Have you ever caught yourself throwing away rotten food from your fridge? For example, a couple of somewhat moldy bell peppers you never ended up using? Or, half a liter of oat milk went bad because you forgot it was in your fridge. Or even a big portion of cauliflower you never ended up cooking, despite planning to?
Firstly, girl me too. Secondly, that seems to be a much bigger issue for us lately. Just piles on top of piles of week’s worth of groceries end up in the trash can, due to rot.
Furthermore, do you approximately have dozens of plastic containers in your kitchen? Many of which go unused or are simply stored away in some forgotten cupboard. Or are you simply prone to buy a lot of stuff you don’t really need, with the intention of throwing away all that is old and seemingly unusable anymore?
If you’ve ever thought about issues like these, whether it’s for the sake of the environment or wanting to save some cash and embrace low-waste living, the truth is this: a lot of us produce, well, a lot of garbage. Too much, in all honesty. But luckily for us, there are ways to indulge in living zero waste, (or a baby-step version of it), without feeling like you’re missing an item or two.
Allow me to explain how to start a zero-waste lifestyle and save some cash.
What is a Zero-Waste lifestyle?
It genuinely is what it sounds like, trying to waste, well, zero products an average household goes through. Whether that’s about the food we consume or don’t end up consuming in this case or the products we purchase – there are better and less wasteful ways to organize your household. That way, you can both save a lot of money, and sleep better at night knowing you are not contributing to the ruin of the environment.
Zero waste also practices and enforces the principles of recycling, rather than wasting. In other words, its focus is on the redesign of items in order for them to be reused. To this day, only 9% of plastic ends up being recycled. And since plastic itself is not biodegradable, that is a dangerously low number for such modern times.
I mean, have you ever taken a look at some of the garbage disposals in your city? Packed, and overflowing with things people didn’t need anymore. I think about it sometimes, especially living in a country that doesn’t have a processed and stable recycling regime. Serbia, one of the countries in Eastern Europe has made quite the headlines by showing videos of piles of garbage being thrown into rivers.
Since there is more garbage than people on this planet, each of us can contribute, at least give our minimum to make the least amount of change. Set an example, even.
How to start a Zero-waste lifestyle?
There are many zero-waste ideas and ways to start incorporating easy steps to create less waste. Now, you don’t have to do it perfectly, it’s okay to start slowly and work your way up to the top. You can even improvise and create your own ways of producing minimal waste based on your household and day-to-day life.
Here’s what you should start to think about:
- Reduce buying fast fashion
- Avoiding plastic packaging in the kitchen
- Rethink using single-use plastic
- Try reusing as many products as you can
- Get into recycling!
- Give your support to brands who endorse the zero-waste culture
- Try services that are carbon positive
- Seek products that either have no packaging, have reusable packaging (glass or paper, for example), or packaging that can be recycled (cardboard)
And that’s how to live a zero-waste lifestyle as a beginner wanting to do more good for the world.
What more can we do to live a Zero-waste life?
There are a lot of more specific things and zero waste tips we could do to further help the environment, and our bank accounts. If you’d calculate all the times you’ve ordered food in plastic containers and God knows what else, the digit would probably make you rethink some things.
Try minimizing Food Waste. This would involve more leftovers and better care of things we keep in the fridge, eliminating having to throw big portions out.
Try cutting down on plastic bags. You can try reusing non-plastic bags while grocery shopping, while also saving money by not buying new ones after every grocery run.
Multipurpose Cleaner. “In a spray bottle, combine 1⁄2 cup white distilled vinegar with 1 cup water, and add 10 to 20 drops of tea tree, lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus essential oil. Shake well before using.”
Bring lunch instead of buying it. Did you know that disposable lunches and utensils (traditional plastic utensils, etc) produce around 100 pounds of trash per individual on an annual level? “Bring your lunch in a reusable lunch box, and if your company doesn’t use compostable utensils.”
You can find a lot more ideas and tips via these zero waste books:
Why is a zero-waste life important?
Overconsumption is one of the biggest causes of climate change, meaning a cultural power move such as a zero-waste lifestyle was more than needed and necessary.
We consume fast fashion, food, products, and very finite resources without thinking twice about the planet we live on or the world we are leaving for our future generations.
Did you know that more than 140 billion items of clothing are produced each year? Or that general food waste is almost $600 per average household spent on food each year?
On the other hand, the very large beauty industry makes 120 billion bits worth of plastic wrap and packaging each year.
I understand these numbers seem too big and quite frankly overwhelming for the average person. And it probably seems unfixable from an average person’s point of view too. But I think that all of us can agree that the way the world is currently mass-producing waste is unsustainable and very harmful for everyone.
But on the flip side, Rome wasn’t built in a day, meaning you or me or anyone alone can’t possibly make that change until more examples have been set in stone. And again, it doesn’t have to be perfect, or at 100% all day every day. But small steps toward healthier changes genuinely can lower the above-mentioned numbers.
After making that conscious decision to stop contributing to the environment’s downfall, it’s much easier to rearrange your household and spending habits, with little to no craving for the latter.
Do we really have to shop at Zara? Do we really need tons of plastic bags in our cabinets? Or a box full of the makeup of which we roughly use 15%? I know that old habits die hard, but our earth shouldn’t have to die with them. We, especially as consumers, have a lot more power over the market’s demands in terms of products, so why not demand less and less, until we no longer need half the shit we used to overbuy but never use?
It starts with us, so be the example rather than a rebel.