Zero Waste Lifestyle
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”unknown
A simple, strategic and complete Beginners Guide to a Zero Waste Lifestyle.
Why go Zero Waste and what to do about it.
Are you considering living a zero waste lifestyle? I have researched a ton and come up with an ultimate and realistic approach to zero waste living.
What is Zero Waste?
Zero Waste is philosophy, a change in mind-set, a journey and a process to an ethical, economical and efficient ultimate goal that encourages reprogramming our lifestyles to use less. It involves that all products are reused and no trash is burned or sent to the landfills or the ocean / environment.
What does this mean?
Zero waste means we value and treasure the things we already have and look after them well.
We precycle before buying new things. Reducing waste is all about preserving already available resources. Making things last for as long as possible, and making the most of what we have.
In other words: we reuse all we have until the lifespan is complete, even then, we dispose of them ethically without harming the environment.
It requires that we examine our own life patterns in order to focus on the sustainable long lasting use of natural (limited) resources and create more resources that have minimum impact to the environment.
Ultimately, switching to reusable items so that we reduce the waste and carbon footprint that we produce on the ecosystem.
It uses and relies on high-quality, bulk and biodegradable products.
Zero Waste Living takes lots of effort, daily intentions, mind-set and lifestyle switches but has so many personal, communal and environmental benefits.
Precycling means we should implement more mindful decisions about our actions inside of our homes, the products we allow into our homes and how we dispose of those products after the full lifespan.
Complete Zero Waste should be an ultimate unrealistic goal. It is a journey, a conscious everyday process where every step is of importance. It is not about perfection but about making better and conscious living choices.
Where do we begin?
There is an overwhelming amount of information on Zero waste but a simple place to begin is with a change in your mindset.
Give yourself grace, have patience. And remember that a journey has twists, turns, wins and losses. But we shouldn’t give up.
Use up what you have and gradually replace sustainably (zero waste) as you go. Consider the R’ philosophy of Zero Waste.
Our homes are a good place to start. We keep all our belongings and spend most of our time in our homes.
Remember that every small change counts and adds up. Try implementing one small change at a time to avoid overwhelm.
Make Zero Waste living personal to you. Therefore, different results will reflect with the ultimate goal of protecting the environment. Start where it is easiest for you. Educate yourself on living more sustainably.
Keep or make a new circle of friends who are striving to zero waste. You find lots of resources online and around your neighbourhood such as plastic free and or bulk stores, movements, zero waste friends, farmers markets and recycling centres etc.
Trying to live with less plastic means refusing single-use plastic, using non-plastic alternatives where possible, and choosing to reuse and recycle the plastic we can’t avoid so as to stop plastic waste.
It’s about finding alternatives, solutions and better ways of doing things to reduce our carbon footprint.
Things to do when going Zero Waste:
Download Zero Waste apps.
Turn bottles upside down to get every last drop out.
Exchange goods with others.
Save water and natural resources. Close the tap when brushing teeth. Make sure it is closed to avoid dripping taps.
Look for products in glass, cardboard, or paper in your regular store.
Support ecologically, local and socially conscious companies.
Unpaper towels. Dish towels, cloth napkins, and rags instead. (Microfiber, 100% cotton and bamboo cloths).
Convert to bar soaps.
Buy in bulk
Buy Organic foods from farmers markets or organic stores.
Research on the products you buy to make better green choices.
Shop less and buy only what you mean to keep, pass on or recycle.
Buy seasonal and fresh produce only what you can eat before the sell-by date.
Invest in sustainable products like glass, stainless steel, coconut or bamboo (natural fibres) for your home.
Use natural household cleaners.
Grow your own produce.
Arrange your errands in one location, if possible so you can park your car and walk more instead of driving around.
Unplug devices in your home that aren’t in use even when the switch is off, they still consume energy. Switch off lights and use as much natural light as possible.
Replace your bulbs to led lights. They consume less energy.
Use something till the end of its lifecycle, then put it into the compost bin, knowing that it will break down naturally and create an organic material to enrich your garden.
Open windows for fresh air.
Cut down on paper.
Have a zero-waste support team, online friends or real friends to walk this journey with you, encourage you and celebrate your wins. As well as advise you, listen to you and give you ideas.
Why is Zero Waste important?
Because plastic is made from fossil fuels that doesn’t decompose but ends up in landfills breaking down into micro plastic that make ways down the drains, into the environment and oceans. Plastic harms wildlife by entangling them and through ingestion. We then eat marine life, water from oceans and inhale plastic which is also bad for our health. It’s important to reduce our waste to help save the oceans and the entire ecosystem. Everything we do is interconnected to each other.
Going zero waste also has significant health benefits. There are lots of the allergens, irritants, solvents and chemicals that exist in household products like detergents, cleaning products and dyes, that damage skin and affect the central nervous system. I’m not going to go into detail about the bad things in our everyday products.
The philosophy of Zero Wasting:
Based on the R’ Philosophy of Zero Waste.
Rethinking and Precycling: this involves changing the way we think towards living. That we can make a difference. Every small thing counts. We rethink and prepare before going out to do purchases what we need exactly. How to affects our home and what we bring into the home. How they are economical and nontoxic. What will we do about it.
Refusing plastic and those negatives into our homes. Things we don’t need or things that are not Zero Waste. Refusing to be swayed and refusing to give up.
Reducing the amount of waste we produce and reducing the amount of waste we allow to go into the environment. As well as what goes to the landfills. Using eco cleaning products and beauty.
Reusing plastic and all we have over and over until the lifespan is completely over. Then safely depositing, composting and decomposing. That’s why its necessary to precycle so that whatever we bring into our homes will one day safely decompose. Creatively using clothes for cleaning.
Recycling needs to be done right with the right materials to be recycled. Also note that only a certain percentage is recycled.
Rotting and replanting: compositing a lot of our food waste into soil that can be used safely and naturally in our gardens. (No pesticides nor added chemicals). Growing safe and non toxic organic food for our families.
Replanting: see rotting post.
Regifting: giving to others when we don’t need or use something.
Repairing: sewing, fixing, repairing ever tear, bruise. Refurbishing or remaking big old clothes for our children or pets. Adjusting clothes that don’t fit.
Zero waste kit
- Insulated re-useable grocery bags
- Produce bags
- Mesh bags
- Mason jars
- Reusable water bottle
- Plastic or Reusable food container you already have in your home
- Reusable utensils (made from Bamboo, Silicone, stainless steel etc.)
- Reusable Straws
- Cloth Napkins
Zero Waste Grocery shopping kit:
- glass or plastic containers with lids of various sizes.
- Large Natural Produce Bags
- String bags
- Silicone Ziploc bags
- Reusable glass bottles or mason jars for soups, 100% juices
- Beeswax wraps
- Stainless steel tins
- Fabric bags for dried goods
- Mesh bags for veggies and fruit
- Breathable material for bread
- Cloth shopping bags to hold all your groceries
- Long Glass jars for wet products such vinegars, virgin oils, soaps
- Spice jars
A lot of our waste comes from the kitchen from grocery shopping, cutlery, utensils, cleaning, cooking and food we waste.
Zero Waste ideas to implement in the kitchen are:
Reuse Plastic Containers
Upgrade to Stainless Steel glass containers, bamboo, silicone kitchen utensils.
Switch to sustainable kitchen gadgets and appliances like gas or wooden stoves, microwaves, toasters, kettles etc.
Invest in Reusable Food Wraps like beeswax wraps
Freeze leftovers and fresh in season foods and fruits. (Remember to write down purchase date)
Meal plan to avoid food waste.
Make an inventory. When you buy groceries move the stock that already in the pantry to the front because most likely the expiry date is closer.
Use Scraps like vegetable scraps to make vegetable broth.
Unpaper your towels. Use dish towels, cloth napkins, and rags instead.
Silicone or stainless steel Ice Cube Trays
Eco Travel Mugs
Ditch Disposable Cupcake Liners.
Reduce your food waste by eating your food. Cooking and baking from scratch.
Start composting your food scraps and other biodegradable items.
Buy Zero-Waste Cleaning products.
Some Skills you may consider learning:
Crocheting, quilting, knitting and sewing: learn basic hand stitches for mending clothes. I admired my friend who had a baby shower and her grans made her baby lovely knitted winter blankets, shawls, jackets, socks, booties and caps. They are so beautiful.
Basic house and mechanical maintenance.
Budgeting and saving.
Learn hacks to use the most of everything for example cutting toothpaste in half when it seems to be finished etc. Pinterest has lots of these hacks.
Cooking from scratch including outside / fire or wooden stove cooking.
Baking (making your own bread)
Gardening and or permaculture
Food preservation and canning
Herbal remedies and apothecary.
Learn to use basic DIY tools
Making cleaning products.
To be present and in the moment, off gadgets that waste electricity.
The Plastic Culprits that pollute our environment and to avoid:
· Bottle/Container caps
- Plastic bags
- Food waste
Cups / Plates (Styrofoam)
Cigarette butts and lighters
Take away containers
- Deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, makeup, soaps and other personal care products in plastic.
Where to buy:
Farmers markets sell veggies, fruits, some grains/nuts, organic or natural skincare products, candles, coconuts raw butters, handmade wooden toys etc. Ethical clothing and kitchenware. Freshly made organic foods.
Bakeries for your freshly baked goodies.
Bulk stores provide oats, grains, virgin oils, legumes, spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, freshly squeezed juices, beans, cooking products, spices, coffee, snacks, dried fruits, eco cleaning products and more.
Online green grocery stores (according to the store) provide baby products, pet care, home, cleaning, office, baking products, compostable packaging, cold pressed oils, solar heating, medication, personal care, healthy snacks, eco straws, toiletries, clothing etc. Read about Green Grocery stores in South Africa here: https://mrschettylifestyle.co.za/online-green-grocery-stores/
Zero Waste websites: