Zero Waste, Zero Problem

Today I would like to tell about one thing which has been on my mind for a very long time. It really makes me think that each of us can have a real impact on helping our environment. This is a zero-waste lifestyle. So many times in my life, I have heard things like: “One person can’t change the world” or “It doesn’t matter if one person recycles or not”. And to these things I always have one response, taking the form of my favorite quotes:

Be the change you want to see in the world
— Mahatma Gandhi

This change was firstly inspired by two TED talks I watched on YouTube, which have completely changed my point of view. I would really recommend you watch them. 

I am so inspired and excited that I can do something so simple for this world and live in alignment with my beliefs. Now I am preparing myself for a zero-waste challenge starting in September. I’ll give you some information below and hopefully you’ll think about joining me.

What is the zero-waste lifestyle?

The zero-waste lifestyle is basically not sending anything to the landfill. This is very simple and natural; however, it’s necessary to be prepared. So how am I going to do it in September?

In my opinion, small but systematic steps will be easier, because changing your lifestyle is quite a big thing to achieve. To reduce our waste, we need to understand what it is first. In most cases, the biggest part of our waste is food packaging, product packaging and organic waste. So how do we deal with them?

The zero-waste lifestyle has five basic rules:

1.     Refuse
You refuse all things you don’t need to purchase. Do you really need to take that pen from your company event? Do you really need to get that Lidl weekly magazine? This is also about the junk mail or any free samples we accept. Start saying “no” to unnecessary production.

2.     Reduce
You reduce what you already have. I am sure you are aware that we don’t need 90% of things we have at home. Take peace of mind from the minimalist style! In doing this, it is easier to focus on the quality instead of the quantity of the things we have.

3.     Reuse
Use reusable and sustainable alternatives such as material bags, glass jars, metal bottles and cutlery, and wooden cleaning products. Reusing is also about buying second-hand. You don’t put new products into the waste cycle when you buy in charity shops or eBay. Second-hand is a great money saver as well!

4.     Recycle
Recycle only what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse. The zero-waste lifestyle calls for you to recycle fewer products more often. In addition, using better materials such as glass, metal, cardboard, paper has a lower impact on the environment.

5.     Rot
Learn how to compost fruit, vegetables and floor sweepings correctly.

I am going to take it easy for the first few months and then introduce more rules. Start with small steps - maybe buy a reusable bag? Or maybe if you're creative you could start by making your own cosmetics? I am starting with packaging, and here's my advice:

Food packaging:

a)     Learn how to shop in bulk: all you need is reusable bags and containers for food. You will also need to find zero-waste shops nearby, where you can take your own containers and buy flour, rice, cereal, pasta etc in bulk. It also saves money because you don’t pay for the packaging when you buy in this way!

Products available from:

Products available from:

b)     Buy package-free. Only choose products that don't come in packaging. There are still lots of fruits and vegetables packaged in plastic, but fortunately this is changing. Recently, Aldi and Lidl introduced packaged-free bananas and Sainsbury does almost half of the vegetables package-free.

c)     Click here to find the best zero-waste stores in the UK, such as New Leaf Co-op in Edinburgh or Locavore in Glasgow. I recommend using it to look for places near you - there could be one right next door and you've never known!

Product packaging

Product packaging is a bigger problem because the products we use every day - cosmetics, toothpaste, cleaning products - are all packaged in plastic. The only way to deal with it is to learn how to make your own, which requires our sacrifice and time. However, it also has big benefits for your health and body, because it is purely up to you what you put in these products to make sure they aren't chemical or harmful.

Small steps make a big difference. Just go forward and think naturally.