Adapting to a zero-waste lifestyle feels like a pretty big ask. With so much destruction on our hands, creating a zero-waste home feels like a drop in the ocean. But if everyone started investing in a zero-waste lifestyle, then we could all play our part in making a difference. Your drop in the ocean could actually make a big splash, and the ripple effect will raise awareness for others to do the same thing.
In case zero-waste is completely new to you, then here’s what it means. Living zero-waste refers to someone who uses as minimum single-use plastic as possible in their daily lives, finding alternatives to replace plastic and other disposable materials.
The reason to reduce your plastic consumption is to stop waste from ending up in landfills, which produce potent greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. Toxic substances can also spread into the land and water over time, which can contaminate our soil and water supply. Being more sustainable is crucial to living zero-waste.
The 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
The best way to start your zero-waste journey is by following the 3 Rs; Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – a phrase we love here at Frecycle. Reduce refers to reducing the amount of waste in your home. Reuse means to reuse what you already have as much as you can, while recycling means to recycle any waste that you do have left, so it can be made into another product.
If you want to take it one step further, you can even adapt the 5Rs, which include Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. Refuse the things you don’t need to eliminate any unnecessary packaging. This also helps raise awareness to businesses, reducing the demand for plastic packaging and asking them to make better sustainability choices.
Rot means to let your leftover food and any other compostable items to rot by composting. This way, the waste can rot properly instead of ending up in landfills whilst being beneficial to the soil.
Sometimes Repurposing is used in this hierarchy too. While reuse usually means using products that can be reused time and time again, repurposing considers the things you already have and finds ways to give them a new life as something else. This is sometimes known as upcycling.
Find Zero-Waste Alternatives
For every disposable item you own, there is a zero-waste alternative. Swapping out plastic bottles for a refillable water bottle is just one example of making small changes. As zero-waste products focus on using as little waste as possible, no excess packaging is involved, and if there is, it’s compostable or reusable. Not only are simple swaps important for the planet, but their benefits go beyond the environment.
Buying reusable products is a cheaper alternative because we can continually reuse them, rather than throwing it away after just one use. This means the products are often of better quality and will last you a long time, preventing you from continually buying and replacing.
Obvious zero-waste products, like reusable coffee cups and shopping bags, are a great place to start, but why not try swapping products like your shampoo and shower gel? Choose shampoo and soap bars, try toothpaste tablets or powder, and use reusable menstrual products instead of disposable ones. Swap your loo roll for 100% recycled toilet paper packaged in paper (like the brand Who Gives a Crap), which helps stop 27,000 trees from being cut down every day.
Your zero-waste swaps even apply to clothing. Don’t buy brand new, shop second hand. Start buying second hand, either in vintage and charity shops or through online apps like Depop and eBay. If you have a special occasion, why not rent your outfit instead? Better yet, do a clothes swap with your friends.
Phase Out Your Products
When starting your zero-waste journey, it can be easy to fall into the trap of throwing away what you have and starting fresh with new zero-waste alternatives. But don’t buy new alternative products straight away, this is just as wasteful.
Use up the products you already have, and when you’re finished with them, recycle the packaging, and then invest in alternatives. While you’re using up what’s left of your current products, start researching zero-waste alternatives that will work best for you. A zero-waste lifestyle requires patience, from using up what you have and finding a favourite alternative to consulting the 3Rs to make sure it’s something you really need.
We know changing habits isn’t always easy, but the more we keep ourselves educated and raise awareness for others, the easier it will become. We want to help your zero-waste journey, and recycling is what we do best. Download our app today and see how we can be a part of your recycling process, bringing you one step closer to a zero-waste lifestyle.