"We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Last week we wrote about how to put a stop on single plastic use and kickstart a sustainable lifestyle. This week, we will give the 101 on how to transform your life towards simple, manageable and waste-free living at home that will save time, money and reduce your household's waste.
Before we deep dive into how to achieve zero waste, plastic free lifestyle. Let us first understand the importance of reducing consumption habits and why we should care.
What is Zero Waste?
Nothing lasts forever but plastics almost do. Plastic takes time to break down. There is a misconception that zero-waste living is a privilege that only few can afford, because of the higher price tag attached to eco friendly products. The reality is the average American produces 1,606 pounds of trash a year per person, which either gets incinerated, dumped in the ocean, or ends up in the landfill: all of this generates greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change.
Zeroing plastic waste seems impossible in today's modern throwaway society. Plastics are in almost every aspect of our daily lives: Plastics to carry our drinks, hold our shampoos and keep our veggies fresh. Plastic has made our life easy and convenient but all that at the expense of our planet resources causing rise in pollution, rise in temperature, and rise in green house gas. Plastic is also detrimental to our own health, the health of the future generations, and the species that shares this planet with us.
If we were to put it into simple economics, it is all about supply and demands. If the demand for plastic drops, supply will plummet, and if more and more people adopt a zero waste or plastic free lifestyle, the demand will go down and one day we will fight the big corporations and government agencies to implement policies to protect the planet and our health.
Essentially, zero-waste means living within your means, reducing our consumption habits to reduce waste. Contrary to what many believe, zero-waste is easy to adopt and practice. In this blog, we will show you how to get started.
What are the 5 R's of Zero Waste Living?
- Refuse what you do not need
- Reduce what you do need
- Reuse what you consume
- Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse
- And if all fails, then toss it in the garbage
How to Get Started
There are variety of ways to practice a zero waste lifestyle, some choose to be DIY Guru's making their own soaps, laundry detergents, toothpaste, deodorants etc. Others choose to take a more practical approach buying in bulk and buying from local environmental friendly fairly traded companies or brands that has made zero waste their priority.
The kitchen and the bathroom are the most wasteful part of our home. We will focus on each one to help you find ways to unpack your plastic free lifestyle at home.
In the Kitchen
- Plastic biggest offenders are plastic bags, items that comes packaged in plastic, coffee cups, and straws. Avoid Plastic Bags and ditch anything that is packaged in plastic. Use reusable cups and straws.
- Swap paper towels for reusable rags.
- Put leftovers in a reusable containers. If you already have a plastic container, either continue using it to store food. Since plastic is harmful to our health, I recommend metal or glass containers to store leftovers. Don't just toss the plastic container away to adopt a plastic free lifestyle, find use for it to store other household item.
- Invest in a pressure cooker. It halves the cooking time. Did you also know that cooking with a lid on reduces the cooking time as well?
- Carry your own tote and produce bags when heading to the your local zero waste grocery store.
- Shop at your local Farmers market and use reusable bags.
- Don't use a dish-washer, it consumes tons of water and electricity. But if you do use it, make sure it is full before turning it on.
- Swap a bar soap for plastic dispenser bottle, and buy bar soaps in bulk. You can also use powdered detergents and reusable dispensers to make your own dishwashing solution.
- Most importantly COMPOST. The thrown away veggies and food scraps is the number 1 contributor towards green house gas emission when tossed in the landfill. But if you take it to a composting location, the same thrown away veggies is a gold mine for plants revitalization.
Here are a few other ways to reduce your waste to maintain a healthy lifestyle and give: mother nature time to heal.
In the Bathroom
- Use toilet papers made from recycled materials and that are not sold in plastic bags.
- Shower/ Shampoo/ Conditioner: Say bye bye to plastic containers and buy bar soap, shampoo and conditioner in bulk.
- Toothbrush: Use bamboo toothbrush. If you already use a plastic electric toothbrush continue using that until it dies, and then make a switch to bamboo which is more eco friendly. You can grab our favorite Kaylaan bamboo toothbrush made from Moso bamboo.
- Toothpaste: Over 1 billion toothpaste tubes end up in landfills each year. To prevent this you can opt for chemical free, all natural toothpaste that comes in a recyclable or reusable jars or tins. Kaylaan offers what we and other think is the best all organic, chemical free, zero waste toothpaste tablets that is good for your oral hygiene and phenomenal for the planet.
- Safety Razor: Make a switch from plastic and disposable razors to safety razor, the razor and blades are made from stainless steel and can be recycled.
- Toilet brush: If you are already using a plastic toilet brush continue using it and if necessary switch to a wood toilet brush that can be compostable at the end of its life.
- Beauty Routine: There are not that many zero waste options for make up. Some people take the DIY approach but if you are not into DIY, buy products from make up brands that promotes Zero waste and recycling.
- Hairbrush/Comb: If you already have a hairbrush, don't toss it away just to be plastic free, continue using it until it wears out ( but plastic takes more than 400 years to break down, so it will outlive you). But, if you need to buy one, buy one that is made from wood.
In this seemingly endless cycle of consumerism, taking the step to living waste-free seems daunting, and takes a little bit of getting used to but it is easily doable and if you do it regularly it will become a habit.