8 Ways to Adopt a Zero-waste Lifestyle

 Joanne Criss / Jul 2, 2018

The tales of a massive floating island made of garbage is not a myth. It’s three times larger than France and contains 79,000 tons of discarded plastic.

To combat this issue of excess waste, an Australian couple has set an example in front of the world by adopting the zero-waste lifestyle by living on a plant-based diet. The most astonishing part about the couple is that they have moved to a tiny house to live waste-free when they are expecting a baby girl pretty soon. According to treehugger.com, the couple – Mark and Joanna have built this tiny house with the intention to welcome their child into a world.

Starting from a self-built deck to the simple interior of the house – everything indicates the minimalist approach of the couple in building the house. However, the house has everything that an average human being may need, including a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping loft, a lounge and even a nursery for the new-born baby. According to Livingbiginatinyhouse.com, it took Mark and Joanna 3 months and 50,000 AU$ (around 38,000 USD) to construct this home.

The house demonstrates perfectly that zero-waste living does not mean you have to live without life’s luxury. It only suggests that you need to be more responsible about your choices as a consumer. That will not only save you a considerable amount of money but also help reduce the amount of waste that affects the whole environment.

Leaving the regular routine and adjusting to the zero-waste lifestyle may not be an easy feat to achieve, but with a little dedication and some useful tips, you can also live a trash-free life like Mark and Joanna. Here’s how:

1. Quit the use of plastic packaging:

The disposable plastic containers generate around 13 million tons of non-degradable waste in the US. You can contribute from your end by ditching plastic packaging altogether. Instead of bringing the grocery in a plastic container, carry a mason jar to the grocery store to get the grocery items and the foods.

Also, find an alternative to the household essentials that come in bottled packages like the dish cleaner, hand wash, liquid soap and shampoo. There are enough brands which have started producing the essentials in eco-friendly containers.

2. Do not waste your food:

Food waste is another important issue to manage. There is a significant number of people in our society who do not get to eat a proper meal on a daily basis. If you have too much left-over in your freezer, you can distribute the food to the underprivileged people.

3. Reduce the use of disposable paper products:

The amount of waste generated from the disposable paper products is quite alarming. And since trees are being cut to produce all these paper products, reducing the use of disposable paper products has become a necessity for saving the environment from deteriorating.

Instead of using paper towels and paper napkins, use the cloth version of these products. Cloths can be washed and reused over a period. So it will reduce the amount of waste from your end, and also help you save some bucks over costly disposables.

4. Avoid plastic bags:

Plastic bags are easy to carry around and cost less than the bags made of jute, canvas or cloth. However, we know what plastic bags are doing to our environment. So instead of carrying all the shopped items in a plastic bag, bring an eco-friendly bag with you whenever you go shopping.

There are recyclable plastic bags as well, which you can use to reduce the generation of plastic bags. Also, try to buy things in bulk if it’s possible. Purchasing single servings means a higher number of containers, which lead to more amount of waste.

5. Bring your own lunch:

Bringing your own lunch to work in a reusable lunch box can help reduce the waste generation to a great extent. According to RecycleWorks.org, disposable lunches generate 100 pounds of waste per person each year.

The generated waste usually contains to-go packaging and conventional plastic containers etc. Besides, the extra amount of food often adds to the garbage. Usually, when you bring your lunch with you, you know how much food will be enough for you. Also, this will save you some money as well.

6. Go digital:

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, an office worker uses around two pounds of paper every day.

Instead of using papers for taking notes, making presentations and keeping files, use the digital format of those things to reduce the paper-generated waste. Use email to communicate with your colleagues, take notes on laptops and store files on cloud storage. This may help reduce the paper waste to a great extent.

7. Make use of compostable waste:

Every household generates a certain amount of compostable garbage every day. This waste includes parts of fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, tea-bags, unbleached paper, houseplants, excessive food items and much more.

These are all organic waste. If you don’t have enough space or an outdoor compost pile, you can use Vermicomposting, where red wiggler worm turns organic material into usable compost pretty quick. Also, the municipal composting program allows responsible citizens to deposit organic waste at a particular place which will later be processed into usable compost.

8. Organize your waste:

A simple technique can help you manage your everyday waste in a more productive way. Organize your everyday waste in three different categories. Keep the recyclable wastes in a separate bin, which you can use later or give it to someone who can make use of those wastes.

Keep the organic waste in a separate bin, so that you can later use that for composting. And finally, keep all the non-degradable, non-recyclable wastes like plastic bottles, plastic containers, etc. to a different bin and deposit it to the municipal garbage collecting van.

These tips in mind, it’s possible to make positive efforts to make this world a better place for not only the humankind but also for all the beings living on it.


Serving Without Sacrifice?

So here is what I'm thinking. . . . Many times when opportunities to serve/volunteer are presented I find myself not stepping up to the plate because of very legitimate reasons. I'm a busy person doing a lot of good things with a very finite amount of time, right?!

I’m not at all implying that I (or anyone else) should feel guilty. I don't. I haven't. But today I started thinking about the people who jumped into the ocean in Florida this weekend to save the two little boys caught in a riptide, to their own peril, and the many others who saw what was happening and formed a human chain to get them out. Every one of those people sacrificed what they were doing and quite a few of them risked their own lives in doing so.

I have no problem jumping in to rescue someone. That's pretty much in my DNA. It's how I'm wired. It's why I was a cop. But what about less heroic needs? What about the call for volunteers at church? What about the email that just went out for a meal train? Am I too busy to be bothered? How many others volunteer to serve only when it is convenient for them? And how much better would the world be if we all were willing to put a little more skin in the game?

Do I truly value those things I think I value if I only serve at my convenience? Have I made assumptions that it is easier for the people I see volunteering? I think for some probably yes. For others, I don’t think so.

I just can't help but believe that our world is a little less than it could be if we all actually sacrificed some of the time and money we spend on ourselves, towards our own interests. There are certainly many opportunities to help people that are easy for me. I can shove a few dollars here and there quite easily. I can easily help others out of my overflow. But is that serving? Maybe that’s just generosity. It helps, but does it qualify as serving? 

Much of the time when we give and it looks like sacrifice, there is a pretty good payback involved. Some human behaviorists purport that we only choose to do things that give us a payback of some kind—even if it’s just intrinsic (i.e., we feel better about ourselves or like how we might be perceived by others). Can I sacrifice my time, my attention, and do something just because it needs to be done?

I believe love demands sacrifice. I'm really looking at the level of sacrifice I’m willing to give in every area of my life. Not to the point of self-harm or dereliction of responsibilities or even messed up priorities. Admittedly, there are times in life when the things you are doing need to be the things you are doing—and nothing more. But when I have the ability, am I willing to cut a chunk out of my pre-set plans, my schedule, my life to help meet a legitimate need? Do I have more ability to help than I think I do? Have I really, maybe, just not been willing to sacrifice? Am I willing to sacrifice for something/someone I care about—at a true cost to me? And if what I’m giving today is easy, am I willing to lean into it a little more, sacrifice a little more, to contribute, to make the world a better place?

This is what I’m pondering today.