12 Things You Should Know About Zero-Waste Living
AUGUST, 2023
By Paleni Iyer
As you may know, there are so many ways to help with the environmental crisis, from big to small ways. Zero-waste living goes hand-in-hand with a sustainable lifestyle, and the road is well worth it. Here are 12 things you should know about zero-waste living and how to get started.

What it means to go zero-waste:

“What happens when we throw away our trash? Why is plastic so bad? Is there a solution to the current climate crisis? Being sustainable seems quite hard.” These are common concerns that arise with eco-anxiety, but with a little bit of research, a willingness to change and determination we can all make a difference in our daily lives.

Zero-waste living is as its name suggests: not producing any waste. It is a way of life that aims to tread as lightly and leave as little negative impact on the environment as possible. This way of life used to be a reality for humans hundreds and thousands of years ago, when multiple cultures across the globe practised living in harmony with nature and where there was little to no contribution of harmful waste to the environment.

So much has changed since single-use plastics and packaging materials were introduced in the early 1900s. Human activity has been the leading cause of the decline of our planet’s natural resources, with mass production and over-consumption resulting in the degradation of natural ecosystems and resources.

However, the Zero-Waste initiative assists in tackling this problem. As the name suggests, you simply stop using, disposing and accumulating waste. There is simplicity when we return to how we used to live. We do not need to invest in something we do not even need, simply because it is cheaper. If we treat nature with respect and use resources sustainably, we will find that we already have all that we need.

5 Detrimental Effects Waste Has On the Environment

1. What goes around, comes around:  Did you know that every piece of toxic waste generated and disposed of, such as plastic, still exists on our planet today? This non-biodegradable waste is accumulated in landfills or ends up littering our waterways, suffocating and poisoning our planet. Non-biodegradable toxins and microplastics seep into our soil, water sources, our crops or are ingested by animals. This then eventually finds its way into our food and drinks.

2. Landfills are harmful to people: Many countries collect a massive amount of waste for dumping in landfill sites. Some developed countries pay developing countries to take their waste and store it in one of their own landfill sites. For those living close to these landfill sites, the effects of this waste’s pollution (air, soil, and water) affect their physical health drastically.

3. Wildlife is affected by the continuous flow of waste: Overflow of waste from landfills and improper extraction of waste travels to the sea, only to trap marine life, or get ingested when mistakenly identified as a meal, endangering countless species and negatively affecting the natural ecosystem. Our wildlife on land also receives a handful, well tonnes and tonnes of waste, that is dumped into their natural habitats. This, of course, impacts their health and endangers them as well.

4. Carbon emissions have a massive impact: From car fumes, factory pollution and mass production, emissions of dangerous gasses take place. Problems such as global warming and climate change arise when most countries are not equipped to deal with or are prepared for such matters.

5. Microplastics are affecting human life: From the moment we wake up till the second we fall asleep, humans are impacted by microplastics. They are found in the air we breathe, the products we use and even in the food we eat.  In 2022, microplastics were even discovered in human blood cells.

4 Benefits of a Zero-waste Lifestyle:

The benefits of zero-waste living are rich and bountiful! Here are some ways zero-waste living can be good for you.

1. No more trashy business, because it won’t be there! The idea of not having trashcans around your living space filled with displeasing dirt and unpleasant smells is possible. Zero-waste means absolutely no waste at all, you do not need to put yourself through the process of taking out giant bags of trash every couple of days and have smelly bins outside your home. You could be an individual who successfully produces up to only one jar of waste a year!

2. Reducing waste reduces stress. Many health conditions humans experience are caused by stress that is developed through external factors.  Elimination of certain items that aren’t needed creates a minimalist environment and simultaneously clears your mind. Zero-waste is also believed to be a strong way to help combat eco-anxiety. With a zero-waste lifestyle, an immense amount of stress is relieved

3. Double the Savings. No more spending an excess amount of money on meaningless single-use items or plastic products that wear easily over time. While trying to stick to re-usable products you have your money’s worth while you are making the planet a better place to live in. Do check out the easy long-lasting swaps you could do below!

4. No pain and gain. It is easy! Unlike other methods and efforts to lead an eco-friendly way of living (renewable energy, sustainable travel, etc), the only tricky part of the zero-waste process is that you’ll have to transition into a new routine. The process is simpler than you may think. The entire concept of zero-waste is to simplify, reduce and minimize waste, which I think minimizes problems while creating simplicity.


3 Steps To Take Towards a Zero-Waste Lifestyle:

Welcome to the pathway that will help you to declutter your mind and living space, and help the preservation of the natural environment. One simple change does make an ample difference, here are three:

1) Smile! It is unbelievable the amount of toothbrushes an individual uses in a lifetime, (300). That is a lot of plastic pollution from one person alone. You can change that amount today by swapping your plastic toothbrush for an eco-friendly material such as bamboo, wood and compostable materials. You could also change your toothpaste to one that is free from microplastics and safer for your gums! Better yet, you could try and make your own if you have access to all the natural ingredients.

2) Refilling makes you cooler. Using single-use plastic bottles when outdoors is not cool, the production of it emits dangerous gasses and so much more. Investing in a flask or a  reusable water bottle (instead of purchasing plastic water bottles every time you’re out) will last you years to come, and keep your drinks nice and cool or comforting and warm for long hours!  Even more, by simply using a reusable cup when buying your coffee, you could save 500 single-use cups in a year. 
3) Wear, don’t tear: 

The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe.” – Orsola de Castro, actor. 

The fast fashion industry is not helping with the current environmental crisis, but you can. Choosing a product with less environmental impact isn’t hard but saying no to the ones that pollute, destroy, burn and poison Mother Nature is. Fast fashion can be avoided, by shopping sustainably and taking great care of our clothes, such as giving them new life and making them last longer.

Okay, I know, it is easier said than done, but small steps make for a big difference. This may be a lot for someone to take in, especially if this is new. That’s alright, I did not even know much about zero-waste myself until very recently. It will be a unique journey and a long road, but once you see how clean and green the future can be, it will spur you on. There is so much joy that comes when you know that your actions are a part of the solution, not the pollution.

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