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What is a Zero-waste Lifestyle?

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Have you heard about zero-waste lifestyle lately? Are you curious about what a zero-waste lifestyle really sums up to? Well, you just made it to the right place to get all your questions answered...

To start with, in simple words, A zero waste lifestyle (also sometimes referred to as a low waste lifestyle) is a way of life that aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. The goal here is to avoid sending trash to landfills, incinerators, oceans, or any other part of the environment.

We all know everyone has the power to create less waste, but the idea can often seem overwhelming and mostly impossible!

So, the right approach to simplify this is to take small steps to reach the bigger goal. As you must have heard, it's more about enjoying the journey and not reaching the destination. The transition to a zero waste lifestyle will take time and that’s perfectly ok! We're here to help you along the way and let's focus on the progress, not perfection!

You must be wondering, how does one achieve a zero-waste lifestyle?

Well, lets start with the basics, Here are some ways to achieve a zero waste lifestyle:

  • Reduce your needs

  • Reuse as much as possible

  • Recycle or compost what you cannot reuse

  • Choose products with minimal packaging

  • Refuse packaging and single-use items whenever possible

  • Properly dispose of waste to ensure it gets recycled or composted

As you read the above, you can realise that there are five basic rules of zero waste:

Refuse - Learn How to Say No & Mean It: Waste is often created when we start buying things that we don't really need. The first step to a zero-waste lifestyle is to refuse what you don't need. This means, saying no to anything you don't really need, even if it's free. Examples: refuse free pens from conventions, refuse plastic straws and utensils from restaurants, refuse plastic bags from the grocery store, and refuse as much (or all) single-use plastic as possible.

Reduce - Learn to Let Go: Reduce is all about having a good clear out. This involves the principal of the less you consume, the less that is produced. We often times see our cupboards filled up with things that we don't really use, it's time to give it to someone who can put them to better use. There is another angle to reducing. It means shopping with a purpose and only buying what you need rather than giving into random splurges. When you head to the store, don't allow yourself to get sucked in to the trap of Hyper-consumerism.

Reuse - Make Sure Things Last as Long as They Can: As life has grown fast, convenience has become the norm, making us a more of a throw away Society. As soon as something new comes along, we are only too willing to trade our old models in for newer ones. Top of that, many things are made to have a short lifespan and we are forced to replace them. With a little consciousness, we can make it a habit to repair, mend or patch-up things to extend their usage.

Reusing also refers to using reusable items rather than disposables. In fact, to be honest, for almost every single use item there is a reusable alternative available.

Recycle - For Those Things You Can't Refuse, Reduce Or Reuse: Recycle only as a last resort and always try to implement the first 3 Rs first. As many people are starting to realize, recycling is a highly energy intensive process that isn’t completely effective in most cases. Many recyclables end up being downcycled into low quality disposable goods that eventually end up in the landfills, or even worse, they end up in the oceans. So remember that recycling isn’t the answer to the zero waste lifestyle. Refusing, reducing, and reusing will help you be more successful on your zero waste journey and will benefit our planet more.

Rot - What's Left: The Ultimate step in the 5R's of Zero-waste living is to ROT, in other words, COMPOST.

Rotting is essentially the recycling of organic materials – nature’s way of recycling. Did you know, one-third of household waste is organic materials, such as food waste. So it makes a lot of sense to compost at home to divert the food waste from landfills where the waste will not properly decompose and will contribute to air and soil pollution. The organic matter doesn't have time to breakdown because landfills aren't aerated. This releases the Methane Gas into the atmosphere thereby hastening climate related issues.

Now you know what the 5R's are you can make better choices. Remember that they go in order. Refusing and Reducing means you are bringing less into your home. Reusing means you are keeping new things from being made and old things from being wasted. Practicing the first 3R's will automatically have less stuff to Recycle and Rot.

So Why Should we all really do this? According to Ocean Conservancy, “Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.”

The zero waste lifestyle can reduce our harmful impact on our ecosystem, encouraging sustainable living, biodiversity, and a healthy, productive balance of organisms.

In case you are wondering where to find the alternatives for your family, we have got you covered here too. You can start by checking the alternative available here.

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