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Zero Waste - How Scary & Hard Is It?

Posted on 17 May 2018

We produce 300 million tonnes of plastic, & 50% of that is single-use items like bags, bottles, cups, straws & food packaging.

 

 

8 million tonnes of this plastic rubbish makes it into our oceans every single year. Put simply, imagine a garbage truck full of plastic rubbish being dumped into our oceans every single minute.

 

 

Living a zero waste lifestyle sounds scary ... but it simply means that living in such a way that reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfill (or winds up in the environment, usually our oceans).

 

It's all about everyday people, like you & I, dedicated to reducing our impact on the globe through more mindful, creative & resourceful choices.

 

Choosing to rid your life of plastic may seem pretty daunting to begin with, but thanks to the queen of zero waste - Bea Johnson - we've been given a simple guideline to follow:

 

 

REFUSE - what you don't need.

Say no to: single-use sources of plastic ... ie. bags, bottles, cups, cutlery & straws.

 

Takeaway Cups

Take your own coffee cup, or dine in. If you have to get takeaway, go 'lid-less'.

 

 

Straws

Avoid straws by drinking straight from containers but if you must use a straw then go for a stainless steel one that you keep in your bag - there's even a collapsable version on the market that's in a small container & attaches to your keyring.

 

 

Single-use Bottles

 

 

Rather than buying a bottle of water every time you're thirsty, ditch the plastic bottle for a reusable water bottle you can refill at bubblers or drinking fountains. 

 

 

Single-use Plastic Bags & Packaging

Buy bulk & avoid individually wrapped snacks. Take your own reusable produce bags & grocery bags to do your grocery shop. Onya make produce bags (like the ones below) from recycled PET drinking bottles. Did you know that not all reusable bags are even in terms of carbon emissions & pollution? Cotton tote bags need to be used 327 times to break even, whereas paper bags only seven times & recycled polypropylene bags 26 times. 

 

 

If you need a little inspiration we have a great one - the String Shopper Bag. It starts out as a flat leather rectangle, & miraculously transforms into a bag for your shopping.

 

 

REDUCE - what you do need.

Here's a statistic for you: the average American home has 300,000 items in it. We're literally drowning in stuff. Decluttering not only clears up your home, but also your mind ... just make sure you declutter responsibly, & here's how:

Start small - choose one space at a time ... bit by bit.

Does this spark joy? - if the answer is no, dispose of it.

Support the secondhand market - sell, donate & re-gift.

Repurpose & upcycle - turn towels into cleaning clothes, or old sheets into a Halloween costume ... get creative (& if your creativity is lacking ... hit up Pinterest).

Precycle - before buying something, ask yourself, "Will I use this item more than once, will I use it a year from now?" Here's a great little diagram from our friends at Eco.Tortoises that might prove helpful in solving this dilemma. 

 

 

REUSE - what you consume.

Reuse items & their packaging as many times as you can. A great example of this is to keep the pretty ribbons from presents you get & reuse them on your next gift.

 

RECYCLE - what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse.

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of the little numbers in recycling symbols on the bottom of plastic bottles & containers? Well wonder no longer because those numbers are a 'Resin Identification Code' which tells you what kind of plastic resin the item is made from. These numbers are important; they tell us about the chemical composition, toxicity, & recyclability of the plastic. It's important to note that sometimes this recyclability isn't recyclable ... go figure! Here's a chart  that will help you easily get to the bottom of this recycling conundrum. 

 

 

ROT - everything else.

There are some amazing biodegradable products on the market from phone cases to toothbrushes ... so keep an eye out for these kinds of products. 

 

Take heart, it's about baby steps. We can all be changemakers ... & if we all make these small changes, they'll add up to a big change!

 

So, are you ready to join us on a zero waste journey?

 

By R'chelle Louwen & Kylie Banks

 

Information: @ecowithem, @eco.tortoises & goingzerowaste.com 

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