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Are you thinking of going zero waste, trying to reduce waste or live a low waste lifestyle? It may be that you want to do just a little bit more to help reduce waste but don’t know where to start? Well this post is going to talk about some easy zero waste strategies you can use, what zero waste means, and how having a lower or zero waste goal can really have an impact. Here are the benefits of zero waste and why zero waste is so important.
- Why Zero Waste Is Important
- How Can You Change To Help Produce A Zero Waste World?
- Go partially or fully meat free
- Stop buying just for the sake of it.
- Think about buying second hand, especially plastic goods.
- Buy Reusable Items – And Not Disposable
- If You Are Throwing Away, Can It Be Sold Or Donated?
- Buy Local – And Refuse To Buy Things In Plastic
- Change Hurts – What Are The Benefits Of Zero Waste Lifestyle Changes
Why Zero Waste Is Important
The climate crisis is rarely out of the news these days. But climate change is not a recent conversation. In the late 90s I recall attending a teen conference that spoke about the future effects of gas emissions if we continued on our unsustainable love of fossil fuels. At the time, the main topic of conversation was how the ozone layer had become depleted but we also spoke about how greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide levels were rising mainly due to mankind’s use of coal and oil.
But things have moved on apace in more recent times. A few years ago an Australian think tank (source) warned that climate change could bring about a catastrophic end to civilisation within the next 30 years. The authors of the report claimed that by as soon as 2050 the world’s population will face crop yields dropping by a fifth, an ice-free Arctic, and sea levels rising by half a metre. This appalled me. Not just for me, but for my child. So this is why we need to change to zero waste now.
The rising sea levels alone are a massive cause for concern. The number of people that would be displaced by such a rise is alone a problem. A billion climate migrants would be forced from areas flooded into other heavily populated areas, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Yes, I know that we are not in control of large manufacturers and industries. The IPCC also produces reports and recommendations. But they end up needing agreements and being signed off by governments and countries. And the bottom line is that politics will always favour profit over people. We all need to be doing something on a wider scale, and all be involved in doing it.
It is lovely to see that so many people are doing their bit, and I have found a lot of bloggers who do believe in the zero waste message. But we all need to commit to making daily changes to our lives if we are to collectively make a worldwide difference.
We have become a consumer society. From the clothes that we wear to the furniture in our homes.
My parents grew up in the 1940s, and they had none of the material things that our generations take for granted. Clothes, furniture, crockery and cutlery were handed down between families. There was very little in the way of luxuries, and pictures and ornaments were rare and treasured items. In fact a lot of old worn out clothes were recycled, either to make new garments, or to make rag rugs and patchwork quilts. If something broke it has to be fixed. There was no going out and getting a new one unless it was absolutely unfixable. Things lasted.
Now, we fill our homes with knick-naks and fripperies. And when we don’t want to look at them/wear them/sit on them we consign them to landfill and go out and buy more. Mass production has produced a throwaway society. And coupled with the mass manufacture of plastics and cheap clothing in far-away places we can now fill our homes many times over with cheap things.
(But do they ever really make us happy? And we are killing the planet with them).
We particularly have filled our homes with plastic. The production of tiny microscopic micro plastic particles has now entered the food chain. The oceans are full of this pollution. And the thing is, we can have an effect on this by choosing to purchase things differently. Just like many places are now banning plastic straws and paper cotton buds have become the norm. The tide is changing. Just not quickly enough!
How Can You Change To Help Produce A Zero Waste World?
It is important to mention that you do not have to do all these changes all at once. Progress over perfection has always been my watchwords. My advice is to try a small change to see if it fits in with your lifestyle. If it works for you, carry on with that and make another small change. If it doesn’t work, scrap it and try a different change. All the small changes if we’ll make them add up to big results.
Go partially or fully meat free
Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way of reducing your environmental impact. This source explains why. Try and reduce food waste as much as you can. And compost your old veg.
Stop buying just for the sake of it.
I am not here to tell you to go out and buy a load of zero waste products. But buy once, choose well, and make it last. And once it is finished with, recycle or reuse it for something else.
Love recycling? See my post here on upcycling old clothes.
Think about buying second hand, especially plastic goods.
Buying second hand is no longer such a taboo subject. In fact it has become an incredibly chic thing to do.
So think about buying second hand before buying new for most items. And reduce using single use plastics as much as possible. Make Second Hand September a year round thing.
Buy Reusable Items – And Not Disposable
Do consider making or buying reusable kitchen roll, makeup removers,unsponges, cloth nappies, reusable sandwich wraps instead of plastic ziplock bags, a menstrual cup and reusable sanitary pads. Yes, they may be more of a faff, but they are so much more eco friendly. Much less plastic going to landfills.
If You Are Throwing Away, Can It Be Sold Or Donated?
When you do declutter or throw anything away, sort it properly and reuse if possible. Sell on if you can. Free local facebook groups are brilliant if you’re looking for something or getting rid of larger items.
Buy Local – And Refuse To Buy Things In Plastic
Buying local is much better for the circular economy, keeping money in your local community. You can probably walk, so it reduces your carbon footprint. Plus, local shops are less likely to wrap everything in plastic packaging.
Vote with your feet. Consider not buying products from companies that put profit over the environment, and have unethical practices sourcing their raw materials and natural resources, labour or poor waste management.
We quickly forget about the companies that are using unsustainable palm oil and causing the deforestation of places like Borneo, with devastating effects on the habitats. See my post here about this. But I stopped buying from some of these companies. Similarly, you could start voting for change in the politics of your region or country.
Change Hurts – What Are The Benefits Of Zero Waste Lifestyle Changes
I am not going to pretend that all the changes are going to be easy. It is quite hard giving up all the little things that we have come to expect and rely on in life. Like non-recyclable plastic, single use items, coffee capsules, fast fashion.
But change does have to happen, and happen from all of us if it is going to have any impact on the wider environmental issues facing the world.
You can bury your head in the sand. You can say “It won’t affect me!” – but the fact is that if you are still alive in 30 years time it WILL. Unless you change your ways today.
And not just think about it. But actually do it. We all need to change to zero waste now. Small changes made globally and collectively are the only way. Or we risk losing this planet for humankind.
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