Zero waste for Beginners
Zero Waste for Beginners
Romantically put, zero waste is an art of living without creating trash thus saving the Planet.
It is a set of principles that guides us in changing our lifestyles and practices; helps us be mindful about what we make, consumes and dispose; and adopt a more minimalistic approach to living.
The goal is to conserve all resources, responsible production, consumption, reuse of all products, packaging, and materials, without sending it to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.
And while it might sound hard and like extra work, the more you learn about it and adopt new eco habits - the easier it becomes. Eventually, the idea of grabbing a plastic bag or water bottle will seem weird and unpleasant even. So, where do we start?
Labeled the "Priestess of Waste-Free Living" by The New York Times, Bea Johnson, zero waste pioneer, blogger and author (we do recommend to read her book “Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life” or watch her videos on TEDtalks and Youtube), introduced her “Five R’s”, in order:
Refuse what you do not need.
Reduce what you do need.
Reuse by using reusables.
Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse.
Rot (compost) the rest.
Sounds pretty simple, isn’t it? Also, we love how much zero waste and minimalism are connected: you starting to be more mindful of what you buy and understand what you really need, thus surrounding yourself only with beautiful things that make you happy. And endless plastic in grocery stores, disposable cups from coffee shops, a bunch of waste from takeout orders, junk mail - are not on the list. So refuse! Say loud and clear “NO” to disposables.
Reducing what you have is extremely rewarding. First, after going through all rooms and shelves at your home and a good declutter you will feel amazing and light! Second, stuff that you no longer need and donated to your local thrift store will be a great find for someone else. It’s a win-win.
We do have an article here on Ecophant about our favorite reusable things, which you can also conveniently find in our store. So swap those plastic water bottles, cups, bags for glass, stainless steel, cotton stylish alternatives!
Recycling should always be the last resort! Luckily, when you adopt refuse, reduce, reuse principles - it will drastically minimize the need of recycling, since you already creating much less waste.
And lastly, educate yourself about what is compostable and create a system that works for your home. We will have a separate article about it, too.
Of course, zero waste does not happen overnight, it is a journey. But keeping these “5R’s” in mind while shopping for groceries, home or clothes is already making big changes in your everyday habits.
Want more tips? There are some easy steps you can take to ease into zero waste lifestyle:
- Give some extra time to your bathroom cabinet and shower. Read all the labels and get rid of products with harmful ingredients, such as triclosan, formaldehyde, ammonia, phthalates, and parabens. They are everywhere from beauty products to antibacterial soaps and extremely dangerous if you expose yourself to it on a daily basis. So do yourself a favor and ditch these kinds of products immediately.
- Restock with eco-friendly options: solid shampoo and conditioner, a cleansing bar, bamboo brush, bamboo makeup pads, safety razor. Do not forget about the menstrual cup, too. These items are usually created with fair trade, clean ingredients that are safe for you and the Planet. Most of these items are biodegradable, too.
- Buy secondhand. It’s amazing how much money and resources we can save if we opt for vintage clothing, used books, electronics, or even beautiful furniture pieces! And of course, do not forget to donate everything you don’t already use - declutter often and share good things with others.
- Eat clean. Try to minimize packaged, processed foods and choose fresh fruits, vegetables, preferably locally and sustainably grown. Not only it is healthier for you, but it also helps the environment. A great tip for reducing food waste - make a list of what you need to buy and stick to it. It’s also better not to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach :) And whenever possible - buy local produce at farmers markets.
- Reduce the amount of paper you bring in your home by switching to paperless: bills, notes, mail or books. If you can’t switch paper towels to regular cotton cloth - try to buy the one that is made from recycled paper. The same goes to toilet paper and napkins.
- Support eco-friendly, sustainable stores. These companies, Ecophant included, are aiming to create a better, cleaner shopping experience by selecting the best sustainable products for you and your home. Your choice - is a vote. Always vote for what is healthier and better for the Planet. Check out our store for some amazing eco products and be the change!