Zero Waste Essentials for every area of your Life + Home

Zero waste is one of the most common terms we find in conversations around sustainable living, but what is it? Can we really live in a household and produce zero waste? The simple answer is: yes, we can get there if we really try,  we can start by making small changes to our lifestyle and by taking one small step at a time. It takes time and effort, and what’s important is to embark on this journey more than fretting to achieve a zero waste lifestyle.

The concept of zero waste stems from the problem of non-biodegradable garbage that floods the world’s landfills. India itself produces millions of tonnes of garbage per year. On a per capita basis, an Indian produces an average of between 0.2 to 0.6 kilos of garbage every day. Developed countries like Canada and the US produce almost four times that amount on a daily average.

So, what can we do in our lives to ensure that we produce as little waste as we possibly can? Well, there’s quite a lot to do, such as knowing the right products to use and investing in them. We’re here to help you with that.

The 5 R’s: Principles of a Zero Waste Lifestyle

Starting your zero waste journey is simple, really. What you need to remember are the 5 R’s of clean living:

  1. Reuse

Reusing products that we buy instead of throwing them away when we’re done, something like giving your old clothes to your younger siblings and cousins. You don’t need to change the product too much to be able to reuse it.

  1. Reduce

Reducing the amount of waste you produce by being more careful about what you choose to consume.

  1. Recycle

Recycling is usually done by agencies – it requires breaking a product down to create something new with it. Paper is recyclable and can be turned into new products after treatment.

  1. Refuse

Refuse any purchase that involves single use plastic, thermocol or other non-biodegradable materials to ensure your own personal waste production is as low as possible.

  1. Repurpose

Repurposing is somewhere between reusing and recycling, where creating something new out of a product doesn’t really require a treatment centre and can be done at home. Something like taking an old pair of jeans and converting it into a denim bolero jacket.

Super Colourful Mini Wallet Stitched with
Smaller Patches of Cloth by Upcyclie

Aim to reduce the amount of waste produced at home by buying reusable products instead of those that need to be thrown away after you’ve finished using them. Alternatively, buy products that are reusable and recyclable. Something that would otherwise come out of your home through the garbage, like a torn pair of jeans, can very easily be repurposed elsewhere. Most importantly, refuse products packaged in non-biodegradable materials like plastic, or products that you know you’ll only use very few times.

At Home

Think about where the most waste is produced in your household – its usually the kitchen. Whether it’s natural waste like vegetable peels and wasted food, or packaging that food comes in when you order from a restaurant, kitchen waste in a household is always quite heavy. Not to mention that the garbage bags we generally use are also made of plastic.

Aim to restrict the waste produced at home by:

  • Buying as few products in unsustainable packaging as you can
  • Opting for paper bags or carrying your own bags to stores instead of using plastic ones is useful, too
  • You could even head over to restaurants and pick up food in your own containers instead of ordering in plastic ones
  • opt for refillable products and enquire about such services being offered in your communities
  • Composting your food waste and other biodegradable waste
  • Buying loose powder, grains, tea leaves, etc. from stores instead of weighted packets

Organic Cardamom Tea by Palar Tea

  • Reusing jugs, jars, bottles, cans and other containers to plant saplings, use as pen stands or to store small objects like paper clips, erasers, hair pins/scrunchies, etc.
  • Serving only as much as you can eat on your plate at meal times to prevent wasting food

Personal Care

Here’s another place where we inadvertently end up creating a lot of waste – in our bathrooms with our personal care products. Everything you buy, from soaps to shampoos to lotions and so on, all come in plastic bottles, generally also covered in a plastic covering. This is one example, but there’s more.

Here are a few ways in which you can create a zero waste space with your personal care products:

  • Purchase soap and shampoo bars or jars that come in sustainable packaging instead of buying bath gels and other products in plastic bottles or tubes

Rose Geranium Soap by Kaisori

  • Alternatively, if you do buy these plastic products, try to reuse or repurpose them to the best of your abilities

Juniper Berry Face Wash by Rustic Art Conscious Beauty

  • Bamboo care products instead of plastic – toothbrushes, hairbrushes, etc. all need to be replaced at some point. Bamboo ones are compostable and plastic ones are not, so the former can be turned into fertilizer while the latter will remain in a landfill for the next few hundred years

When Stepping Out

Living a zero waste life does not merely extend to the kinds of things you do at home, but also when you’re out and about. Any waste that you produce when you’re at a restaurant, at work, on vacation, even walking on the street, and more, adds to the amount of waste you personally produce. Here’s what you can do to create as little waste as possible when you’re not at home:

  • Always carry your own refillable water bottle so you don’t have to buy plastic water bottles if you get thirsty
  • Try to carry snacks from home to restrict you having to buy anything packaged in unsustainable material
  • Also carry your own cutlery so you don’t need to avail of disposable cutlery in case you’d like to pick up something to eat

Bamboo Cutlery Kit with Pouch by Back to Roots

  • Carrying your own container is always a good idea for packing and bringing food home

Sipper Cup (Anti Viral) by Agro Composites

  • Invest in a reusable coffee/tea sipper cup to use at cafes when getting your morning fill before work. This drastically reduces the amount of plastic waste you create with plastic sippers. Better yet, you could simply have coffee or tea before you leave the house!

Wrapping Up

If you think about it, maintaining a zero waste lifestyle is about being as conscious as possible in our everyday lives. It requires us to think creatively to upcycle what we already have in our homes and to be present in and mindful of our surroundings at any given point. All you need to remember are the 5 R’s; reduce, refuse, reuse, recycle & repurpose, and inculcate the same into the various areas of your life. There are a plethora of products available for you to look at and invest in to lead a life with zero waste (or even minimal waste). Once you start living a certain way, more cleanly, you won’t want to go back. It’s merely a matter of starting out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.