A zero-waste lifestyle involves conserving all resources, including the production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, materials, and packaging.
It also concerns not sending disposable products to landfills that pollute the environment. However, achieving a totally zero waste lifestyle is almost impossible. However, you can get pretty close. Today we’ll discuss various ways to achieve zero waste at home.
How to Achieve Zero Waste at Home – The 5 R’s
You may have heard of the three Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle. However, there are two more Rs – refuse and rot.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle is something that you probably grew up with as a child. However, things change, and so has this methodology. Therefore, these five Rs are essential for achieving zero waste at home.
Moreover, the order in which they are executed also makes a difference. So let’s look at each of the five Rs and the order they should be in.
The first point is that you should refuse anything and everything you don’t need. The simple reality is that our world is based on capitalism and consumerism, geared toward selling to you whether you need it.
However, rise above this and stop mindless consumerism. Instead, only buy things you need to survive. There are plenty of luxuries, but they’re not necessities.
Of course, you will want to buy some luxuries now and then, but you limit the amount and don’t buy things you don’t need.
You need things; however, you can still reduce the number of products you purchase.
Are one or two plates enough for you, or do you need to buy a whole dinner set? If you’re single, likely, you’ll never have use for more than a couple of plates. This is just one example of what we mean by reducing.
When it comes to reducing your impact on the world, more factors are involved than your purchases. For example, taking a half-hour hot shower may be soothing, but it’s also wasteful. You can’t always refuse certain things, but you can reduce your impact.
The following “R” is to reuse: Anything you can reuse should be. Use reusable grocery bags, water bottles, Tupperware, and more. The more materials you can reuse, the less waste you will create.
This means less garbage that ends up in landfills. It also means that fewer raw materials have to be extracted from the ground and processed into those goods. Moreover, some things that are technically disposable can be reused. For example, there’s no reason why you can’t buy a disposable water bottle and then refill it yourself. But, of course, it is much better if you get a reusable water bottle. The bottom line is that the more materials you reuse, the less waste you create.
Rot is one of the new Rs added to the list. In this case, we’re talking about composting. Although food is not the worst thing that can end up in a landfill, in some cases, it can leach chemicals into the ground. There’s also a risk of landfill fires occurring.
Anything that will rot or biodegrade is ideal for a compost pile. Composted food can then be used as fertilizer for your own garden.
In addition, also try to buy biodegradable materials, which are much better than recyclable. This brings us to our next point, the final R on the list.
Many people see recycling as the be-all and end-all of environmental friendliness. However, this is not necessarily the case. Refuse, reduce, reuse, and rot should all be attempted before recycling.
While recycling is better than throwing things in the garbage, it’s still not great. Recycling still requires energy and resources to accomplish. Yes, recycling old plastic into new plastic is better than refining oil into plastic.
That said, buy and use items that have already been recycled. In addition, look for products that you can then recycle yourself instead of throwing into the garbage. Again, the less waste in the landfill, the better off our world is.
Some Actionable Tips
We have discussed practices behind achieving a zero-waste lifestyle at home. However, we now want to give you some actionable real-life tips.
- Always use dishware and cutlery. There is absolutely no point in using disposable cutlery, plates, or cups. They’re expensive, and they’re wasteful.
- When it comes to being on the go, a reusable coffee container works. Stop going to your local coffee shop and buying coffee in a disposable cup.
- It’s always much better for the environment and more cost-effective to make your own coffee or tea. Consider that you have to use transportation to get to a coffee shop. Those coffee shops generally also aren’t overly environmentally friendly either.
- Cut down on your food waste. Most houses waste anywhere between 10% to 40% of the food they purchase. Producing food is also taxing on the environment, so buy only what you can eat and only cook what you can eat in a single sitting.
- There’s no point in using disposable shopping bags that you have to buy at the store. So instead, spend a few dollars to purchase reusable grocery shopping bags.
- Instead of using disposable napkins and paper towels, use reusable towels and cloths. It’s much cheaper and more environmentally friendly to wash a towel when needed.
- Avoid using tin foil or cling wrap. Whether metal or plastic, they are horrible for the environment. There’s no reason you cannot use reusable and recycled containers. In addition, using plastic sandwich bags is also a big no-no.
- Pay attention to the cleaning products you use. This can include dish soap, laundry detergent, or anything else. There are many zero-waste cleaners you can purchase. Even better is if you use natural cleaning products. Pro tip: Both vinegar and baking soda are great honest cleaners.
- When it comes to the bathroom, you always want to go for recycled toilet paper.
- In addition, never use disposable razors. Safety and straight razors can be used for years.
- There are far more environmentally friendly feminine e hygiene products than pads and tampons for all of you ladies.
- With anything you do buy, make sure that packaging is minimal. There are too many things packaged in various layers of plastic. The less packaging, the less waste you are producing.
The Bottom Line
Achieving a 100% zero-waste lifestyle is more or less impossible in today’s world, but you can get close. The above list of tips is not nearly exhaustive, but we feel that we have covered the most important ones.