We all know that plastic waste has a massive impact on the environment. The plastic waste we throw out is choking creatures in the ocean and clogging up the incinerators in landfills. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Through conscious consumption, we can all do our part to minimize our impact on the environment while maximizing our conservation efforts.
One way to do this is by shopping zero waste, and while having a bulk store nearby makes this so much easier, there are other ways to do it and we’re going to show you how.
What is Zero Waste?
Zero waste is all about consuming as little as possible while giving back as much as you can to the earth. It challenges the current status quo about waste and was born from a realization that if we don’t turn our behavior around and act in more environmentally conscious ways, then there won’t be enough space for us to live a clean and uninterrupted life in the future.
Living zero waste without a bulk store only requires that you make small adjustments to your lifestyle. It’s about finding creative ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
But, a life of zero waste also calls for consistency, otherwise, it doesn’t make much of a difference. And while you might get weird looks from certain people and maybe even questions from others, it’s well worth the effort.
The Impact of Zero Waste
· Less trash ends up in landfills.
· It counteracts the destructive culture of consumerism.
· Promotes healthy eating.
· It teaches you discipline and how to make hard decisions for the greater good.
Why Is Living Zero Waste Important?
The plastic we use for packaging products typically comes from the oil industry. It’s made from fossil fuels and is non-renewable, meaning it’s an unsustainable resource and basically bad news.
The very first piece of plastic ever made is still on this planet somewhere and there are small plastic fragments; microplastics that are causing some serious damage to marine life.
· More than 2 billion tonnes of waste is produced around the world each year, and that amount is set to increase by at least 70 percent in the next thirty years according to the World Bank.
· The waste management hierarchy that the Environmental Protection Agency came up with indicates that source reduction and reuse is the most preferred waste management approach and zero waste living is a part of that process. Meanwhile, treatment and disposal of waste is the least preferred waste management method.
What to Avoid
Every time you go out shopping, you need to be aware of how much packaging comes with whatever products you’re buying. Avoid things that come with extra packaging. More packaging means more waste.
Make sure you cut down on the takeout or at least dine inside the restaurant, so you don’t have to take home any trash.
Use proper stainless steel cutlery and good old porcelain crockery to avoid using Styrofoam bowls and plates, as well as plastic forks and spoons.
Benefits of Zero Waste
A zero-waste community is a healthy community. Since it helps reduce air pollution, you get more breathable air; lowering the chances of people developing respiratory issues.
Since you’re keeping all those toxic materials away from landfills and water sources, you’re less likely to get illnesses associated with contaminated soil or water.
The entire zero waste movement is geared towards reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Product manufacturing accounts for nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions, so you can imagine the impact of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Living with zero waste prevents natural resources from being wasted, it cuts down energy consumption, and you even get fewer pollutants from the extraction and processing of raw materials.
Economic Benefits Zero waste initiatives help support the green economy. To bring new life to old products, a huge workforce is needed. As if that wasn’t enough, rather than bringing in products from elsewhere, you have local people producing or reproducing products to be bought by locals as well.
Governments are realizing the impact companies have when it comes to waste, so they’re providing incentives to encourage them to be more sparing with packaging, more enterprising in recycling, and make goods last longer.
Ways to Live Zero Waste Without a Bulk Store
1. Reuse, Reuse, reuse
You need to reuse your packaging or containers as much as possible. Keep your water and your coffee in metal or glass bottles you can use over and over again.
Getting new plastics every time you go to the store just isn’t sustainable, so why not bring your own shopping bags? They’ve even got reusable produce bags these days, which is great.
2. Don’t Waste!
The words say it all; zero waste is all about avoiding waste. Make sure your food doesn’t go bad by keeping it stored properly.
All it takes is a little heat or exposure to kickstart the rotting process, so you’ve got to make sure that the temperature and environment the food is in are optimal for preservation as well. Take advantage of all that biodegradable goodness by composting, even if you don’t have a garden of your own, there’s sure to be a local farmer that would appreciate your scraps.
You need to consider if you really need that receipt after paying for those goods and services you often pay for and most shops offer digital receipts as an alternative too. And instead of writing your shopping list on a piece of paper, rather use a note-taking app on your phone.
3. Sort your Rubbish
It’s important that you divide your waste so it’s easier to manage. You can’t make compost if you’ve got non-biodegradable material mixed up in it.
You’ll also want to separate your trash so that it’s easier to recycle or reuse as part of your zero waste lifestyle.
4. Buy Used
Access to gently-loved goods has skyrocketed in the last few years. There are plenty of online thrift stores that you can shop at, as well as physical thrift stores and pawn shops.
The important thing is to get decent quality products that won’t fuel the consumerism machine. We all know how much trash new stuff creates.
5. Think Closer to Home
You’d do well to buy products that are produced or sourced locally because shipping cargo takes a lot of energy and money.
When you buy from your local farmers’ market or you pop into a local mom-and-pop shop, you’re supporting wholesome growth and putting money back into your local community.
6. Tread Light
There are over a billion cars on the planet now, which is mindblowing because there are about 7 billion of us. If everybody of driving age had a car, the combined carbon monoxide emissions could be enough to create a fatal climate crisis.
You need to think about whether you really need to take your car on your daily commute. You could have others join you in a carpool, or you could possibly join one that’s already running.
Think about taking the bus or if your destination is only a few blocks away; just walk or cycle there if you can. Chew on how much energy and cash you spend getting to your place of business every day.
If you’ve got to travel a long distance or under less-than-ideal circumstances, sure, cruising in your gas-guzzler is perfectly fine. But if where you’re going is a stone’s throw away, ditch the car.
Spread the Word
Here’s the thing about living with zero waste; you’ve got to get others in on it. The very nature of the zero waste movement is that it’s communal. The moment you start adopting these practices, you’ve automatically made a pledge to save the world, and you should feel proud to share that with others.
Let local businesses know that you prefer minimalist packaging. Use those suggestion boxes. Fire away at those testimonials and reviews they get you to do; whatever it takes to get your voice out there.
And encourage your friends and family members to start shopping in places where they let you bring your own container as well. But most important, lead by example. The more you continue to practice a zero-waste lifestyle, the more you’ll inspire others to do the same.
· Remember your intention of making zero waste and make that your inspiration whenever you encounter challenges.
· Work zero waste living into your daily routine and make it a habit to adopt sustainable practices.
· Get an accountability partner to help you take this seriously. You can compete on who accumulates the least waste and make it a fun activity overall.
· Connect with like-minded people and build a community around you.
From Zeroes to Heroes
The life of a zero waster is a highly fulfilling one. You know that you’re not only doing yourself a favor but the entire planet and all the species that live on it. It’s a good feeling to know that you’re contributing to sustainable development every day.
You’ve heard about the four R’s; refuse, reuse, reduce, and recycle, you might have even heard a song about them. The principle behind the four R’s can apply to all aspects of our lives.
We shouldn’t only confine them to the kitchen or to one aspect of our lives. We need to make sure that every single quadrant of our existence adheres to these principles.
And now you know that you can finally minimize your waste without using a bulk store. Remember to keep asking questions, keep pushing the envelope, and know that you can always do more. Now let’s zero in on that waste!