll lighten your load and make precious resources available to those looking to buy second-hand. When you have fewer things, you tend to take better care of them!
Reduce your shopping trips and keep a shopping list. Try not to buy packaged goods. The less you bring home, the less waste you’ll have to deal with.
Swap disposables for reusable. For example – start using handkerchiefs, refillable bottles, shopping totes, cloth napkins, etc.
Avoid grocery shopping waste: Bring reusable totes, cloth bags, and jars to the store and farmers market.
Know your city’s recycling policies and locations—but think of recycling as a last resort. Have you refused, reduced, or reused first? Question the need and life-cycle of your purchases.
Buy primarily in bulk or second hand, but if you must buy new, choose glass, metal, or cardboard. Avoid plastic.
Find a compost system that works for your home and get to know what it will digest. Turn your home kitchen trash can into one large compost bin.
The above mentioned points, the five R recipe are merely tools and guidelines to make you aware of the waste you generate. You can choose to try as little or as much as you like. The idea here is to become aware and monitor what you toss in the trash, because anything you monitor is bound to improve.
Imagine the benefits of this life style: You save money, have less stuff to manage, eat better, feel better, and have all the time in the world to collect moments, not things!
So, my fellow readers, my question to you is – what will you not toss in the trash today?