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ZERO WASTE LIVING – A BEGINNERS GUIDE

So, you keep hearing the term zero waste or low waste being thrown around; You either are not really sure what it is, but you know its better for the environment or you know what it is and have spent hours on social media trying to figure out how to adapt to this lifestyle.

This does not happen overnight. It is a huge life change and taking it one step at a time is the best you can do for yourself and your planet. Eventually you will get to a life that is better lived for the plant, but the more you know the better it will be.

This will not look the same for everyone, so it is best if you just make the small changes with the resources you have.

What is zero waste?

Zero waste is a term used to explain waste prevention and how to regenerate it into our ecosystem.

” A combination of community and industrial responsibility that includes deconstruction in spite of demolition, composting to keep odorous organic waste out of landfills, recycling, and a screening facility to allow more separation and reuse of waste rather than incineration.”

By reducing our consumption to only the things we need, reusing as much as possible and recycling or composting the rest we can succeed with zero waste living.

More people are starting to change the way they live by becoming zero or low waste because of its benefits to our economy, community and the environment. So, lets talk about what those benefits are.

Benefits of Zero Waste living

Living a lifestyle where you are reducing your waste is so beneficial to the economy, the environment, and your pockets! Here are a few benefits to switching over to a zero-waste lifestyle:

Environmentally

Conserves resources
Reduces Pollution
Reduces our climate impact; reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to our global warming issue

Economically

No more food waste
Supports a circular/ regenerative economy and creates more jobs
Buying quality products
Buying less

Personally

More money in your pocket
Environmentally better eating habits by reducing your animal consumption since those tend to come in prepacked material
Buying second hand if you must buy things because those items are being recycled and usually cost less
More mindful of the things you buy

How do you become zero waste?

Some people think that being zero waste is expensive, but it is really not! If you look around your home you could start your zero-waste journey with things you already own.

Before we dive deep in ways to become zero waste, we should start with the 5 R’s. Many are used to the 3 – Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle, but Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home takes it a step further.

Refuse the things that you do not need. Things like junk mail, promotional items or new clothes. Think to yourself if you really need them.
Reduce the things you buy. Donate to local thrift shops by decluttering your home with things you don’t use, so that others wanting to shop second hand can benefit.
Reuse as much as possible. You can swap disposables for reusable items such as cloth napkins, grocery bags, produce bags, lunch boxed etc.
Recycle what you can. Just remember that recycling is not a simple system and not always the answer. It takes a lot of resources to recycle and it is not a 1:1 system.
Rot organic material to a compost system. You can either have an in-home compost system or find a local business or farm who does composting for you. Composting is good to use that soil to grow food.

So many of us want to live a better life, not just for ourselves and our family, but for the planet and generations to come. If you are looking to become more zero waste there are a few extra things you can do:

Use what you have.
Shop second hand.
Slowly start incorporating more reusable materials into your home by focusing on eliminating the single use items.
Swap out items for a low waste item as you finish it.
Bring your own materials to reduce disposables
Get involved in your community by shopping at your local bulk food stores and farmers markets
Reuse jars for bulk shopping or storing left overs.
Try making more things yourself.
Compost organic matter to reuse to grow food.

If you want to dive deeper into zero waste, you can think about how to lower your use in other ways and the ethical standards behind it. Avoid plastic all together, not just with our food containers but with the items we use on a daily basis. Reduce your animal consumption or buy from a local butcher or farmer who raises animals in an appropriate environment and treats them with care. Start thinking about where your food came from and whether or not it was imported from another country. If at all possible, try to buy local. And lastly, find companies who care!

When it comes to the ethical standards, do some digging to figure out the mission behind your favorite company. Understand labels; just because the label says organic, healthy, or natural doesn’t necessarily mean it was sustainably produced. Try to find out who this effects. It is always good to reduce our trash, but in the longer run we need to make sure it is affecting us and our planet in a good way. Always remember to always do your own research because you don’t want to just rely on one source.

Changing your lifestyle to a zero waste one can definitely be a challenge, but if you start with writing your ‘why’ down then it will give you even more reason to accomplish it. Not one person can change the world, but if everyone is slowly making an impact then we can save our planet.

If you feel overwhelmed with everything, it is always okay to take a step back and just focus on one thing at a time.

 

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