With the global plastic waste crisis it is becoming increasingly important to consider adopting a zero waste attitude. It may not be easy and will often appear a daunting prospect to manage a zero waste lifestyle. We have a few ideas to help you on your way without having to hire a personal lifestyle organizer.
Make a Plan
Make list of everything you throw away during a set period, logging things that go into the bin or simply clutter the house. This may be plastic, food waste or a whole range of unwanted items. Treat these items on a case by case basis and work out how to reduce or eliminate them. Set up a few ground rules and try and stick to them. Repeat the audit periodically to check on your progress.
Buy Loose Vegetables
Buying the correct quantity of loose items means you will always have fresh produce at home and none of it is wasted. It is becoming increasingly difficult to buy loose vegetables in a supermarket; packs are bagged in what are considered saleable portions. Although most of us tend to do a weekly shop in larger stores it would be nice to be able to pick up three or four carrots for part of a meal or just one apple for lunch. If your only option is to buy a 2kg bag of carrots that you have no possibility of eating before they wither and turn blue, split the pack into portions and freeze them.
Preparing your own meals using all fresh ingredients means you only use what you need. Processed and pre-packaged foods come with a wasteful wrapping of plastic that needs to be recycled or disposed of. If you cook too much or you lose your appetite, either freeze the leftovers or have it for tomorrow’s lunch. Shopping in local markets for fresh ingredients cuts out packaging and ensures your groceries are in good condition.
Don’t bin your green waste, create a compost heap. Kitchen waste in landfills has a huge environmental impact due to methane gas emission contributing to global warming. Compost all your scraps and peelings for use in the garden later and grow your own veg or cut-and-come again salads all summer. You can compost with a heap at the end of the garden or a simple home composter on the patio.
Banish Junk Mail
Speak to the post office and ask them to stop delivering unsolicited mail. Remove your details from any online mailing lists or ask to be contacted via email or their notification service. Contact your bank and any other financial institutions and request that you only receive statements online.
Zero Waste Sanitary Protection
Do your body and the planet a big favour by switching to renewable or compostable feminine hygiene products. Conventional tampons, towels and pads contain plastic fibre and layered inserts which do not biodegrade and cannot be recycled. Using modern alternatives made from sustainable material without harmful additives means we can manage menstruation responsibly. The Mooncup is a reusable menstrual cup that can be inserted during your period and washed afterwards without any waste. Tampons and pads are available which are produced from organic, biodegradable cotton which do not rely on microfibre linings and non-biodegradable absorbent gels.
Recycle Old Clothes
According to government statistics the average lifetime for a garment of clothing is estimated as 2.2 years. Extending the active life of clothing for another year will significantly reduce its environmental impact, avoiding the textile mass in landfills. Pass unwanted items on to friends, or even persuade your children to take up those older, potentially vintage, outfits lurking at the back of the wardrobe – good luck with that. If there aren’t any takers, then donate your outgrown clothes to charity shops and give them a new lease of life. They will take most items, even soiled and shredded garments which are sold on to be recycled as industrial wipes, carpets and even mattress stuffing. Take up sewing and reuse old material for your own designs.
Bring a Bottle
It makes so much sense to carry a bottle or a drinks canister when you are about and about. Fill up with fluids before you leave the house and top up with water, juice or coffee throughout the day. Bring it home at the end of the day, give it a rinse and you’re good to go again. Refusing a disposable cup in cafes passes on the message that single use containers are no longer acceptable.
Zero waste starts at home and if we don’t allow unnecessary items through the front door then we can stem the flow of unwanted disposables. With a few minor changes to our daily routine we can effortlessly adapt to a zero waste lifestyle.