Did you know that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash every day? Now multiply that number by the entire population. It comes to more than 254 million tons of waste a year. Horrifying!
There must be something we can do. However, effective change takes time. We can't change the world in a snap, but we can improve our routines slowly over time to be more environmentally friendly.
What is zero-waste?
The zero-waste philosophy of living advocates for reusing each product in your home and eliminating from your life those which can't be reused. The ultimate goal is to produce zero trash daily, thus significantly reducing your environmental footprint.
Once you start thinking about it, zero waste seems impossible, considering how many disposable products you use in a day. However, it's not that complicated.
Tips for beginners
If you're considering trying this lifestyle, here are our top tips to help you make the transition.
1. Define your 'why.'
Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle is a big commitment. You need to define your reason for this change, to keep you going when the process seems challenging.
WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES?
If you care about the environment, use this as your anchor for going the zero-waste route. Every day there's another news item about heaps of garbage in landfills, oceans, and rivers. Cutting down on the waste you produce is your contribution to reducing the trash in the environment.
MORE REASONS TO GO ZERO-WASTE…
The two main ways of disposing of trash are incineration or dumping in landfills. Burning trash releases tremendous amounts of CO2 and harmful chemicals into the air that remain in the atmosphere. These toxic substances increase the greenhouse gas effect and, in turn, climate change.
Landfills emit toxic gases into the air and contaminate the groundwater.
These days, trash is also a political and social issue. Most landfills are located near lower-income housing. People in the lower socio-economic classes suffer from the effects of landfill contamination more than the wealthy population.
Adopting a zero-waste lifestyle contributes to lessening the problem.
2. Assess your waste
The most effective way to cut down your waste is to look at your overall consumption. Keep a log for a few days to track all the trash you throw away. Once you have a big picture of your waste habits, it's easier to break down your consumption into days and weeks.
WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR WASTE?
Tracking your waste production helps you see what the bulk of it is- -takeout packaging, plastic water bottles, leftover food, etc.
When you determine the most significant waste producer in your life, you can easily work towards eliminating that first. Getting rid of the other sources of waste won't be as hard after that.
TACKLING TO-GO WASTE
In today's fast-paced world, the 'to-go' philosophy dominates much of our lives. Especially when it comes to food. Why sit down for a meal at a restaurant when you can get it to go? Unfortunately, most establishments use plastic packaging for their take away meals.
How about carrying reusable glass containers for packing meals on those hectic days? Also, make time for meals and reduce takeout. You'll be surprised how much you can do without takeout!
3. One step at a time
If you attempt to overhaul your life all at once, you might get overwhelmed and quit. Zero-waste living is a lifelong change. Easing yourself into it is a better approach.
We recommend replacing items as they run out. For instance, when you run out of paper towels, buy some cloth towels. When you've thrown out all your plastic bags, buy glass jars for storing food items.
4. Ditch the plastic
Plastic is a huge waste menace, so much so that in the next few years, we'll have more of it in the oceans than fish. Apart from glass jars, another thing you can do to eliminate single-use plastic is to carry a bag when going shopping. Use one made of environmentally-friendly material such as wicker, hyacinth, cotton, etc.
5. Reduce food waste
This step forces you to think critically about every piece of food you throw away. You get more creative with your cooking by reusing leftovers and peels.
Drawing up and following meal plans are an excellent way to cut down on food waste. Properly portioning out your food will help reduce leftovers.
Reuse any leftovers in your next meal, or turn them into compost. However, note that composting requires lots of time and energy.
You can also eliminate food waste by shopping for the next two meals you plan to cook. Buying in bulk encourages waste since we throw away lots of expired food.
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team