Although effective, recycling programs won’t be enough to solve the waste crisis.
Namely, considering the lack of resources and recycling facilities, this method won’t make any significant difference in the near future. However, there is one approach that could help with the current situation — the zero-waste movement. In this article, we’ll explain what zero waste is and give you some guidelines on how to practice it in your day-to-day life.
What Is Zero Waste?
Zero waste is a principle that encourages the redesign of the product life-cycle in
order to avoid the disposal phase. In other words, it's about making sure everything you buy doesn't end up in the garbage.
As it stands today, there are two main ways to deal with trash:
● Recycling — which, as we’ve mentioned, is fairly limited in terms of
● Landfills or incineration — both of which leave resources unused and pollute
So, it seems that the only possible way to minimize our waste footprint is by
switching to a wasteless system. Therefore, the zero-waste movement is the ultimate solution, as it replaces the linear take-make-dispose model with a circular one that keeps resources in use for as long as possible.
Zero Waste Practices You Can Adopt Today
Zero Waste in Kitchen
While discussing the global waste crisis, most people forget a huge source of refuse — cooking and preparing food. Food accounts for 15% of total solid waste in the United States, which is why going zero-waste seems like the only viable solution to this problem. In addition, donating leftovers to a local shelter or regrowing vegetables from kitchen scraps are some of the methods you should consider using, instead of throwing food away.
However, if you want to get rid of food waste altogether, reusable containers are the way to go. Namely, using food containers for vegetables and meat as well as airtight containers for wet foods will prolong their shelf life by reducing the oxidation rate. Therefore, these storage methods combined with the practice of meal planning can reduce or completely eliminate food waste in your kitchen.
Finally, another problem every person living a zero-waste lifestyle runs into is food
packaging. Namely, most brands are reluctant to switch to recyclable or zero-waste packaging as these materials can be quite pricey. However, avoiding those brands can be hard in a regular convenience store. So, you might want to move your grocery shopping to a local farmers’ market or even make your own zero-waste garden.
Zero Waste in Bathroom
One way to reduce your overall waste output is by practicing zero waste in your
bathroom. Ideally, this means you produce no trash and avoid products made of
plastic. For example, when you purchase toilet paper, choose a brand that isn’t
packed in plastic wrapping. You can also buy soap bars instead of liquid soap or
refillable shampoo bottles instead of single-use tubes to reduce the amount of
packaging you have to deal with.
Other disposable bathroom products you can substitute for zero waste ones include:
● Cotton rounds
● Shower loofahs
Additionally, one of the major bathroom alterations every zero-waste house needs is a bidet attachment. Namely, aside from being the more hygienic way to clean
yourself, a bidet can reduce your toilet paper consumption by more than 75%.
Therefore, combined with one of the eco-friendly tp options, this device will help you achieve zero waste in your bathroom.
Zero Waste in Shopping
Your kitchen and bathroom habits are extremely important when you go zero-waste. However, this lifestyle mainly depends on your shopping habits. And although zero-waste stores already exist, they are few and far between.
Therefore, before you go out shopping for groceries or other necessities, you should ask yourself the following questions:
● Can I avoid packaged goods?
● Is the packaging reusable or recyclable?
● Do I need to own this product, or can I borrow it?
● Can I repair or resell this item?
● Can I buy this on eBay or Craigslist?
● Is there an eco-friendly version of this product?
Another important habit you need to develop is carrying a reusable bag to the store.
This simple change can significantly reduce the waste of plastic bags, which are
among the worst types of litter out there. And if you are always forgetting to bring a reusable bag with you, we suggest getting one for every purse or coat you have.
Alternatively, you can buy a shopping bag keychain or simply hang your bag next to your keys, so you don’t forget it.
Zero Waste in Restaurants and Coffee Shops
In recent years, some coffee shops and restaurants have made tremendous strides in terms of reducing waste output. However, most of them are still holding on to the traditional, wasteful way of doing business. But you don’t need to sacrifice your morning coffee or Saturday night dinner as long as you make a few alterations.
When you decide to drink your coffee in the coffee shop, always ask for a ceramic
mug. Most bartenders will be more than happy to make this switch and help you
reduce waste. However, if you are getting a takeaway coffee, you’ll need to provide your own to-go cup. Furthermore, whether you are staying in or taking away, don’t forget to ask for no straw.
A few of these changes can also be introduced to your restaurant experience. For
example, you can ask your waiter not to give you any paper napkins or other
disposable products. Also, when you are ordering take-out, specify that you don’t
need plastic cutlery and that you have your own food container. Finally, ask
restaurant staff to pack your leftovers (if there are any); otherwise, they will just throw them away.
The concept of zero waste is one of the best methods of solving the global waste
crisis. While the idea of a zero-waste society seems almost impossible at the
moment, if we all adopted some of the everyday practices we’ve mentioned, we
would be one step closer towards that goal.
Article prepared and supplied by Olivia Wilson @ Zero Waste.com