We’ve all heard the term ‘zero waste’ being thrown around amongst many eco-activists and minimalists over our favourite social media channels and the whole idea may be overwhelming. Truth be told, they started from somewhere and I’m sure that successfully achieving a zero-waste lifestyle does not happen overnight. Millennial’s who have grasped the zero-waste concept effectively started from somewhere, this means anyone – you and I included – can do this too!
Admittedly, I have not yet managed to reach a complete zero-waste lifestyle – But, I do celebrate that I have definitely advanced from these 5 simple eco-living tips I published last year!
As most of the activities and choices I take on this journey towards a more sustainable and ethical lifestyle, I treat adopting zero-waste as a lifestyle and something habitual. Now, this means introducing a new habit and breaking old ones! It is said that to introduce a new habit (or get used to a situation) it would take anything from 21 to 66 days. This depends highly on daily consistent efforts, the mindset and behaviour of the individual.
C.S Lewis says, “You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending.” So don’t worry about the past and if you can or cannot do this. The truth is we are all on a journey, some just starting and others progressing.
You will initiate and implement daily small actions based on your mindset and willingness. You want to see a change around you. You want others to care for the environment. You want to change the future. I know you do!
Otherwise you wouldn’t be here! Having the right mindset for such task also means being mindful and conscious of our consumption of products.
So how can you and I change things? What does it take to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle?
Here is a 4-step mindset to begin the transition.
I like to use grocery shopping as the easiest topic to identify with but this can be applied in your life in general: from the way you travel, your beauty products, your household products and your wardrobe!
Planning ahead and anticipating the type of waste you might produce is the best way to avoid it altogether. Plan your grocery shopping. Prepare your shopping list and for each item think about whether it comes in packaging or not.
Can you find an alternative without packaging?
Do you have suitable Tupperware to pack it in?
Being such habitual creatures we would usually shop from the same place – more often than not – and so, anticipating this should be easier. Avoid last minute shopping! Do you find yourself buying things you did not intend on buying? I’d say you answered yes. Point made. Moreover, you would not be prepared with your grocery bags and other Tupperware. So plan ahead!
I have seen a drastic reduction in waste from the home when I started making my own soaps, scrubs and cleaning products! Later I started to explore the amazing benefits of essential oils – from aromatherapy to natural beauty and cleaning.
Reconsider or Refuse
Consider the packaging of the product. Is this re-useable, re-cycle, compostable?
What is the urgency of the product? No matter how well I plan my shopping (I usually go to the supermarket for specific items) I always seem to get either distracted by a product or I remember something else I needed to buy. Here it’s apt to consider ‘do I really need it now or can I get it next time when I have the appropriate bag/box for it?’
Check out this post for zero-waste shopping.
Collect the waste that you could not compost, re-use or recycle (of a week or if you’re really good of the month!) and spend some time to analyse it.
What could you have done without?
How much of it could have been re-used?
What alternatives are available to swap plastic or other single-use packaging?
What could I have done better to avoid this next time?
Set new goals
Celebrate your wins and fails. Choose a fail and set new goals. Research on what alternatives are available to you.
Naturally Hannah Top 10 Zero-Waste Ideas
- Buy your own water bottle. This way you avoid buying single-use plastic bottles and you keep yourself hydrated during the day.
- Invest in re-useable shopping bags. Opt for organic and bio-degradable textiles.
- Buy veggies directly from the farmer in your re-useable bag.
- Start composting. No garden or potted plants. Find your nearest farm. Turn your food waste into gold for the soil.
- Refuse plastic when grocery shopping. Take your own Tupperware, bread bags, veggie bags/baskets…
- Only buy packaged food that can be re-used. For example glass jars – I re-use them to store homemade sauces, body scrubs, other dried foods.
- Turn your used coffee grounds into easy to make body scrubs or add it to your compost.
- Install a drinking water filter or buy large water vessels that are re-used and collected by the supplier.
- Make your own household detergents.
- Make your own shower soaps and shampoo.