Everyone’s Talking About Zero Waste, But How Do We Practice It?
by Jasmine Buligis. |
The concept of ‘zero waste’ sounds self-explanatory, but what does it comprise of, exactly? Essentially, it’s a set of principles for waste prevention, which aims to ensure that all the waste products that we throw out are reused in some shape or form, whether it be in the same way, or with completely new functionality. At the same time, it guarantees that scarce resources are not wasted. As a community, we are encouraged to take steps towards a greener planet by integrating this policy into our daily lives. The question that remains is: how do we do that?
1. Eat a suitable portion of food
In a world abundant with cuisine choices to fit your cravings, it can be difficult to overpower your greed when it comes to dealing with your hunger. In the end, all of that scrumptious, uneaten food ends up in the trash. One way to control the amount of food that you eat is to assess your eating patterns. How much rice can you typically eat before feeling full?
Don't forget to take into account the different side dishes you're planning to consume: how much rice can you eat with half a chicken? Once you've gained a record of these habits, you can use them as guidelines for preparing your meals and for a buffet, so the amount of food wastage is kept to a minimum.
2. Start composting
If the previous tip didn't offer you much help, there's a way for you to give back to the environment! For those who have a passion for gardening, making compost out of food waste would be handy for you. What is compost and how is it made? Compost is a fertiliser formed by the decomposition of natural products, which provides the nutrients a plant needs to grow.
Foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggshells, meat, and grains should be placed together in a trough located in the shade. Sprinkle some water onto the compost and wait for it to rot away. This mixture then can be added to soil to enrich the growth of the greens in your backyard.
3. Make thrifting a habit
Thrifting, the act of purchasing used items, comes with many benefits. Although the idea of 'thrifting' may sound grisly to some ("Why should I buy someone else's used clothes?"), thrifting helps to reduce the number of decent-quality clothes being thrown out just because it doesn't fit someone's current fashion taste. This is vital as fashion is the second most polluting industry globally.
Therefore, buying items from your local thrift store not only saves you a ton of cash but also contributes towards a greener planet. You can also choose to sell your items to certain thrift stores to gain some income or exchange your clothes with others. Of course, make sure that they aren't tattered and torn like a witch's rags. So, declutter your closet, and you might accumulate a bundle of ‘trash’ that can be another person’s treasure!
4. Clean plastic items thoroughly
Everyone has heard of the mantra, ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Plastic is the world's biggest pollutant, making up 60% to 90% of all debris. However, how can we play our part in making sure our plastic waste ends up being recycled rather than in the landfills? Easy! Wash your plastic items thoroughly so that no impurities remain. This is crucial because recycling companies tend to dispose of plastic that contains remnants of food, mould, and dirt. Another step we can take is to remove all labels on items such as plastic milk cartons before sending them off to be recycled.
This allows the jobs recycling companies a lot less tedious and time-consuming, as the labels are usually made out of paper, which must be separated before the plastic is incinerated. Hence, doing this would ensure that all that plastic can be recycled and reused someday!
5. Support eco-friendly initiatives
Apart from conventional recycling companies, there are smaller organisations out there looking to produce a sustainable planet. The 'Precious Plastics' movement, for example, aims to promote entrepreneurship through plastic recycling. They provide open-source instructions and guides for people to build machinery that can transform used plastic into new products such as psychedelic table tops, bowls, keychains, and plastic sheets. T
his global community consists of individuals of all different nationalities and age-groups, including schools. If you're interested in joining in the fun, you can learn more about them here. Of course, do some research on other initiatives, such as ‘Earth Day’, and pitch in!
6. Reduce the consumption of single-use plastic
Probably one of the most heard-of initiatives taken by the public to play a part in reducing waste, but important nonetheless. Have you ever bought bottled mineral water even though there are unfinished ones at home? Have you ever used a plastic straw to drink something when you could have just drank it out of the cup instead? These are only two examples of the variety of single-use plastics that are used daily by millions, if not billions, of people across the globe. Plastic items such as bags, cutlery, bottles, and straws are the leading pollutant of the world.
Some steps you can take to live a zero-waste lifestyle is to bring a tote bag or reusable bag when shopping. This reduces the need for plastic bags to be redistributed and potentially strewn away in landfills. Besides that, switch to using reusable and refillable pens compared to throwing each pen out after its ink has run out. This is especially significant for those who constantly use pens for studies and during work. Attempt to abandon the use of certain single-use plastics and use more eco-friendly alternatives instead, such as metal straws and reusable water bottles.
7. Reduce electricity and water consumption
Waste does not only consist of material goods. Aim to take shorter showers and fix your leaky taps to save water. Even small initiatives like reusing water to wash plates or clean vegetables make a difference! Lastly, don't forget to switch off all electrical switches and appliances when not in use, and always look for no-energy alternatives to perform daily routines!
At the end of the day, practising zero waste is based on a belief for us to integrate as many of these little steps into our daily lives to help conserve the planet not only for ourselves, but also for our future generations. Even the smallest of acts can contribute towards a larger impact, so strive to maintain the principles of zero-waste throughout everything you do. Additionally, remember to ‘walk the talk’ by carrying out these simple tasks instead of just preaching about them.
Spread awareness about the vital role of this policy to your friends, family, and anybody within your social circles so that we, as a community, can work towards producing minimal amounts of waste, whether it be food, electricity, water, or resource wastage. Hence, this ensures that our combined efforts will allow our precious Earth to flourish, hopefully reducing the detrimental effects of climate change on our planet.
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