The global sustainability movement has made way for the large scale following of zero waste lifestyles. People who choose to lead zero waste lifestyles adopt habits to ensure the reduction of waste through their consumption patterns. The three main principles that drive this lifestyle change are reduce, reuse and recycle. Using the 3 R’s as inspiration, the following list guides you through the 5 simple steps that you should take to reduce your impact today:
Most products in the market today are harmful to the environment. The packaging used in these products contribute largely to the problem.
Large scale manufacturers, especially those who produce FMCG products, tend to exploit the cheap and durable nature of plastic that helps preserve their product for longer periods. This is especially true of the food and cosmetic products that you often find in your supermarkets.
When choosing to lead a zero waste lifestyle, it’s important to keep a close eye on the packaging that your products are sold it. The reusable nature of glass, metal and to some extent, aluminium make these materials more suitable for packaging than plastic.
Do it Yourself!
A true zero waste lifestyle can be achieved by replacing store bought products with your own homemade alternatives.
The pros of taking the DIY route include an increased awareness of all the ingredients that go into your product. It’s the best way you can be absolutely sure of the quality and effectiveness of the products you consume. You can make your product 100% organic to ensure that any residue is biodegradable.
Since the products are homemade, you can use reusable containers that you might already have at home and ensure a completely zero waste consumption cycle. This applies to cosmetics, food and so many other products that can be made at home.
Although making your own products from scratch is ideal for the environment, it might not always be in favour of your tight schedule. Planning ahead and making these alternatives takes time and effort.
In situations where you have no choice but to choose a ready-made alternative, choose the lesser of the evils. Sourcing local or freshly made products that are sold in your community is better than buying from a superstore.
These local products (food, cosmetics, clothes, etc.) are likely to contain much less packaging that will eventually end up in landfills and ocean beds. In these cases, it’s also easier to directly communicate with your producer or vendor when you are unhappy with the high environmental impact of the product. In the case of food and cosmetic products, you can also use your own reusable containers to get refills whenever needed.
If you are unable to make your own products and have no local providers to source your products from, there is still room for sustainable choices.
It’s important to do your own research and understand your options. Pay attention to the ingredients used in your products and choose brands that have comparatively more sustainable core values. These values usually translate into investments and partnerships that aim to conserve the environment.
Even though the product itself might not be 100% eco-friendly, at least the brand is contributing a share of their sales to projects that will support the environment in the long run. For example, Columbia (the clothing and apparel brand) provides annual product and cash donations to a variety of conservation centred non-profits such as The Conservation Alliance, The Ocean Foundation and the National Park foundation.
When attempting to lead a zero waste lifestyle, you are likely to deal with a learning curve. No matter how dedicated you are to the cause, it does take time to adapt. During this time, you will find yourself using the polluting products that you have grown used to.
It’s important for you to save up all of the trash that you generate, either from the packaging or the residue of the product itself, to be recycled on a monthly basis. This could also help you see your monthly progress as the trash collected continues to reduce.
Notice the types of plastic that you tend to collect over the rest and tweak your purchasing habits to minimise those as well.
Above all these tips, it’s important to remember that we don’t need a handful of people living a life of zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people trying to achieve it imperfectly. Offsetting your own waste is a strong way to kickstart your efforts in protecting the planet.
Get zero waste tips especially curated for you by calculating your plastic footprint and becoming a reBalancer with us. The reBalancer community is constantly pushing the bounds when it comes to leading a impact-free life.
Afrah is a recent graduate based out of Bangalore, India. Her passion lies in digital media, creative branding strategy and the power of the same in affecting social change. Through her role at rePurpose, she hopes to shed light on the urgency of the multifaceted environmental issues faced by us today.