Ever wondered where your trash goes? Or even thought about how much trash you actually produce? If not, it’s time to start thinking about it. We live in a society of overconsumption, we don’t value our belongings. Over Shoot Day states that we need 1.5 Earths to keep up with our concuming habits. We don’t have 1.5 Earths!
Our non-recycled trash goes straight into a landfill left to… sit there forever. These landfills maintain toxins that get into our soil and in our water. A big part of our trash doesn’t even make it to the landfill and ends up in our oceans. It not only dangers the marine life, the plastics also break down to micro-plastics which end up in our drinking water.
The Zero-Waste lifestyle aims to – as the name suggests – produce as little waste as possible. This is done by getting rid of products you can only use once and invest in reusable items, recycle, compost, buying second-hand items and fixing your broken items rather than simply throwing them in the bin. Sounds a bit intense? Don’t worry! You don’t have to do all of these things in order to help the planet! You can start slow by making little changes in your life in order to save the planet (and save some money!). I interviewed Eli and Ana about their lifestyle towards zero waste to find out more about how we can help our planet!
Many of us, including myself, may think that a fully zero-waste lifestyle seems a little out of reach. Taking little steps in order to reduce waste is much more achievable. You don’t have to produce no waste at all in order to help the planet and your wallet, you can make little changes here and there to become part of the solution. Every little bit helps.
Elie from Elica in the World described Zero Waste as “Trying your best not to produce more waste than necessary. Just in being mindful of the things we purchase, we could probably significantly reduce the amount of waste as a whole, because little things here and there add up.”
Ana from I’m Finally A Unicorn looks at it in a similar way, “For me, zero waste is this: living life with intention. Being mindful about our only home, the Earth. Also being mindful about oneself but not in a selfish way, but in a “hey, let me not be a jerk” way.”
Where to start
You can’t go Zero Waste overnight, but you can start making little changes now! Make sure to check packaging to see if you can recycle it and recycle them correctly. Start taking shorter showers, ditch the plastic straws and try to donate to charity shops where possible.
Ana‘s journey into a lifestyle with less waste started when she became a minimalist: “Living through minimalism means that you don’t impulse-shop, which means you will create less trash by default. Yes, buying this is cool, but more often than not, all these things that you buy end up in the garbage sooner or later. I only buy what I need, and only if it’s something I’ll need always, otherwise if I only need something for the moment I try to borrow it from someone else.”
Elie said “I think my mindset was the most significant thing I had to change. In purchasing things, I would think twice about if there was another alternative. Being vegan, it’s easy for me to buy produce and fruits that aren’t packaged because I like cooking, and I take my own bags to the grocery store.”
Zero Waste Kit
Once the mindset change has been made, the real work starts! Are there any items that are essential to reducing waste in the long haul? Slowly replacing items with reusable items will help you reduce waste massively.
Reusable bottle / cup
Reusable straws (recommended by Ana)
Biodegradable bamboo toothbrush
Reusable chopsticks (recommended by Ana, she takes these everywhere instead of using plastic utensils)
Reusable cotton rounds for make-up removal (recommended by Elie)
Dryer Buddy to save energy while drying your clothes (recommended by Elie)
Reusable bag for groceries
Menstrual cup (recommended by Elie)
Elie also said “In the future I would like to have a composter in my backyard, but I currently live in an apartment without a yard”. This shows once again that you don’t have to be 100% zero waste to help our planet. Certain aspects of this lifestyle are harder to obtain in different living situations, but we should try to reduce waste where we can.
How To Maintain Waste Reduction
Making a start into reducing your waste is great, but how can you maintain this lifestyle?
Elie struggles with buying things at mainstream stores because everything is packages – mostly in plastic. For those who want to start reducing their waste, she says “I’d say just start thinking about the things you can replace as you use them up. I used all my disposable cotton rounds, but as soon as they were done, I purchased my reusable ones. Just take it one step at a time because replacing your disposable things with reusable things can get quite expensive up front, but is worth it (environmentally, financially) in the long run. Don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t feel guilty if you can’t do it 100%.”
Ana‘s tip for people who are new to this lifestyle, “Start slow. Don’t be hard on yourself but also don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to reach. Also know that this is a work in progress for all of us. You don’t “get there” from one day to the other. Creating your life is a process that never ends.”
Want more information and tips on how to recude waste? Check out the follow blogs, who have helped me massively!
Ready to start your zero-waste journey?
Where will you start?