The number of plastic bags that we use yearly is around 5 billion! That’s huge, right?
Out of these, only about 10 percent get recycled. So where do the remaining go? Unfortunately, most of them go to landfill sites, where they take years to degrade and seriously threaten our environment.
However, plastic wastes are not the only threat to our environment. Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are also at an all-time high, contributing to the climate crisis and pollution.
So, what do we do to mitigate this problem? Several solutions have been proposed, but one stands out; zero-waste living.
If you want tips on practicing zero-waste living (especially as a beginner), continue reading.
In this post, you will discover the benefits of the zero-waste tips for beginners, and you’ll also find helpful tips to get you started as a zero-waste.
Let’s get to it, then.
Why zero waste? Benefits of zero waste practice
Zero waste living is all about conserving energy and resources by modifying our consumption mode, product packaging, etc., to reduce waste generation and reusing ‘wastes’ as raw materials for new products.
Now, you may already be wondering, “why practice zero waste? What are its benefits anyway?” Well, that’s because it does our environment and our climate a lot of good and helps save money (among other things).
So, what are the benefits of zero waste management? Here are some of its benefits;
It can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We expend a lot of energy in our day-to-day operations. From electricity generation to transportation to the heating and cooking process in our homes, they consume so much energy.
What else do these processes have in common besides energy consumption?
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions!
Most of our daily operations generate abundant greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.). They are primarily generated from burning coal, oil, and natural gas, which make up the major power source in many parts of the world.
Should we be worried? I’d say, “Yes!”
Because these greenhouse gases retain heat energy reflected from the earth’s surface, the earth only absorbs less than 50% of the sun’s energy; the rest is reflected in space.
However, these gases trap the heat in the atmosphere and return it to the earth’s surface. Consequently, the earth’s surface temperature increases to maintain the energy balance – in other words, Global Warming!
Zero waste living embraces recycling and reduces energy consumption. Thus, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s a short-term solution to climate change.
Greenhouse gases emission is affecting our climate in no small way. More so, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at a record high.
But, an imminent climate crisis can be avoided by implementing zero-waste practices. Zero-waste strategies are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 400 million tons of carbon dioxide yearly by 2030. This is much more than alternative strategies like nuclear power expansion, vehicle efficiency increment, and carbon capture projects.
Other benefits/advantages of zero-waste living include;
- It reduces pollution, especially plastic waste pollution.
- It is easy to implement, practice, and incorporate into daily life.
- It can foster equity and community-building
- It can also benefit the economy since it creates jobs and creates a circular economy.
Some major zero-waste practices include reducing waste generation and reusing and recycling waste products.
Zero waste lifestyle in 45 simple steps – for beginners
Now, you may be one of those who think that practicing zero-waste living is difficult. What if I told you it’s not that hard? In fact, some of them are super easy to practice.
Have you always wanted to do your part in the zero waste movement, but you don’t know how? Look no further. Below are easy and simple steps to start practicing plastic-free, zero-waste living, especially as a beginner.
- Give unused items/gadgets to the second-hand market or local thrift store. You should also purchase items from the second-hand market yourself or ask friends & family before you think of buying new ones.
- Eliminate one-time-use items; use more reusable items. That way, you won’t have to dispose of it often.
- Do not hesitate to repurpose clothes like old sheets and towels into handkerchiefs, rags, and napkins.
- If you’re a woman, you should use menstrual cups and clothes pads (reusable) instead of pads and tampons (one-time use).
- Reduce your plastic usage (plastic water bottles and co) as much as possible. (You can use a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one).
- Use a compost bin rather than the common waste bins.
- When you need an item, think of borrowing or renting it before buying it; you should only buy it when necessary.
- Consider homemade products before imported goods.
- Use minimal wardrobes. Don’t stuff your wardrobe with clothes you know you won’t wear.
- Prepare your food at home and pack it instead of eating out.
- Endeavor to repair your gadgets/items when they break instead of replacing them with new ones.
- Whenever you travel, use public transport over personal cars as this reduces the gas emission per head.
- Use rechargeable gadgets.
- Whenever you’re at a party, request reusable plates, forks, and cups from the host instead of one-time plates/forks.
- Embrace DIYs. For example, you can make zero-waste bug sprays or insecticides to control mosquitoes in your home.
- Reduce water usage by cutting back on your meat consumption. It takes about 1,800 gallons of water to prepare one pound of beef! (Don’t worry, you don’t have to go fully vegan)
- Learn to preserve food by freezing them in glass jars rather than plastic containers.
- Use reusable clothes instead of paper towels.
- When you go shopping, carry a few reusable containers with you.
- Find ways to upcycle used products in your house. Always try to make what you need from what you already have in your house.
- Avoid using chemicals to dye your hair; natural dyes like henna can be used.
- Instead of buying new books, you can get audiobooks, PDFs, or Epub versions of the books. You can also purchase second-hand copies if it’s necessary to get a hard copy.
- Find a better way to dispose of your clothes. You can even make cash by selling your clothes on second-hand clothing platforms.
- Resist impulsive buying; make sure you need an item before purchasing it.
- Avoid synthetic clothes (i.e., clothes made from nylon, rayon, organza, taffeta, lycra, polyester, and other non-biodegradable materials).
- Preserve your food items by wrapping them in a wax wrap.
- Line your waste bins with newspaper rather than the common plastic linings.
- Reduce food waste; always find a way to resume food scraps. It would be best if you only disposed of food items when they are not fit for consumption or can’t be repurposed for anything.
- Learn how to regrow vegetables like carrots, lettuce, green onion, garlic, celery, etc.
- Use bamboo dish brushes/loofah sponges to clean your dishes other than the common plastic sponges.
- Avoid laundry detergents made from petrochemicals; use eco-friendly detergents or make one yourself.
- Support sustainable companies; unsustainable companies generate tonnes of waste, thus destroying our planet.
- Always choose products without plastic packaging.
- Find alternatives to short-distance flights; fly only when necessary.
- Whenever you present gifts to your friends/family, find other ways to wrap the gifts without using plastic wraps.
- Reduce your paper usage by shopping online, using digital tickets, avoiding printing unnecessarily, and choosing paper items that can be recycled.
- Try meal planning to reduce food wastage.
- Buy more locally made goods other than imported goods.
- Use homemade deodorants.
- Whenever you can’t avoid disposing of materials, do so properly.
- Use both sides of the paper.
- Consume local, seasonal food produce.
- Adopt a zero-waste cleaning routine that suits your schedule.
- Don’t take straws from a restaurant or a cafe.
- Finally, learn more about zero-waste principles by reading zero-waste books.
There you go. Easy, right? You should know that the tips above are like a guide to get you started on your zero-waste journey.
After going through those tips, you would agree that there are more ways to practice zero-waste living or live plastic free than the ones mentioned.
So, do not limit yourself. Instead, learn more about the zero-waste lifestyle, and our planet will thank you for it.