Last updated on February 19th, 2024 at 03:17 am
Living a zero waste lifestyle shouldn’t be this hard. But we live in a consumerist society, and we’re all bombarded with advertisements all the time. Which makes the whole saving the environment by consuming less thing quite challenging. But, obviously, zero waste living can – and should – be done.
A “zero waste” lifestyle isn’t literally zero waste; it cannot be. This is a disclaimer for the pedants here (of which I happen to be one). This is better described as a low waste lifestyle, and basically involves reducing your waste as well as your carbon footprint (reducing use of the planet’s resources) as much as possible.
Just do your best, and be mindful of your impact on the planet (and your local environment). Pro tip: spending less money is the easiest way to control the major wastages, since money usually translates into material items – which have been made using the Earth’s resources. Buying less = wasting less. So keeping a close eye on your budget is essential.
- Top Tips to Living a Zero Waste Lifestyle
- ZERO WASTE KITCHEN
- ZERO WASTE HOME
- ZERO WASTE LIFESTYLE
Last year was a 6 on 10 for me, when it came to living a zero waste lifestyle. And I’m being generous here; if I had to be super strict, I’d be able to give myself maybe a 4 out of 10. What went wrong? Just the difficulty of living in this world, with its rampant plastic packaging and scarce recycling possibilities. What went right? My attempt to be as minimalist as possible: If you buy less, you end up wasting less. I did the bare minimum purchasing of new items, bought only secondhand electronics, and my new job allows me to take the bus to work everyday – which I count as a win (it was an unexpected part of my new job, but a win nonetheless).
But I could have still done a lot more. Hence the 5 out of 10 (I’ve averaged out the 6 and 4 to arrive at 5!). I have decided to be more intentional about it than I was last year, and make a rough zero waste guide for this year. This is meant to help me, but if it helps others also, then that’s awesome:)
Ok now, let’s get into the details of living a zero waste lifestyle in 2022.
Top Tips to Living a Zero Waste Lifestyle
Let’s go in sections – kitchen (where we generate a lot of waste), then the home in general, followed by our lifestyle choices.
1 // Reduce food waste
Buy what you need, and make sure you use whatever you’ve bought. The average American wastes up to a pound of food a day. The environmental costs of that adds up to a lot of extremely damaging waste. And, remember, “wasted food, like all food production, also contributes to the warming of the planet, because agriculture is a key source of the fast-warming gases methane and nitrous oxide.” So plan your meals in advance, which will help you reduce waste.
Also to remember, apart from the environmental consequences, is that there are still many people around the world who don’t have enough to eat. Us eating less will not necessarily translate into more food for them, but do keep in mind the value of the thing we’re so casually wasting; it’s a matter of life or death for someone else. Unlike wasting, say, paper or plastic.
2 // Reduce consumption of meat
Eat less meat – that’s always a good piece of advice. Not all of us can manage on a vegan or vegetarian diet, but our agricultural system is currently set up such that the meat industry contributes a very high amount to global warming. A 2013 study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that total annual emissions from animal agriculture (production emissions and land-use change) were about 14.5 percent of all human emissions, of which beef contributed 41 percent. Meat has some essential nutrients for us, yes, but eating less meat would do some good to us all.
Not to say plant agriculture is blameless, but hey, we gotta eat something, right?
3 // Switch from paper towels to cloth
Replace your kitchen paper towels with some old rags. It’s so cheap even: just use your old t-shirts, cotton tops and stuff to clean up spills in your kitchen. Here’s the key difference: you can wash the cloth and reuse them. Instead of the use-and-throw paper napkins.
4 // Avoid single-use products
Speaking of use-and-throw, stop using single use products! Plastic straws, spoons and forks, plastic bags, anything that’s designed for single use…just stop using them. Enough already.
5 // Switch to reusable items
If not single use items, then what? Exactly what people were using before plastic was invented: ceramic, glass, wooden, steel.
Like this steel water bottle.
They’re not made to be disposable, and good quality items will even last you a lifetime! And the best part? You can stock up of these items at the thrift store. Hmmm…vintage;)
6 // Buy in bulk
Buy in the bulk items section of the department store. Now, not everyone has access to such stores, and I understand that. But, if you do have that option, please exercise it. Take your own jars and containers for your grocery shopping and fill them up minus any plastic use (well, except the plastic sanitary gloves, but…). Support local artisans who made soap by hand by buying and using soap made by them. Maybe you can learn how to make your own soap, so you know exactly what goes into it. Make your own snacks in bulk, and swap with friends. The possibilities are endless.
ZERO WASTE HOME
7 // Conserve water
Try rainwater harvesting if that’s a thing in your area, take shorter showers (or fill up water in a bucket and use that to bathe), recycle water at home (collect runoff water from your AC and water your plants with it). Reduce water use as much as possible in your home.
8 // Switch to non-toxic household products
Make (or buy) non-toxic cleaning products and non-toxic personal care products. Conventional chemical cleaners have been linked to cancers and respiratory issues, so it’s best to not opt for them. Make your own products (Dr. Bronner’s is a popular ingredient in most recipes), save yourself some money, and give yourself some peace of mind – cos your family isn’t being poisoned!:P
Read more tips for a zero waste home.
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE DETAILS.
ZERO WASTE LIFESTYLE
9 // Stop buying fast fashion
Shop at thrift stores for some excellent thrift store fashion finds. Buy organic denim and cotton clothing. Fast fashion exploits workers along the supply chain and has a huge negative impact on the environment thanks to their basic business model. Let’s stop supporting fast fashion brands.
10 // Buy secondhand electronics
Buy refurbished electronics. I say this as someone who has been using secondhand/refurbished electronic gadgets for years.
Or support fairtrade companies such as Fairphone.
11 // Expand your skill set
Cooking, gardening, sewing, woodwork – these are all such excellent past times, apart from being vital skills. Building your skills will take time, but it’s so worth it, for your mental, physical and emotional health (apart from being practical AF). Imagine if you could build your own stylish desk with locally sourced wood, instead of having one shipped from Thailand or Sweden. You would cook your own healthy meals every day, and spend less time, money and medical fees on outside food. Imagine the sense of accomplishment – and the limited waste that you would be contributing to.
12 // Rediscover the library
Borrow books, instead of buying. This is a hard one for me, because I love books. But I’m not giving up books; I’m just borrowing instead of buying. Saves me money and saves the planet some trees…
I also buy secondhand books. I think of it as investing in art – where the old, worn, yellowing book is a work of art…and I am saving it. Hehe.
13 // Go digital
This may not be ideal, and still uses up a lot of energy, but you can save some trees by using tech instead of paper. Take school and work notes on your computer, use a digital planner instead of a Moleskine (digital planners are awesome!), and buy an e-book or audiobook instead of a paperback (this breaks my book-loving heart, but we need to be strong).
14 // Volunteer for clean-up activities
Check your local listings for beach cleanups, trail cleanups, river cleanups. There’s more than enough to clean up these days. Roll your sleeves up and help out whenever you can.
15 // Be the example
Be a good role model, and be the change you wish to see in the world. Not being cheesy here, but there’s never been a more important time to set a positive example. Everyone is watching the weather news, and regardless of whether they believe in climate change or not, and whether they believe they can do something or not, they will be positively affected by seeing someone who is consciously, deliberately doing his/her best to reduce our impact on the planet. It can be pretty powerful.
This post was about zero waste living
I hope these points helped you think of changes you can make to your own life. Perfect zero waste is not possible! But the closer we get to zero waste living, the better it is for us all – and for the planet!
If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. Thank you!<3
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE DETAILS.