Zero-Waste Living Tips!
Or how to cut down on the plastic you throw out.
Hey there fellow friend! Maybe you're here to find out a bit more about being zero waste, maybe you've already gotten the hang of it and are just looking for some small details you may be missing, maybe you're trying to convince yourself this movement is not for you, or maybe you've ventred out into the deep unknown of the internet.
But fear not! Whatever it is you're trying to achieve - whether it is feeling a bit lighter (literally!) whenever you come back from grocery shopping or having some fun reading about a movement you might've never heard of before - I got your back.
I've been fascinated by the zero-waste movement for a while now, but always felt so extremely intimidated by the idea of fitting all my non-recyable waste into a tiny jar. I'm sure we've all seen that photo/video/ad somewhere and perhaps were reluctant to find out more about the concept because of it.
It just seemed like it would be such a chore, an extreme lifestyle change, would require an immense amount of effort. And sure, it can, but IT DOESN'T HAVE TO!
You don't need to make sure all your waste fits into a jar. Okay? Okay.
So with all that settled, here are some things I do that make being zero-waste easier, can help the transition be a bit smoother. Bear in mind any change in your lifestyle is, well, a change in your lifestyle, and therefore might need a bit getting used to, but if you've already got your mindset shifted to a smaller trash bag, the rest comes much more naturally.
1. GET COTTON/REUSABLE BAG
A not so very fun fact - over 1 million plastic bags end up in the trash every MINUTE. How do they count this? No idea, but considering all the plastic bags covering fruit and veg in supermarkets, considering almost everything we get comes pre-packaged in a plastic wrap, the number should be no surprise.
Using reusable bags to get loose fruit and veg is a much more environmentally friendly alternative. They're becoming more and more popular, so you might just be lucky enough to find one in your local store/supermarket.
2. SHOPPING LOCALLY
Since we're at the topic of supermarkets - the idea in itself doesn't seem so bad, does it? You're able to pick up fresh produce, dairy, meat, ice cream, pantry essentials, snacks, sweets - all in one go.
But the sad truth is, chances are the majority of the items you see on supermarket shelves comes from abroad, and probably - very far abroad. Importing items from different country might be cheaper than producing them locally, but that doesn't mean it's better for the environemnt.
After all, you need a lot of CO2 to ship a box of onions from China to the UK. All while fresh, beautiful, locally-grown onions might be just around the corner.
Farm markets are a great place to check out when trying to reduce the amount of items you get from the supermarket and swtich to a less 'polluting' way of obtaining produce.
3. DON'T THROW OUT THINGS
Consumerism has taught us to buy new, new, new things every time our old, old, old things don't look so great anymore.
But the truth is, even if that mug doesn't look so stylish anymore and you can't seem to ever get it clean, maybe it could do as a plant pot. Or a flower vase. Or you could paint it over and store some miscallenous objects inside. There's plenty of ways to reuse household products that we think can only end up in a landfill.
Which brings me to...
4. BUY SECOND HAND & SELL STUFF YOU DON'T WANT
Not only is it better for your wallet, it's also so much better for the planet!
Instead of getting a new shit for 30 bucks, you could land yourself a deal and get it for 10. That's 20 in your pocket and a shirt spared from ending up in the landfill and releasing toxic gases into the atmosphere.
If you look around your area you can probably find a second-hand store where you can either sell or donate clothes, kitchenware, books, etc. And the internet is full of potential too - local sell/swap/buy Facebook groups and Facebook groups revolving around purchasing certain items (books, clothes) in your country or area are one of my favourite places to start. Local groups are definitely more ideal, since you don't need to ship an item across the country, but it's all still better than throwing it away!
5. MANAGING FOOD WASTE
Let's be real about one thing - wherever you come from, wherever you live, it is not wise to believe that everything that is labeled as 'widely recycled' and is thrown into the 'recycled' trashed is actually 'recycled'. I stopped believing that a while ago and while I do segregate and make sure any packaging I have ends up in the correct trash can, it is generally better to not have the packaging to throw out in the first place. But it's okay if you do. We're not perfect!
Once you've sorted our your recycled and non-recycled trash cans, it's time to move to food waste - something I have to admit to be still struggling with .
The most ideal solution is to have your own compost bin, where you throw out fruit and veg scraps and after a while it all becomes love compost that will boost plant growth in your garden.
All good and well, but what if you don't have a garden? A balcony in your flat? And don't want to tolerate very stinky smell?
There have been some works done on alternative compost bins, but they still seem to be quite expensive.
If you throw your food into 'general waste' it ends up in the landfill, where it does NOT decompose because of toxic condtions. It's pressed down by tons and tons of all sorts of rubbish that don't allow organic decomposition. Therefore, just like any non-decomposing rubbish out there, it releases methane, a very harmful greenhouse gas.
A more affordable way of dealing with food waste is managing it with your local waste management services, they perhaps could provide you with a special bin and take away your food waste every so often.
Or! (and that's what I've been trying to arrange) you can look around, ask around, or use the ShareWaste website to find people nearby who would be happy to accept your food waste for their own composts. Yay!
And with that cheerful conclusion, I finish my list of 5 zero-waste tips.
I hope you've managed to find some of them useful, and I hope you've been entertained and somewhat more convinced that maybe leading a zero-waste lifestyle is not as hard as it seems. If it does still seem hard, ignore the last point about food waste. I mean no, don't ignore it, it IS important, but I've found that working on all the things preceding it is much easier and more efficient, so maybe let's not overwhlem ourselves too much at once.
Have a lovely day,