The zero waste movement is really trendy at the moment. I’m also try to apply this lifestyle due to ecological reasons. But I wonder… Is necessary to buy more before going ‘Zero Waste’? In this post I will try to explain how, by a minimum of organizing and some minor materials, you can start with what you already got at home!
When you’re a queen (or king) of DIY, you’ll be lucky and it will be easier for you to create your own cotton bags and other stuff by re- or up-cycling (old) clothes. But, if you are more like me and not so handy, some minor investments now or then can be required. And some creative thinking is always a ‘plus’. And remember you can also ask others to help you create stuff.
Are Zero Waste and minimalism similar?
In my approach, zero waste is a way of being minimalistic. You reduce things that you own(ed) and it takes less time to maintain it. You also reduce your impact on the environment by having less ànd producing less waste. Reducing waste and waste suppliers can also be a way of decluttering your life as it will simplify and will potentially give you a clear view of what you have and own.
A first importante ‘rule’, I guess, in going ‘Zero Waste’ : REFUSE !
Refuse wrapping you don’t need, refuse that waste that will ask your time to throw away and recycle it. To be honest, it’s not always easy, especially when someone brings you a gift. But if you don’t have the need of it, why keep it? Don’t let it enter your life and take your space, your time (finding a good place, cleaning it regularly, etc. etc. A (useful) gift can always find a second home and maybe it is useful for someone else? Find a local second-hand shop, donate it… or kindly give it back to the person who gives it to you and while being grateful for the gesture, you can explain why you chose to refuse.
Bulk shops and more zero waste shops offer their costumers to buy by filling jars and bags. As in the picture above, I reused some (big) jars from the supermarket. For example: when I was making some quick pasta I chose to buy a nice glass bottle of passata instead of a carton box. By washing it out, I got a nice bottle I now use for my home-made soap for my laundry. Or to fill at the bulk shop. So by reusing the jar I did not trow away any packaging and I didn’t need to buy anything (expensive) at the local shop to fill or use as my own jar.
Another example of Reuse, is using the same thing for different activities. Like the bamboo cutlery I bought for the occasional (romantic) picnic and (mainly) to take to work (going daily through Airport security). But don’t forget that metal cutlery that you’ve got home is perfect too, if you don’t need to go through check points. And to be honest, they are much better than the one in bamboo and easier to clean. So think about it before you buy by asking yourself the question: ‘is there anything you can use instead of the instagram-fashionable alternative that is cheaper, easier or that I already have at home?’
But, IF you still buy them in bamboo, know it will ask some space and time. They are requiring much more time to clean as they don’t go into the dish-washer (if you use one). And why space? As a human being, I would recommend you not to stow them with the regular metal cutlery in your kitchen but in a separate space… A space that can be useful for something else even more important and with a bigger need for your everyday cooking: your (hand) bag.
By taking your own cutlery set with you, it can be easier to refuse the single use plastic ones you usually get when taking away your lunch of the leftover of your meal. And while you are at it, why not taking your own jar or box with you as well?
And IF you drink coffee (or tea) at work, why not using a cup from home instead of using the (extremely difficult to recycle) hot drink cups? If you’re always on the go, maybe a metal or bamboo cup will be better and easier. And, to be honest, doesn’t it feel so much better to drink coffee or tea from a porcelain mug instead of that paper/plastic cup?
Do I really need it?
« Do I really need it? » is a question that needs to be permanently in your head when you want to buy something. Even when you walk in a nice zero waste shop, or see that great aluminium red colored reusable bottle for hot and cold drinks it can help to decide ‘to wait at least 10 days to buy it’. If you still want it (or need it?), it can be a clever move. But mainly… It’s not.
But, when talking about food and when it is a basic need (like vegetables or fruits), the question is not « Do I really need it? » but might become more like « Is it the most sustainable way of having it? ». Why producing the waste (mainly plastic when it comes to the food industry) if you can avoid it? If there is no alternative, remember you can leave all plastic wrapping at the supermarket and they are obliged to take it back (after paying).