I'm sure you all have heard of Greta Thunberg and her global initiative #Fridaysforfuture. In short, the aim is to try to save the planet from its self-destruction. Not an easy task I know, but what if we all could try and do something to help? The first step to take is to actually try and turn our home into an (almost) zero-waste home?
What does Zero-Waste mean?
I came close to the zero-waste movement and the no-plastic lifestyle after I found myself swimming in a plastic ocean in Samoa. It was disgusting. And sad. I later cryied on that gorgeous beach when I realised it truly was a natural disaster. As I swam, my arms and legs were covered in plastic bags and then I hit cans, plastic bottles and all sort of terrible waste. Swimming there wasn't a pleasure and it was even worst because Samoa has some of the most gorgeous beaches I've ever seen in my whole life!
Living a zero-waste life isn't easy and it won't definitely happen overnight. It's a (long) process and the hardest part is to switch your thinking. At its core, the zero-waste movement aims to reduce the creation of waste. The ultimate goal of zero waste living is to keep the matter out of landfills and
moving to a new house can be the perfect moment to change habits and switch to zero-waste living.
Step 1 - How much trash do you make?
Assessing your current trash is the best way to understand what you are throwing away and what you should cut down immediately. Is it a single portion pre-packaged meal? Or is it single-use items like straws, plastic forks and others? A lot of paper? Food waste?
Step 2 - Learn how to recycle things
I was surprised to realise that plastic forks are not entirely made of plastic, therefore, they can't be recycled with plastic. This is something you should stop buying right now. Watch tutorials and read online to properly learn how and what to recycle and put it into practice from today. Recycle whatever and whenever you can. Also when you are out of your home. Learn how to compost too, if possible.
Step 3 - Replace non-reusable items
Now, I know you might be excited with your brand new home and you feel it's time for a fresh start. But I’d recommend purchasing zero waste alternatives only when your non-zero waste items are finished. Because throwing it out something unused is a pity as well as a waste. If you have plastic glasses, use and recycle them. Don't just throw them away unused.
Step 4 - Use less of everything
Since I've started this life-changing process, I use very little dish soap, laundry detergent, body soap etc. When you realise that most products are actually designed to encourage you to use more than you actually need, you'll also feel a bit ripped off. Or at least this is how I first felt when I realised that. Also, don't buy any new clothes for a year/month/week depending on your shopping habits. Are you really sure you need another shirt/dress/pair of shoes? Probably not. Put the money you would have spent in a jar for a nice trip you want to take or something else you'd like to do.
Step 5 - Switch to solid
Without having to drastically change every single routine, you can easily reduce the amount of plastic in your daily life. For example, in your bathroom, you can switch to bar soap instead of liquid soap stored in plastic containers. The first last much longer and guess what? As a consequence, you are going to save money! YAY! If you feel like, you can even learn how to make your own homemade soap and shampoo bars and maybe give some to your friends so that they also become aware about this topic. Regarding, home cleaning products, you can start making your own at home. Apple cider, white vinegar, citrus and baking soda all work amanzigly well to clean your home, while allowing you to avoid dangerous and useless chemicals.
Step 6 - No more plastic bags & bottles
Each year, about 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide, Yes, that's not a typo: it's really ONE TRILLION.
This is something you can (must!) do from today. Switch to reusable bags immediately. Really. Plastic bags along with plastic bottles cause the biggest damage to our planet, but replacing them in your life is the easiest thing. I never leave the home without my own tote bag (you never know when you might need it) and my refillable bottle. So, from today, learn to say NO to that plastic bags at the supermarket and say Goodbye to plastic water bottles and invest in a reusable bottle, carry it with you everywhere and never ever spend a penny on the water anymore.
Step 7 - Switch to Zero-Waste Feminine Care Products
Girl, did you know that tampons and pads are loaded with chemicals and pesticides? Plus it's basically impossible to get rid them. It's now time to switch to menstrual cups over conventional pads and tampons. It can be hard at first, but I've been using one since 2012 and not only I've saved approximately £1000, but I've also protected my health in the meantime.
Step 8 - Reduce food waste
Since I was little, I grew up with the idea that wasting food was a shameful waste. So, I have this stuck in my mind. However, growing up and living on my own I had to adopt this thinking not only about what was on my plate but especially to what and how much I was going to buy. Nowadays, I plan my meals in advance and buy food accordingly. Not everyone needs to do this - I am a bit OCD about certain topics - but you can definitely avoid buying huge packs just because they are on sale or simply cook and freeze vegetables instead of letting them rot in your fridge.
If you live in London for example, there is this incredible app to reduce food waste called Too Good To Go, which aims to let everyone do their bit to reduce waste, while also getting delicious food and supporting local businesses. Basically, you find a store and place your order, then you go and collect your meal. This is what I call a real WIN-WIN solution: you save money and eat delicious food, the planet gets less food waste on it. How wonderful!
Step 9 - Cook at home
If you recently moved in with your boy/girlfriend you might want to show some of your culinary skills. Yummy idea! This will not only improve your relationship, but it's also a great way of reducing waste. Prepared and packaged foods, as well as take-out, are always going to be packaged in a lot of wasteful packaging and preparing meals at home eliminates it while giving a boost to your love life. Oh! And did you know that home-cooked food is definitely healthier than ready-meals?
Another action you can start from today is to Say no to takeaway coffee! Have you ever tried to count how much money you spend every month on coffee? Do it! When I first did it, I almost fell off of my chair. Since then, I invested some money on an espresso machine and I make my own coffee and invested in a reusable capsule so I don't litter with stupid mono-use ones.
Step 10 - No Junk Mail, Thank you
Junk mail is a huge waste of paper, ink, electricity, plus: who really reads it? Stick a "No Junk Mail" tag to your letterbox and when you do get some, simply contact the company who sent it and ask them to take you off of their list. Less junk mail, less junk. Easy.
The point is to do small things consistently to reduce our use and need of high for high-waste products and materials. We can improve the overall situation by demanding zero-waste products and boycotting those who have lots of packaging. Doing so, we will push companies to change their production process and we will all see the benefits.d
"Refuse what you do not need. Reduce what you do need. Reuse what you consume. Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse. And rot (compost) the rest". The 5Rs by Bea Johnson, ZeroWasteHome
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