Have you ever thought about moving to a zero waste lifestyle? What is holding you back from starting? If you just don’t know where to begin then my 5 Tips to Starting your Zero Waste Lifestyle should help you.
When people start to think about a zero waste lifestyle, most people are overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin. Their first thought is, ‘How am I ever going to reduce my waste to nothing?’. Well STOP! You do not need no waste at all, you are not trying to aim for perfection but to reduce the amount of waste in your life by making better choices. The more choices you make that help you to reduce the amount of waste you create will move you towards your goal of zero waste. This will not only benefit you, but also the health and well-being of the planet.
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1. Know Your Goal
The first step on your path to zero waste is to know why you want to go there. What is it about a zero wast lifestyle that appels? What is your goal and why do you have it?
Are you choosing a zero waste lifestyle because it is good for the environment; because it can help stop climate change? Do you want to help conserve the earth’s resources and help minimise pollution? Or is there another reason such as; wanting to build a local community project to focus on redistributing goods to those in need. Maybe you want to redistribute leftover food to those in need or reuse old furniture in housing shelters.
Your ‘Why’ could be anything as long as you are clear on what it is that is driving you. Make sure you thought about what you want to achieve and what you are aiming for. If you are not clear on how you will reduce your waste and what you own personal goal is then you will never get there.
Goals do not have to be large. Your lifestyle may not enable you to fully commit to going towards zero waste but you have to work out what is right for you. We can not save the world in a day! Your goal could just be to no longer use disposable coffee cups but think how much of a difference this could make if you have several cups of coffee a day.
Write your goal down and stick to it. Stick it on the fridge, in your handbag or on the bin. Make it visible.
2. Eliminate Single Use Items
The next step is to start to eliminate single use items from your life.
Think about when you go out and when you are handed items whether you really need them. You can say ‘NO’. Do you really need that flyer that someone is giving you?
Think about each item you buy and ask yourself:
- ‘Do I really need this?’
- ‘Is it necessary?’
- ‘Do I already have something I can use?’
We all know how easy it is for us to buy unnecessary items that then just sit in the cupboard and don’t get used. As a society, we need to move away from being disposable and move back to when we treasured what we had.
A list of easy swaps can be found here.
3. Review and Reuse what You Already Own
Look at what you already own. Do you need to go out and buy new items for storing food or have you got old glass jars that can be used for freezing or keeping dry food in? Could you resurrect those old sewing skills and turn an old shirt into a bag or some hankies? What about turning old T-shirts into yarn for knitting and crochet? See my blog post on how to turn a T-shirt into yarn.
Instead of going out and buying a new phone or other device if yours has stopped working can you get yours fixed? There are hundreds of little repair centers that you can take phones and laptops and even your vacuum to for repairs. Electronic devices contain many rare metals that are getting rarer by the day such as indium and copper, we need to ensure that these precious resources don’t just go to landfill and are recycled appropriately.
If you are getting bored with your old clothes or maybe you have changed sizes, there are lots of options available rather than just going out and buying new clothes. You could:
- Have a clothes swap with a friend;
- Find a seamstress who could do some alterations to make your old clothes fit you to perfection;
- Hold a clothes swap party in the local village hall;
- Pop to your local charity shop.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and I would always love to hear your ideas on how to reuse your old items in your house. Look out for further blog posts on this topic.
4. Compost/ Food waste
So many of us are so wasteful when it comes to food, me included at times. We go to the supermarket and buy far too much and just don’t eat everything in time. People are obsessed with sell by dates and others if they see a tiny black spot on a piece of veg that means they will not eat it and in the bin it goes. I am of the other opinion and am happy to cut off the yucky looking bits on fruit and veg, cook with the healthy looking part and then put the rest on the compost heap. I hate to see food going to waste.
If however, you have some food you have already cooked just look at it one more time. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Can it be eaten today?
- Will it last until tomorrow and do for breakfast?
- Can I use it to form the basis of a stew?
- Could it be frozen for another day?
- Would my pets eat it for their dinner?
- or is it really time for it to go on the compost heap or in the bin?
Always have a second look before you make the ultimate decision to throw something away.
One way to try and reduce your food waste is to start writing a meal plan each week and to only buy the items that you need to make those meals. Try not to go to the supermarket when you are hungry as you will undoubtedly buy items that you don’t need as those chemicals going round your body take over from your brain and check the fridge before you go shopping!
You can even compost your reusable cotton washcloths and shower puffs that you might have bought as one of your single use plastic swaps.
We all need to make better decisions and every one we make helps us reduce our waste just a little bit more. Which in turn helps us move towards our goal of reducing our waste production.
Finally we get to recycling this is where we are as the last resort. You can’t reuse, compost, up-cycle or think of anything else to do with your items they really do have to be disposed of in some other way.
There are so many ways to recycle these days. In the UK most councils have home recycling and then there are the local recycling facilities and the specialist facilities. We can all do our bit to recycle in some way.
Recycling is so important as not only does it help preserve the world’s existing resources but it reduces the number of fossil fuels we use to make these items.
Did you know?
- Paper can be recycled approximately 7 times before the paper fibers become too damaged to be used again in paper.
- Once paper fibers are too damaged to be used in paper they are then be used in packaging like egg cartons?
- It takes 95% less energy to make an aluminium can from recycled aluminium than from the raw materials.
Have you looked through your house to see what else you can recycle? Have you got an old computer laying around somewhere that you no longer use? What about that old phone? Then there are the hundreds of cables in our houses that we no longer use that are full of copper. These can all be taken to your local council recycling center in the UK.
Check out your local recycling options here with recyclenow. They have a wealth of knowledge on how and what to do with your items to be recycled.
If you are ever in doubt as to whether something can be recycled then contact your local council who will be able to point you in the right direction.
Zero Waste in Summary
You should now be ready to start your way towards your zero waste lifestyle. Don’t forget that you will never reach perfection and that you will need to strike a balance with what you have and the lifestyle that you lead. Every choice you make that reduces the amount of waste you create makes a difference.
Remember, it is sometimes better to find contentment in what you are doing rather than to spend on material things in life.
Just think about what you are doing and do the best you can. If we all do that then it will make a difference.
Should you wish to learn more about a zero waste lifestyle there is a good book written by Kathryn Kellogg.
This is just the first of many blog posts that I will be writing on zero waste and how we can all move towards incorporating this philosophy into our lives. Keep checking back as you will find more posts and links to interesting articles on my website.
Thanks for reading and I would love to hear your thoughts and what you are doing to live waste free.