What is ‘zero waste’? + my personal approach to this lifestyle

Recently I’ve written a blog post about the ultimate do-good list. A list about all the lifestyle changes everyone can try to make to make the world a better place. One of the lifestyles I included was the ‘zero waste lifestyle’. However, I realised that the zero waste lifestyle is not very well known as I hoped it would be. That’s why I decided to write about it.

Zero waste – meaning producing no waste at all – is about reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills and eventually the ocean. What’s bad about waste in the ocean? Most waste takes forever to decompose. Materials like plastic are used everyday globally and thrown away globally. These plastics get smaller once thrown away until they end up as micro plastics. Micro plastic gets ingested by fish which – unless you’re vegan – gets eaten by humans. Bon appétit.
Besides plastic sushi for dinner, plastic forms whole islands in the ocean. Our world is full of waste and everyone who doesn’t want to waste our planet should consider a zero waste lifestyle.

Now, I myself am not a Lauren Singer. In fact, living zero waste is one of my top goals in life (besides the obvious – career and relationship goals).
Zero waste means contributing no waste to the landfill. So first of all we analyse what we throw away: food packaging, food waste, old clothes, cosmetic packaging, coffee cups, water bottles, more packaging and even more packaging. You get there’s a theme here: packaging. You can also sort your waste by material: plastics, paper/ cardboard, organic waste, tins and metals, fabrics and other materials. Some of these waste materials can be recycled and recycling is encouraged.

The zero waste principle is about 5 guide lines, the 5 Rs:
Refuse – refuse single use items such as plastic straws
Reduce – reduce the amount of newly purchased items – don’t shop what you don’t need
Reuse – use the things you have as much and long as possible and always consider repairing instead of buying a new item, use reusable items instead of one-use ones
Recycle
Rot – food waste should be composted

When I think of zero waste my mind divides the waste problem in our everyday life in 3 areas: bathroom, kitchen and on the go.

We eat everyday and our food is *drumroll please* wrapped in packaging. Eating whole foods, buying unpackaged vegetables and fruits and buying grains, legumes and other dry foods in bulk (at special bulk stores) is the solution. Don’t order food online (I’m definitely guilty of that) and don’t buy packaged already-made food on the go. Food waste should be composted.
I did very well the past year when it comes to plastic-free food. However, since my move to another area, the availability of bulk stores and fruit and veggie markets (where unpackaged food is dominating) has been a challenge. I  do always choose the unpackaged fruits and vegetables and try to stock up on bulk dry goods, but there’s still a lot of plastic in my pantry and fridge. 

On the go and spontaneous situations is where lots of unnecessary waste is made. The solution: a zero waste survival kit. A mason jar/ reusable bottle, a reusable cutlery, a napkin, one or more reusable shopping bags, homemade and plastic free snacks and lots of discipline. I’m not doing the best when it comes to this part either. I carry reusable shopping bags with me and have a bottle with me most of the times but I always forget about ordering coffee in a reusable mug and forget to pack lunch and snacks for the day.

Lastly, you can reduce or completely eliminate plastic waste from your bathroom. Solid soaps instead of liquid, packaged ones, solid shampoos, solid conditioners or oils in glass bottles for your hair and body, homemade or plastic-free tooth paste, bamboo toothbrushes, plastic free deodorant, plastic free makeup, wooden hair brushes – the amount of product we use for our hygiene everyday is endless. Thanks to responsible and environmental conscious businesses, so is the amount of plastic free alternatives.
This is the only area where I can say that I’m proud of my progress. I’m still not 100% perfect but I’m consistent when it comes to the products I do choose to purchase plastic free.

There is so much more to zero waste, when put in practice. I encourage you to do more research about this amazing movement! Are you inspired to learn more about zero waste? Read more here:

http://www.gittemary.com

https://www.goingzerowaste.com

https://zerowastehome.com

 

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