Many have come to regard the zero-waste lifestyle as a goal they aspire to. And yet, for most of us, the daunting task of leading a trash-free life seems somewhat unattainable. Fortunately, the most prominent figureheads of the zero-waste movement are edging away from the all-or-nothing mentality. They now acknowledge that millions of people adopting more sustainable practices imperfectly is far better than a handful of people doing it perfectly. Furthermore, the linear economy that is prevalent within our society deeply goes against what low-waste efforts stand for. The lifecycle of everything we consume makes it absolutely impossible not to produce waste somewhere along the way. But there are still plenty of things we can do to keep moving towards a greener tomorrow.
1. Reusables: A Staple of the Zero-Waste Lifestyle
Switching from disposable to reusable items can make a huge difference in the amount of waste you create. Did you know that every year over 45 billion disposable feminine hygiene products end up in landfills? Each one takes anywhere between 500 and 800 years to decompose. During this time, the plastic they contain will break down into what is known as “microplastic”. These tiny particles never fail to find their way up the food chain and into our very bloodstreams! Fortunately, there are some amazing alternatives out there, such as reusable period underwear. Réjeanne is one of the greenest brands of period panties and is out on a mission to help you on your zero-waste journey. Their products are made in France out of organic cotton.
The same logic can be applied to shopping bags, to repurposing jars to buy dry goods in bulk, using a beeswax wrap instead of cling wrap, drinking out of a reusable water bottle rather than constantly buying plastic bottles, etc.
2. Compost: A Way to Give Back to the Earth
You’d be amazed at the number of things that can be composted! Of course, food scraps are always cited at the top of the list, but anything cardboard (think pizza boxes, parcel boxes, toilet paper rolls, etc.), natural materials (such as 100% cotton, linen or hemp fabric, paper, etc.), dust, pet and human hair and nail clippings and more can also be composted. But since those items are biodegradable, why would you want to compost them rather than just throwing them away? Because the conditions in landfills prevent them from decomposing properly. Instead, they release noxious gases as they remain in huge piles for many years. Plus, composting literally creates soil to grow new plants from!
3. Swap and Buy Second-Hand
The clothing industry is one of the most wasteful there is, and it also happens to be connected with unethical practices and human right issues. Every item you purchase new has a footprint of its own, which is why fast fashion is a habit that proponents of the zero-waste movement are encouraging everyone to ditch. If you enjoy revamping your wardrobe on a regular basis, there are much more sustainable (and even cheaper!) ways to do so than to purchase inexpensive clothing from fast-fashion brands. Solutions for buying second-hand clothing are flourishing online and thrift shops are booming. You could also swap clothes with your friends and family.
And this doesn’t just apply to garments: buying second-hand, refurbished, or swapping can work for just about anything, especially tech and home appliances.
4. Go without
Although this might sound a bit extreme at first, it could simply mean borrowing or renting an item you know you are only going to use once or twice. It could also apply to physical gifts, which can be advantageously replaced with unforgettable experiences. Instead of yet another bottle of perfume or a new piece of clothing, you could enjoy an escape game, a hike, or a dinner at the restaurant with your family!
Never hesitate to question whether you actually need something before you buy it. Nothing bought means zero waste created and zero money spent!
5. Stay Informed
This final point may be the most crucial for anyone wanting to lead a more zero-waste lifestyle. It is only by becoming aware of the issues that we can do our utmost to fix them. If you’re still reading this, chances are you are already doing one of the most important things you possibly could: Caring enough to want to do better. Keep on reading, listening, and getting involved and you’ll soon find even more reasons to embrace sustainable living and more ways in which you make a difference.