What am I on about?
Two years ago I watched a video about a girl who can fit two years worth of trash in a mason jar. Yep. I know. Needless to say, I was shocked and quick to declare how I could never do it and how it’s completely unrealistic and unattainable.
Though a zero-waste lifestyle might be the ideal, it can seem intimidating. We immediately assume it’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice. Whilst a zero-waste lifestyle is hard, at least in my opinion, there are still a lot of small things we can do to eliminate a lot of our waste. The first steps would be to try to eliminate single-use plastics (water bottles, straws, plastic bags, muesli and chocolate wraps, takeaway coffee cups, takeaway food containers).
Why is plastic an issue?
The main problem with plastic – besides there being so much of it – is that it doesn’t biodegrade. No natural process can break it down. It destroys marine and other wildlife. Along the way it will degrade into smaller and smaller pieces called “microplastics”, a material that has lately been working its way into the food chain. They’re never actually disappear at all, meaning that ever single piece of plastic that’s ever been made is still in existence!
Plastic bottles are made from a petroleum product known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and they require huge amounts of fossil fuels to both make and transport them. If you fill a plastic bottle with liquid so that it is 25% full, that’s roughly how much oil it took to make the bottle. For a single-use disposable item, that’s a lot.
Watch this video for a summary!
So what can I do?
The following are really simple steps to take and kick off producing less waste!
I am nowhere near perfect, and still have to take a lot of these steps myself, but let this serve as an inspiration to all of us.
- Use handkerchiefs instead of tissues.
- Have a couple of canvas bags always folded in your bag in case you go shopping spontaneously.
- Ditch straws. If you can, get a reusable one. If not, then hey… they’re not THAT important.
- Ditch disposable coffee cups. Buy a reusable coffee cup, or just use a mason jar! Read more about the environmental danger of disposable coffee cups here.
- Buy a reusable water bottle!
- Bring your own cutlery in a bag, so you don’t have to use single-use plastic cutlery.
Cool, I am already doing a lot of these, what else can I do?
- Make your own beauty products! Did you know you can make your own toothpaste with just three ingredients?
- If you can, compost your food scraps. If not, try to reuse them for veggie stocks.
- Wrap your food in cotton cloths when freezing. Use reusable containers instead of cling film when placing food in the fridge.
- Use loose tea and a strainer instead of tea bags.
- Buy in bulk and buy loose produce instead of pre-packaged food.
- Make your own sauces and jams.
- Make your own granola, fruit and chocolate bars.
- Buy second-hand.
- Girls: menstrual cups.
- Consume less.
Life without waste and plastic is very difficult, especially if you live in a big city. Yes, there are people out there who are doing it, and they’re incredibly inspirational, but don’t give up just because you can’t be perfect at the moment.
Our hunger for convenience has gone out of control. However, if we all do our best to live with as little waste as possible – starting with the easy steps – maybe we can reverse and remedy some of the damage. Aiming to live a low-waste and low-carbon life is something you can start today. Every action counts.