As the self-proclaimed Zerowasteman, I have learned a lot about living a zero-waste lifestyle and why I can highly recommend it to anyone. Not just to help the environment and maintain the beauty of our planet, but especially for your and your family’s health.
In this article, we go over the benefits of zero waste and how you can live more healthy, have more energy, and live more intentionally in harmony with the planet; we talk to an expert about waste strategies and show you examples that you can quickly implement into your own life.
What are the benefits of zero waste?
When I first learned how plastic was made and how little we recycle, I was saddened and angry. But this led me to do my research and find out the benefits of zero waste.
The benefits of zero waste are; only using high-quality products that last; less material is going to landfills. You are coming in less contact with harmful chemicals, which equals fewer visits to the doctor. It implements the 5 R’s (refuse, reuse, recycle, repurpose, rot). Zero waste promotes a circular economy rather than a consumer-driven throwaway society.
What I found over the years was that not only was living a zero-waste lifestyle easy to do, but it also helped me clear my mind in ways I hadn’t expected. For instance:
1. Only buy clothes when you need them.
I would only buy my favorite pair. I also started doing more thrift shopping as buying everything new didn’t make sense.
The obvious one is you preserve natural resources by choosing second hand. After a little bit of pushing myself to do it (I always believed it was dirty), I have managed to find some lovely gems that I value now more than my newly purchased clothes.
Poshmark is one of many apps that I use for thrift shopping.
2. Less clutter in the house
I had less clutter in the house, and not only was this freeing up my space in the home, but it also made a significant impact on my mind—fewer things to worry about.
Imagine that most of us start the day picking our clothes and wondering what to wear. This takes up decision-making space.
If you only have your favorite clothes, the decision becomes more accessible. People like Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg are/were almost always wearing the same clothes.
The Environmental Impact
The obvious one is the environmental impact our throw-away society has. Every day, the average American throws away 1.9 kg (4.4 pounds) of plastic waste. While the European throws away 1.4 kg per day.
In short, that is too much trash going to landfills.
And then we blame the third world countries for polluting our rivers and oceans although “we” the first world countries have shipped it over top in the first place and guess what, they don’t have a proper waste management system in place; hence our waste ends up causing water pollution and more.
Since moving to a more eco-friendly way of living, I noticed that what I was putting into my body also has changed. Mainly because I don’t get a lot of take-away food anymore since that means getting takeaway containers.
Yes, that means more cooking at home, but I am fortunate enough to have a wife who loves cooking. If you don’t check out cookieandkate for great recipes that even I can follow along.
Drinking Less Coffee
I drink less coffee, at least when I am not home. Since I don’t always have my KeepCup with me. And yes you might be thinking but why don’t you just use the paper takeaway cups?
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but they are actually plastic-lined and leaching chemicals into your coffee. Yuk. A hot coffee chemical soup.
Check out this article:
Zero Waste Community
Creating new zero waste communities with, like-minded people. Here are a few social media platforms where you can connect with fellow zero wasters.
Creating new jobs
Businesses are now looking more than ever to do their part by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions mainly by buying carbon credits.
This has many benefits for the business and the planet as consumers are more aware of the environmental impact we have on the planet.
During a survey, 96% of the consumers asked would prefer to buy products that conserve natural resources and reduce the use of fossil fuels. Green Business is the future and if you have a business and wonder how you can take action this article will help.
In Futerra’s new survey of over 1,000 consumers in the USA and UK, we discovered that 96% of people feel their own actions, such as donating, recycling or buying ethically, can make a difference. And over half believe that they personally can make a big difference.
What is the Zero Waste Movement and why is it important?
The Zero waste movement is a movement promoting a low-waste lifestyle, breaking the unsustainable consumption of our society.
It is kind of like going back to the old ways. Most likely, if you ask your grandparents, they still have all the knowledge about canning and how to preserve food since food waste plays a significant role in going zero waste.
The zero waste movement can be traced back to 1970 when governments invested in reclaiming raw materials such as glass and aluminum. If you would like to learn more about this you can read this in-depth article at zerowaste.com here.
How do I start living the zero waste lifestyle?
What I have found to be the quickest way in adopting a zero-waste lifestyle, wasn’t by buying all the zero waste products that are being advertised to you because it is cool and trendy.
More by creating small changes week by week so as not to overwhelm you. Because let’s face it, if you want to do it all at once you are most likely not going to succeed and eventually throw in the towel and that is not what we want.
Often it breaks down to stop yourself from falling into old habits because it is easy. It may be easy to buy a takeaway meal, but the container it comes in will outlast you and your kids if you think about it. It will only break down into microplastic.
On top of that making, your own meal is rewarding, more healthy, and less wasteful. Yes, it takes a bit more time upfront and that is where most people shy off.
I did however manage even to bring a stainless steel container into a restaurant and they would fill it up for me.
Here are my tips to adopt a zero waste lifestyle quickly and with great success.
Do a trash audit
Identify where you create most of your trash by turning your bin upside down and seeing where most of your waste comes from.
Start cooking your own meals and eat less meat
I know you must be thinking now that he wants to turn me into a vegan. Not quite but meat production has a huge influence on releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from growing the animals to killing and transporting them around the globe.
Buy less packaged produce
Most supermarkets have a bulk food section or you can go to zero waste stores in your area. These can sometimes be more expensive as they don’t have the buying capacity like a massive food chain.
Bring your reusables. Check out EcoLunchbox for bento and lunchboxes.
Go to the farmer’s market
Just do it, you won’t regret it, I promise. Just make sure you bring your produce bags and get ready to meet and greet the people that actually grow your food. It’s fun.
Ride your bike
One of the easiest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to hop on your bike instead of using your petrol-guzzling 4-wheel machine. You will end up more fit as a side bonus.
Bring your reusable bags
Of course one of the zero waste strategies is to bring your reusable tote bags and other produce bags whenever you go shopping. The easiest way to remember is to just keep some in the car or on your bike. 🙂
Start a compost
Don’t let your food scraps go to waste. See if your food scraps end up in the bin they can’t add to a nutritious soil. They actually do the opposite as food waste is a big problem in landfills and it only contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions.
Choose to support ethical companies
Reuse items and get creative
Don’t fall for the recycling trap
I wrote more about that in the next section, but it isn’t working for the most part. It should be called wishcycling because most of it is being burned or dumped.
Using fewer products
Zero waste implements the 5R’s in order to slow our use of raw materials down. Learn about the 5R’s here.
Don’t flush the toilet when its just pee
I know right, this might seem a bit strange for some and personally, I was never a big fan of going to a toilet that already has something in it. But think about it; We flush perfectly good drinking water down the drain. This isn’t necessarily zero waste, but it makes sense to reduce our environmental impact.
Why is zero waste better than recycling?
I have to go on a little rant here since recycling seems to be the best solution to our waste problem, but that isn’t the case. Only 9 % worldwide is actually being recycled. The rest goes to landfill waste or gets incinerated.
It’s hard to believe, but from the research that I have done, recycling was invented so that big companies don’t have to deal with their own trash disposal and rather pass it on to the consumer. Clever right.
Now we have to be even more careful as a lot of companies changed their marketing strategies and often use terms like eco, green, or biodegradable in their products. This is called greenwashing and you can watch this little clip of me in action.
Does the zero waste lifestyle cost more money?
To give you a couple of examples I created this pretty table and hope that it will give you a better understanding
|Product||Cost||Lifecycle||Refill||Total Cost per year||Environmental Cost|
|Disposable Razor||21||1 blade = 2-3 weeks||12 blades = $50||121||forever in Landfill|
|Leaf Reusable Razor||80||1 blade = 2 weeks||100 blades = $10||82||100% recyclable|
How about toilet paper vs bidet? Remember at the beginning of the pandemic everyone went out and bought toilet paper.
The average American spends $123 on toilet paper and paper towels per year, according to Statista. A bidet cost you $100 and you end up using 80% less toilet paper. Grab the whisper bidet here and get free shipping on all domestic orders.
Plus, it is a lot more hygienic than toilet paper. Or when you get your hands dirty, do you use a piece of paper and wipe them clean? No, you wash them. Why don’t we do that for our butts too???
So there you have it. There are so many things we can do to contribute to a zero waste life and most often it just starts with learning about the health impacts plastic has and becoming aware of how we treat our bodies.
Zero waste doesn’t happen overnight but if you stick to it and slowly replace items that last longer and fade out the single plastic usage. Not only will your body thank you but the planet too.
If you ever need some more inspiration, sign up for my newsletter that I sporadically send out with tips and tricks and good news on how to be more zero waste.