The Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Student: “Is ‘Zero Waste’ like when you keep everything?”

Quick answer: No.

Zero waste is not as simple (or unsanitary) as what you might believe. We’re not hoarders. We’re actually quite the opposite.

We live in a world where we are constantly buying, using and disposing of materials. Time and time again.

You may have entered a supermarket to buy the groceries you needed and yet ended up adding some extra bags of crisps or packets of sweets.

You may have ordered food in the canteen instead of bringing a packed lunch from home, simply because it’s easier.

Or, when you last hung out with your friends, as a group, you all decided to have a little shopping spree - buying the latest pairs of trainers or, after you said you had “nothing to wear” you bought three new tops, two pair of trousers, and that really cute jacket from Urban Outfitters.

We all do it. Children, teens, adults and the elderly - there’s always something that we’ll definitely need and will not think twice about.

But do we need it? Is there an alternative?

Possibly, most likely, yes.

Zero waste living is a fairly new solution to preventing climate change.

The philosophy is more focused on waste prevention than waste management itself.

You’ve probably heard of the 3 R’s “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”, and although they’re useful and dandy, there’s been two more members added to the family.

The 5 R’s are: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot.

Each are pretty self-explanatory, but they are really important, and they come with an important order. It’s almost like a hierarchy system.

Refuse: Refuse all single-use plastics, and find alternatives such as a cotton bags, metal straws or a reusable microfibre cloth.

Reduce: Purchase repairable items over disposable ones, and try to avoid unnecessary purchases.

Reuse: Practice borrowing and sharing items; repair instead of replacing an unhinged door; and rethink what items you could reuse that you already have at home.

Recycle: If you don’t know or are not sure about which items can be recycled in your county, a quick search on your county council’s website will bring up a list of items that can and cannot be recycled.

Rot: A worm bin is specific but very nifty: not only are you helping the environment by not sending the waste to an incinerator, but you would also be allowing worms to turn your waste into a natural fertiliser.

The main idea about zero waste is to reduce the disposal of materials.

No one will ever be able to live a completely zero waste lifestyle.

It’s so important to just be aware of what you consume and dispose.

Do what you can, and we’ll save the planet together.

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