The “zero” in the term zero waste lifestyle may make it sound unappealing and unattainable, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A waste-free lifestyle is not simply better for our environment; it helps you save money, live a simpler life, and potentially improve your health.
Some people tend to refer to it as a low waste lifestyle, as it is very challenging to create no waste at all. But you can start your journey by adopting a few simple guidelines, the five Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.
- Refuse what you don’t need
- Reduce what you actually require (and cannot refuse)
- Reuse what you consume (and cannot refuse or reduce)
- Recycle, reduce, or reuse what you can’t throw away
- Rot (compost) all the rest
Knowing where to start a zero-waste lifestyle may feel overwhelming, so we’ve compiled our top 10 tips to help you make proactive changes to your life.
1. Refuse Where You Can
You can reduce a significant amount of waste by simply saying no; remember, refusing is the first step to a zero-waste lifestyle.
- If you’re given a flyer or business card, take a picture of it with your phone instead to eliminate the need for the physical object.
- Marketing freebies: We all love getting free stuff, but learn to say no if you don’t need it. Accepting something just because it’s free isn’t a good enough excuse. Pens and USB drives are excellent examples of marketing gifts. Leave them for someone who will use them if you know you won’t.
- Plastic-wrapped produce: Send a message to stores that you will only buy things that are not covered in plastic or netting. Purchase produce directly from the farm or at your local farmer’s market, greengrocers, local food co-op, or subscribe to a veg box.
- Free bottles of water: If you’re attending a conference or travelling, decline the complimentary bottle of water and instead bring your own reusable water bottle.
- Stop paper delivery by putting a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox. Citizens advice has a great guide to help reduce your junk mail.
2. Stop Using Single-Use Plastics
One of the first steps to a zero-waste lifestyle is to refuse what you don’t need; the biggest way we produce waste is through single-use plastics. In the UK, 55% of all our plastic waste ends up in landfills or the ocean.
Plastic pollution has an obvious impact on our seas; according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, plastic cutlery is the second most harmful kind of plastic waste after plastic shopping bags.
These items are sharp and frequently discovered in our rivers; this is one of the most harmful plastics for sea turtles, birds, and marine animals. Marine life mistakes the cutlery for food, resulting in unnecessary and painful death. Only half of the waste plastic utensils are recycled! This is a dangerous and unnecessary waste of plastic; a reusable travel cutlery set is the ideal solution.
Straws (and drink stirrers) are the third most hazardous type of plastic, and they have been linked to the deaths of marine species. Straws are extremely light and readily blown away, resulting in their accumulation in streams and direct passage into the ocean. They can cause serious harm to marine animals when they become caught in their noses or airways. Every year, nearly 4 billion plastic straws are thrown in the United Kingdom alone!
Here at GoEthical, we love I Am Ecoist because they sell an eco-friendly alternative to plastic cutlery and straws that you can roll up and throw in your luggage. To reduce waste, they also sell a wide choice of stainless steel water bottles and coffee cups.
3. Swap Your Cleaning Products
Choose environmentally friendly cleaning products for a more low waste home, whether you’re doing a long-awaited deep clean or merely freshening up your living area.
We love Clean Living when it comes to eco-friendly household products. Their products contain healthy microorganisms that create enzymes for a deep clean. This means that Clean Living products are all-natural and built to last, allowing you to cut your waste while keeping your house spotless.
Here’s how they help your zero-waste lifestyle:
- There is no single-use plastic waste because the aluminium bottles can be refilled and recycled indefinitely.
- There is no need for bubble wrap because the cleaning product caddy fits securely inside the packaging box.
- No waste of cleaning wipes — Clean Living’s caddy contains high-quality microfibre cloths that eliminate the need for disposable cloths.
- The cleaning products are provided in sachets that may be filled with water at home (you can return them to Clean Living for recycling).
4. Ditch The Clingfilm
It’s essential to consider your food waste and storage while practising zero waste; this is where a lot of waste comes from. The UK uses 1.2 billion metres of cling film every year, none of which can be recycled, so getting rid of it is a fantastic place to start on your zero-waste journey.
Wraps made of beeswax (or vegan alternatives) are one of the easiest ways to cut down on single-use plastic in the kitchen.
To re-use them, simply wash them in a mixture of water and soap, using gentle care, and you can even re-wax the wrap!
5. Switch Out Your Razor
Around 60 million razors and blade products are thrown away in one year in the UK. The simple solution to this problem predates the disposable razor – the safety razor. These are sturdy, reusable razors you may have seen your granddad use at one point.
If you’re looking for the perfect reusable razor, then check out Shoreline Shaving. Their metal safety razors are expertly designed for the face and the body. The slimline head and grooved edge make for a precision wet shave that’s clean and gentle on the skin. The long handle and textured grip allow you to safely shave in those hard to reach areas and maintain a smooth finish.
Shoreline Shaving is a small plastic-free shaving business based in Manchester, UK. Run by friends and family. They support and donate a portion of profits to The Ocean Cleanup and Surfers Against Sewage.
6. Use Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
You don’t need a chemically loaded, plastic-packaged shampoo or conditioner to give your hair a good wash. In the United Kingdom alone, we discard 520 million shampoo bottles per year. Shampoo and conditioner bars are the answer.
Shampoo bars are not only environmentally friendly, but they’re also long-lasting, smaller, less expensive, and ideal for travel (hello, sun, sea, and sand!). They’re also free of chemicals like SLS and silicone, which can build up and harm your hair. Shampoo bars are the answer to lush locks without the use of plastic.
7. Think Before You Shop
Overconsumption has a significant impact on the amount of plastic and other garbage generated globally.
Being picky about the brands you support financially and taking into account their packaging and principles may make a big difference in reducing waste at home, and buying better means goods last longer.
To live a more zero-waste lifestyle, you should choose better, more sustainable solutions that have a lower environmental impact, but only if you need them in the first place.
8. Learn To Compost
Composting is an excellent way to reduce your waste. You can get a compost bin in the UK for as little as £22.50; you can then transform your kitchen and garden waste into valuable and nutrient-rich food for your garden!
The UK has a big problem with food waste; 50% of the food waste we throw in the bin could be composted. Finding a compost system that works for you and your home is an excellent step towards a zero-waste lifestyle.
9. Learn To Recycle Properly
Learn about your city’s recycling policies and places, but consider recycling to be a last resort. Have you tried refusing, reducing, or repurposing first? Examine the necessity and lifespan of your purchases. Shopping is a form of voting with your money.
10. Shop At GoEthical
Shop from GoEthical during 2021 to help make sustainable lifestyle choices, whether you have a specific product in mind or you’re looking for items to reduce your waste. Buy and sell ethical & eco-friendly, artisan, and pre-loved products at GoEthical.
If you want to browse an array of environmentally friendly and sustainable cleaning products, all you need to do is download the GoEthical App for IOS or Google Play. On it, you can chat and connect with like-minded community members and discover detailed listings for ethical and eco products, from small sellers to well-known global brands.
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