A low or zero waste lifestyle focuses on waste prevention – meaning, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. But why should one care about this?
Here’s a thought: Here in Australia, we are still sending 40,560 rubbish trucks worth of recyclables to landfill every year. Australia is known as the ‘Lucky Country’ yet, it is also the most wasteful nation in the developed world. Failure to take real action now, means that by 2040 will see ocean plastic quadruple and our use of plastic double. Need I say more?
But living in a world dominated by plastic, living a complete zero waste lifestyle is nearly inescapable. However, if we at least START living a low waste journey and progressively commit to making more and more sustainable swaps, each will accumulate to create a great impact and best of all, those swaps will become achievable.
Here are 8 simple but effective ways for you to embark on a low waste lifestyle:
1. Find your why: Since you’re reading this blog post, you must have a reason for wanting to live a zero-waste lifestyle. So what is your unique “why”? Knowing this is important to keep yourself on the straight and narrow towards your zero waste goals. And whatever it is, write it on a post-it note and stick it on your fridge/mirror/computer to keep your reason/s front of mind.
- Say ‘no’ to plastics, choose refillable and reusables: There are so many quick and easy plastic-free swaps available. Here are a few:
- Use natural home cleaning products such as Resparkle. No chemicals, no fuss and no waste like the big supermarket brands.
- When you’re getting a takeaway coffee, take the “No Cup, No Coffee” challenge – which means to forgo the takeaway coffee unless you have a reusable cup! (I love using my SoL cup)
- BYO shopping bag/s – always keep some in the car or your bag ready for the quick duck or large haul trips. With a little preparedness, this will become second nature to you!
- Use it up: There’s no need to invest heaps in sustainable swaps! It’s important to remember that when we are throwing things away, there’s no such thing as “away”. It all ends up somewhere. So take a moment to assess what’s in front of you and think – Can I find a new use for this item?
For example with:
- Empty jars – reuse them to store rice, spices, stewed fruit, smoothies (the list goes on, but you get the drill)
- Old furniture – repurpose them to give your home an update without adding to mass consumerism
- Old t-shirts – reuse them as dusters, cleaning cloths, pot holders, tote bags (again, the list goes on)
- Get thrifty: Hit up your local op shops to shop for clothes and buy second-hand. Not only is this cheaper, but the products are also already made, which saves the energy production from creating new products. Plus, you’ll become the new owner of a piece that is truly unique and quirky, whilst saving the previously loved item from ending up in landfill. It’s a win-win shopping situation!
- Make what you can: It’s always fun to get a bit creative and DIY. Plus, there are loads of easy-to-follow tutorials on YouTube these days to help you. (Hint: check out Alexx Stuart’s Low Tox Life or Krissy Ballinger’s Inspired Little Pot)
- Shop at your local farmers market for your fresh produce: They not only deliver fresh, local food but are also environmentally friendly. Many of these farmers engage in sustainable farming practices that improve, rather than degrade the natural environment.
- Love what you have: We’ve been conditioned to use, replace and repeat. But again, if we take a moment to appreciate what’s in front of us and think about how we could extend its lifecycle and keep it out of landfill. For example, when something breaks, try fixing it. Let’s move away from the ‘linear economy’ and live in the ‘circular economy’.
- Compost: Organic waste in landfill generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It’s time to partner with the environment and feed the soil, literally. Start your very own home compost or else, search for them! Freeze your compost in a jar or container and find your nearest community compost. (I use ShareWaste – an app that helps you find composters in your neighbourhood).
As Anne Marie Bonneau once said: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” A zero-waste lifestyle starts with YOU.