In today’s world, it can feel like you are constantly bombarded with bad news, especially regarding the state of our environment. At times climate change can feel unnervingly close or a distant problem, but it is something everyone needs to be thinking about and wondering what they can do to help, even in the smallest of ways. Trying to live a more zero-waste lifestyle is a great way to start doing your part in protecting our planet. By reducing your output of waste, you are also helping to limit your carbon footprint.
You might have heard this term thrown around, maybe in the news or on TV, but what does carbon footprint actually mean? Well, it is a measure of the greenhouse gasses released into the air as a result of your actions, such as how much waste you produce or how you contribute to the production of harmful emissions. This might sound scary and pretty unchangeable, but there are many simple and small adjustments you can make that can reduce your carbon footprint and help rid the world of waste.
You may also be asking why all this matters. With environmental changes happening as a result of climate change, it is important that as a community we come together to do what we can in preventing it from getting worse. Also, by reducing the amount of waste you produce, this can lessen the quantity of rubbish that is buried in landfills. Not only are they a major source of pollution, but landfills also create methane as it rots, which is a harmful gas that contributes to global warming.
There are many ways people can work towards a zero-waste lifestyle and reducing their carbon footprint, but first, you need to understand the fundamentals of waste reduction, the 5 Rs.
The 5 Rs
Did you think there were only 3 Rs when it came to waste? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Whilst the most popular methods to stop waste is reduce, reuse and recycle, you should not ignore refuse and rot.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, when given the chance, you can reduce your waste output simply by refusing. For example, it’s okay to say no when offered single use plastic. Try out reusable cutlery with Ever Eco’s Bamboo Cutlery Set, it's the perfect on the go bundle. It includes a knife and fork and a spoon with a handy organic cotton pouch making it easy to carry with you wherever you go. So, the next time you’re getting take away from your favourite restaurant, you can say no thanks to their plastic cutlery as you’ve got your own.
Although it might seem obvious, reducing the number of things you buy can be very difficult. But by being mindful in your purchases and only investing in what you need, you are helping reduce the amount of waste produced.
Reuse is pretty straightforward. Got an empty food jar you were thinking about throwing away, why don’t you clean it out and turn it into a plant pot or use them as drinking glasses. Reuse is one of the simplest ways to keep things out of landfill and you can get creative in the process and discover some fun DIYs. You can cut down on single use plastic by buying a reusable drink bottle instead of using plastic bottles. The reusable Cheeki Stainless Steel Bottles come in an array of fun colours and are big enough for all day hydration.
Composting your food scraps is a great way to make sure your waste is being properly disposed of and not going into landfills. Setting up an at home compost is easy or, if you don’t have the ability, research where your closest food scrap drop-off centre is and make the effort to use it.
I think most of us are familiar with the concept of recycling, but you would be surprised by the many ways people are doing it wrong. First, you should make yourself familiar with your state's recycling laws and what you can and cannot put in your bins. You should only recycle when you feel you cannot reuse the item, always have a think about whether you could repurpose your rubbish.
There are many other areas of your life where you can incorporate a zero-waste mindset.
There are endless options in the beauty and skincare world for you to be more conscious and reduce your contribution to landfills. First, replacing single-use beauty products with reusable ones. Things like makeup wipes, cotton pads and sheet masks are all easily replaced with items that don’t need to be disposed of after only one use. Try changing to bars of soap wherever possible, they might be retro but are ultimately better for the environment. There are now many brands who are doing their part and using recycled and recyclable packaging.
Ethique, a plastic free eco brand, has a wide range of face, body and haircare products that can help you in your zero-waste journey. Their Solid Face Cleanser & Makeup Remover Superstar! is the perfect replacement for your makeup wipes. The cleansing balm works as a 3 in 1 facial and is packaged in a reusable box.
Fast fashion is an extreme pollutant of the environment as the cost of making clothes quickly forces companies to use harmful textiles that take a long time to break down. Some of the ways you can help with this issue is to shop second hand. Vintage and thrift shopping can be a fun adventure that lets you explore your style and discover hidden gems. When you’re at one of these thrift stores is the perfect time to donate your own clothes that you don’t need anymore. If you have clothes that are too old to be donated, don’t stress, you can use them as cleaning rags or fun sewing projects. There are also now thousands of companies that produce sustainable clothing, often made from recycled materials.
It might seem simple but one of the easiest ways to ensure you are not contributing to fast fashion and other harmful clothing practices is by buying less. Sometimes, the essentials are all you need and having a minimalist wardrobe can make getting dressed easier with less options.
The food industry produces a large amount of waste and green house gases. But there are a few habits you can integrate into your lifestyle to try and combat the harmful realities of climate change.
Here are a few food habits you can practice to try and limit your wastage.
- Take stock of the items you already have so you don’t over buy.
- Be wary of buying food in bulk simply because it’s cheaper as food could go out of date before it is eaten.
- Plan out what you need to buy before going grocery shopping, this can avoid you getting distracted and buying food you won't eat.
- Try and freeze your food where possible to extend its shelf life and keep food edible for longer.
- When eating out at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask if they could package any uneaten food for you to take home. Minimising your food waste is extremely important, even when outside your own kitchen.
The transition into a zero-waste lifestyle is not always easy. The journey is not without mistakes or frustration but every choice you make in trying to reduce your carbon footprint is a step in the right direction.