Author: Divya Kasarabada
Was reducing your waste one of your resolutions for 2022? Life happening put it on the back seat? Don’t worry, it’s never too late to start! Let’s begin with the basics.
What is “Zero Waste”?
Zero waste has been defined in several ways, but I’ll stick to the basic one: Zero waste means aiming to send nothing to the landfill by reducing what you use, reusing what you can, and recycling what’s left over. It’s usually used to describe personal and community changes that are helped and supported by bigger system change.
How My Zero Waste Journey Began
When I first began my own sustainability journey I heard the term “zero waste” floating around but I wasn’t super interested; I believed that what I was already doing was good enough. Then 2020 arrived. I was living in a shared student house, so when one of my housemates fell ill I had to quarantine alone in my bedroom. At the end of one week, as I took the trash out, I was appalled at how much waste I produced in just seven days all by myself. This big bag of trash made me realize how much of an impact my choices and consumption have on the planet. I took everything out and took note of what was most thrown away and listed the products on a sheet of paper and began to seek alternatives that were environmentally friendly.
This experience led me to take an online course on sustainable packaging which gave me a reality check and a systems perspective. I now understand that while individual change is great, we also need to push for systems change in order to help reduce waste as a society. And while I have not been perfect since I have come a long way! So without further ado, here are my four best tips with you to help you on your journey!
My Four Top Tips
1. Start Small
Reaching actual, literal ZERO WASTE is a mountain of a target. It is not possible to get there in a matter of days. It’s totally natural to get enthusiastic and want to change every facet of your lifestyle immediately when you get into it, but it’s best to take it slow.
So start by sitting down with a pen and paper or your favourite note-making app, and thinking about your waste. Identify the easy shifts that you can make considering your time, energy, and budget. It could be as simple as:
taking your own bag to the grocery store instead of purchasing a plastic one at the counter
buying less new clothes
making stock out of excess food cuts
Starting these small steps will help you to build momentum towards achieving sustainable change in the long term.
2. Counter Consumption
In an effort to go zero-waste, a new form of consumption has taken form today. With many sustainable brands on the market, it can be tempting to shop for a bamboo toothbrush or a pair of eco-friendly jeans or even vegan skincare products. But the idea of going zero waste is not to throw out what you already have and replace it with brand new sustainable products.
How about using your plastic toothbrush until it fizzled out? Or how about using the cutlery that you have at home before you replace it with bamboo? Or how about using your jeans until it gets worn out? Sounds reasonable?
3. Influence Away!
In these early stages of making this transition, it is no secret that social media can be a great source of inspiration. I began following sustainable influencers and zero waste pages on Instagram and it became a part of my daily scroll. It is a great way to learn something new even in seconds. I still find it very helpful!
Some of my favourite pages are:
Following pages like this can help you make switches you didn’t even know were possible. For example, recently I learned about period underwear. I already knew about period cups but was hesitant to try; this option sounds more attractive, doable and environmentally friendly. Thanks, zero waste inspo!
4. Go Local
When I began my journey towards a zero-waste lifestyle, I laughed at the idea that there could be local actors who imbibe the concept into their businesses. I was wrong. I ended up finding a local zero waste store very close to my home in fact! I encourage you to peek into your city and see what it has to offer to help you out!
In case you do not have a zero-waste store in your city, I am sure there are different ways you can own a zero-waste lifestyle! I hope these tips and tricks help you to begin your zero-waste lifestyle!
Divya is an independent sustainability writer platformed by ReGeneration 2030. If you want to join our open platform and share your articles or creative texts with our community, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.