Zero waste living Beginner’s Guide

Zero waste living for Beginners

Are you tired of watching videos on how trash affects our Environment, living species in the ocean, climatic conditions? So you’ve decided to take some action rather than just watching because watching them alone doesn’t change anything. Congratulations on being here because you’re the one who takes action for the better environment. Once, I’ve decided to go for zero waste living, I just had a look around my house. I was astounded by the fact that nearly 90% of the products which we’re using on the daily basis are either packed in plastic or we store our products (Ex: salt) in the plastic containers. I was overwhelmed because I wasn’t expecting these much of plastics around me.

So, I did some research on how people are going zero waste? Okay, first of all, what’s mean by Zero Waste Living?

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you.

Zero Waste Living: 

Zero Waste living is nothing but reducing the amount of trash to nil/zero or to a minimum level.

Is it possible to go for a zero-waste lifestyle?

The short answer to this question is No. The long answer is Yes, you can but it depends on many factors like

  • Where you’re living?
  • The products which you’re using,
  • your mindset

and so on.

If the locality in which you’re living supports you to go zero waste, then you can achieve it completely but still, it takes time to reach there.

Some people cannot go for an entire zero waste lifestyle due to the following reasons.

  • If you’re a person who is taking medications which cannot be avoided for sure comes with packing made of plastic.
  • When you don’t have any bulk stores nearby.
  • The country in which you’re living, where it’s quite difficult to attain zero waste lifestyle, it is absolutely fine. You can at least reduce your waste to a minimum amount by composting, reusing, recycling and reducing and trying to avoid the products which are not recyclable.

“We don’t need a handful of people doing Zero Waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

The question is are you ready?

Current Scenario: 

  • A developed country like the US tends to produce more trash. This is because of more processed food, lifestyle and many other factors ( It doesn’t mean that the other countries aren’t producing trash at all).
  • By 2050, the global trash will grow to 3.40 billion tonnes from 2.01 billion tonnes.

This results in:

CO2 emissions → Global warming → Affects our Mother Earth

So now, it is in our hands to save our Earth which gives lives to each one of us.

Things to keep in mind while going for zero waste living:

  • When you’ve decided to go Zero Waste, it is not wise to throw away all your plastics at once because it is contrary to our mission as well as all of us cannot afford all of those products (made from other materials) right away.
  • Zero Waste living cannot be attained immediately as I told you before. Even, I’ve not reached it yet but I’m trying to reduce the waste as much as possible.

Steps for leading a zero-waste lifestyle (For Beginners):

Step 1: Know your trash

The very first step you should take in order to reduce your trash is you must have a look at your trash can/ dust bin to know what kinds of trash you produce. From this, you’ll get an idea about the kind of trash you produce and you can take steps regarding it.

Step 2: Reuse

            Make sure to check once or twice before buying a new product i.e, try to reuse the products which you already own.

Step 3: Look for the alternatives

            Opt for the natural products which are home-made or package free or the package which can be reused or recycled or decomposed.

Toothbrush: Go for the bamboo brush instead of a plastic one which takes 400 years to decompose.

Toothpaste: Make your own toothpaste or powder since it comes in a plastic tube.

For Bathing: Either you can go for the gram flour (or) DIY Soaps.

Cosmetics: You can opt for organic products which are available in the market which comes with package free or packed with the recyclable ones. Or else, you can make on your own.

Clothes and footwear: Buy high-quality ones. Irrespective of their prices, they come for a long time so you no need to buy new ones frequently. You can even opt for second-hand clothes if it is available near you and if you’ve unused clothes, donate them.

[Interesting facts: In the UK alone, 46.7 billion worth of unused clothes are in the closet and the US alone produces 2.1 billion tons of waste on clothing annually.]

For Washing clothes and cleaning: Do it yourself.

Feminine Products: Use cloth napkins or try the menstrual cups.

Step 4: Kitchen

            Now, its time to get into your kitchen. Change all the plastic containers in your kitchen one by one and not all at a time as I told you before. You can store your groceries in the containers which are other than plastic like glass jars, stainless steel containers etc. It is wise not to store all your food in the plastics.

So, what do you do with all those plastic containers? You can adapt to the following.

  • You can sell or gift it to others (This is not like sending our trash to the others. You’re just preventing them from buying more plastics).
  • You can transform it into any other useful products.
  • Use those plastics for any other storage purpose other than storing your food.

Step 5: Essential items to be carried out with you whenever you leave the house

  • Pack your own lunch as much as possible.
  • Take a water bottle made of steel.
  • Carry a stainless steel straw and reusable mug for your coffee and juice instead of using disposable straws and cups.
  • Use your own handkerchief instead of using paper towels.
  • A steel box for the food take out and cutleries whenever you’re heading to eat out.
  • And to carry all of those things with you, use a reusable bag instead of a plastic one.

Step 6: Lookout while shopping for groceries

  • Buy everything in bulk as much as possible so this will keep you from throwing more trash which is more from the packing of the products usually comes in the plastic. This is because we are already producing millions of trash which are used for packing the products alone and this will also help you to save more money if you go for bulk options.
  • If you have got the zero-waste stores near you good for you. Take your own containers whenever you are buying from them.
  • Always choose the local farmers over the supermarket when you buy your fruits and vegetables. They’re not only fresh but also come with no packing. You can take your own reusable bags to buy from them.

Now, you got an outlook on how to manage the existing plastics at home and what to buy new and what to take with you in order to avoid producing more trash in the future.

Step 7: Compost

Make sure not to leave any leftovers. Cook as per your needs. If you’re unfortunately left with any leftovers you can turn it into something useful and take your kitchen scraps for composting. By composting, we can reduce nearly 70% of trash at our home.

Now, let us talk about the things which can/cannot be composted, recycled and reused.

Compost for a Zero waste lifestyle

Things can be composted:

  • Scraps from fruits and vegetables
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Toothpicks
  • Human and pet hair
  • Cotton fabrics
  • Paper
  • Cardboard boxes (make sure to peel the glossy paper)

Things cannot be composted:

  • Meat and Fish
  • Tea/ Coffee bags
  • Dairy products
  • Walnuts
  • Human and pets excreta

Recycle to avoid new ones

Things can be recycled:

  • Metals
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Running shoes

Things cannot be recycled:

  • Medical waste
  • Napkins and paper towels
  • Diapers
  • Coloured paper
  • Plastic bags (of course, at least not at home)
  • Disposable coffee cups

Reuse to reduce the trash

Things can be reused: 

  • Glass jars
  • Old clothes
  • Seeds
  • Old toothbrush
  • Old furniture
  • Dry plastic bags

Things cannot be reused:

  • Cardboard
  • Plastic bags which are wet

This list contains only a few items. There are a lot more to add.

Lifetime or decomposing period of each product:

            How long does a product take to decay completely? By looking at this table, you’ll get an idea on what to use and what to avoid in your daily life.

Aluminium can 200 years
Apple core 2-5 weeks
Banana peel 2-5 weeks
Battery 100 years
Canvas products 1 year
Cigarette 1-12 years
Cotton 1-5 months
Fishing lime 600 years
Glass 1 million years
Leather 50 years
Milk cartons 5 years
Nylon 30-40 years
Orange peels 2-5 weeks
Paper waste 2-4 weeks
Plastic bag 400 – 500 years
Plastic bottles 450 years
Plastic foam 50 years
Plywood 1-3 years
Rope 3-14 months
Rubber 50-80 years
Sanitary pads 500-800 years
Thread 3-4 months
Wool cloth 1-5 years
e-waste  1-2 million years

Statistics:

Look down the stats on the percentage of waste produced so far.

Household waste            –              1.3 billion tonnes/ year

Trash to the oceans        –              8 million tonnes/ year

Note: The stat is only based on the US.

Percentage on Global Solid Waste composition:

Organic                –              46%

Paper                    –              17%

Plastic                  –              10%

Glass                     –              5%

Metal                    –              4%

Other                    –              18%

If you think “It’ll not change anything if I alone go for Zero Waste Living” just make sure to look at this stat which is given below

Total trash produced/person   –   4.40 pounds/day

So, it says if you alone go for this Zero Waste Movement, you can able to prevent from producing 1606 pounds of trash per year. Sounds cool right? You cannot change the world but you can make a difference as a single human being.

Conclusion:

Don’t confuse the zero waste movement with the plastic-free movement because we cannot live entirely without plastic and this video will explain it.

One most important thing, don’t try to be perfect, if you do so, you’ll quit soon.

Remember, if you reduce at least 1% of the trash, you’re succeeded.

Going zero waste means not only taking care of your own home rather treating this whole world as your own home. Don’t be disappointed if you couldn’t entirely go for Zero Waste. It takes time. In the beginning, it may be quite difficult to follow these steps regularly since it requires little extra work but everything takes practice. Then you’ll be used to it like any of your daily rituals and as a result, we can save money on the way more than we think, we’ll adapt the new healthy mindset and habits and keep this one thing in your mind

“We’ve taken everything from our Mother Earth, it’s our time to give it back” –   Me (lol)

So, we can adapt to this new life for our Mother Earth. Stop blaming our society and the government. Let’s join together to take the responsibilities on our hands and do it our self and spread the positivity.

Share your views on Zero waste living.

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