Three Simple Rules to Reducing your waste.
What you can do to help the environment.
So you have heard of this zero waste movement and you are intrigued, but you don't really know where to start. There are so many conflicting opinions on different things that you should do. The number one thing to remember is that you don't have to be perfect, and no one ever will be, but trying and doing something is what matters. So here are some tips on different things you can do, big and small to reduce your impact on the environment.
The tips follow an old principle that was introduced to me as a child. These are the three R’s. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Reduce the amount that you buy
We are a consumer society, and we are told to consume all the time. But consuming new things all the time does terrible things for the planet. So the first step in reducing your impact is to take a look at what you buy and consume. Not changing anything but being aware of what waste you are creating with what you buy. Then take stock of what you are buying and what you are able to swap out into some sort of lower waste version. But this doesn’t mean that you need to go out and buy all the new zero waste gadgets and fads. Think about the things that you own in your own home that could help. For instance, you probably have some reasonable shopping bags, you don’t need to go out and buy more of these. The same goes for reusable coffee mugs, most people have one and don’t need to buy a second one. But something that you could switch to is a bamboo toothbrush after your current toothbrush wears out. SO be aware of when you should but something, and when you might already have something that does the job.
Also, I know that you aren’t all about to go vegan or anything like that, but remember that the food you eat, both packaging and food itself had to be produced. So while switching to a more eco-friendly packaging might be great, if what you are buying is beef it still has a major environmental impact. From foods that take tremendous volumes of water to produce, to foods that are causing parts of rainforests to be burn down to increase land to grow them, we all need to aware of the environmental impact that all that we consume has.
Reuse things as much as possible
So being able to use things multiple times not only means that you get more of your money’s worth out of it but that it also takes longer to land into a landfill. The simplest example of these is remembering to take those reusable bags to the grocery store. Put them somewhere you can’t forget them like your front doorknob, and whenever you leave the house you will see them there. Reusing also goes out as far and going to thrift shops looking for clothing and other things there. Buying something that is gently used means that no new material or resources were put into making it, and your personal environmental impact is relatively low. This doesn’t mean don’t buy new things, but this does mean think about the impact of the purchase. If you need fast fashion go to a thrift store, things change there all the time, and somethings, like a t-shirt, never go out of style. Also looking into DIY ways of reusing old things that you would throw out is also a good idea.
Recycle and compost what is left
When you have reduced what you are buying and the packaging that it comes in, as well as reusing things as many times and ways as possible, you then recycle. I understand that in many parts of the world there aren’t as robust recycling and compost systems as in others. But there are somethings that we can all do. The first is clean out recycling and be careful of what we put in it. Check on the website of who is doing your recycling and see what they accept and don’t and then print it out and put it on the box, this way you can’t forget. Mixing up what goes in the recycling is a good way of things not getting recycled. Second is food and compost. You can either use your city composter or if your city doesn’t have one and at home composter. Of which instructions can be found online. Or you can save specific vegetable food scraps and use them to make a vegetable stock before you compost them. The bottom line is compost what food you can. Also donating your close is a much better option than throwing them out unless they are full of holes. Then you can find a place that does clothing recycling instead and help prevent clothing from ending up in the landfills. There is usually some way of preventing something from going to a landfill, so try and figure out what that is.
Be aware of what goes in the garbage.
The final tip that doesn’t follow the R’s is look at what does end up in your garbage. Take stock every time you take it out. What are the main things that are there? Could you find an alternative to those? Just some questions to ask yourself as you start swapping out some things.
Also, remember that this is a process and no one is perfect no matter what you read. There are alternatives to most things, but not all. So think through what you use on a daily basis and weekly and monthly basis. What can you swap out, or even cut out of what you are doing? And remember that even if you only change one or two things, that can still make an impact on the planet and climate change.