Having written before about low waste and zero waste here I figured it was a good idea to get back to basics. Part of a low waste lifestyle is following the Five Rs and having a couple of low waste hacks with you. Leading a low waste and sustainable life style does require some planning and life changes but it is attainable.
The Five Rs – refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, recycle
As children we all heard about reduce, reuse and recycle but now that we are in the twenty first century we can update this phrase with: refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, recycle and finally landfill. As you know some items, like plastic, can only be down cycled. Which results in a lower quality product. Plus recycling also uses a lot of resources and energy to be done. So what are your other options?
1. Go grocery shopping with a plan. This means bring your shopping list, reusable produce bags, jars/ containers and shopping bags. Try to take your time and really see what your options are. If you need to buy pickles, jam or nut butters try to choose ones with containers that can easily be reused. Buy flour and sugar in paper packages if not available in bulk.
2. Try to shop your closet. Does something need to be mended? Maybe you can refashion an item by changing the sleeves or hem? Have a fashion swap with friends or visit a local thrift or consignment store. There is no shame in shopping at a consignment store. You can even buy luxury goods second hand online! Just try to avoid fast fashion stores and shop with value and longevity in mind.
3. Keep things natural. Use natural fabrics like cotton, silk and wool instead of man made fabrics like polyester. Make your own facial products and cleaner (there are so many tutorials online).
4. Use up your food scraps. I wrote here about making my own broth but there other option like apple core vinegar or even composting your green scraps. If you don’t have a garden of your own maybe a friend would be happy to take them. Just ask around. Remember that greens like carrots tops and beet greens are edible. So it is also good to research some recipes. The results can be delicious.
5. Learn to make your own things. For example I make my own bread, oat milk and granola. Of course this is not always possible due to time constraints so then try to get bread in paper bags or bring your own. Get oat milk in recyclable or reusable containers and grab the granola in the bulk section. These are small hacks but they make a difference.
6. Reduce your carbon footprint by taking public transport, walking, riding your bike, carpooling and learning to do things in one trip. If you are able to try getting a more fuel efficient car and do some good for the environment and your bank balance.
7. Use the internet and social media. Though, in the case of zero and low waste and sometimes life in general, social media is a double edged sword; it is a great resource. There are some lovely articles about people’s journeys out there. Use them as inspiration. I quite liked this one from In Style. A bit ironic that it shows up in a magazine that shills consumerism and waste but it is a good step in the right direction. Just google “low waste” or “zero waste” and you will have so many resources at your finger tips.
Lastly I would like to remind you that this is a journey. The fact that you are researching how and what you can do to be more zero or low waste and acting is a step in the right direction. Sometimes we feel that if we are not doing something 100% then we are failing. I would like to challenge that mindset and remind you that by making small changes you ARE doing something good.
I would, of course, be happy to know what kind of changes you are making. Please share them below so that myself and other readers can learn and grow. Have a green day!