Like countless others, you may be concerned about the ongoing climate crisis. One problem that urgently needs to be tackled is waste management. According to an article on The Conversation, the world produces a staggering 53.6 metric tonnes annually or 7.3 kilogrammes per capita. However, Europe only recycles 42.5% of the waste they produce. As an individual, you can help combat this by practicing a zero-waste lifestyle.
The zero-waste lifestyle involves using sustainable and reusable materials as much as possible while staying away from single-use items. Nowadays, there are lots of simple things you can do to ease into this lifestyle at home. Below are a few.
Follow the 5 R’s
It’s always best to begin with the basics. The zero-waste lifestyle expands on the traditional ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra and adds ‘refuse’ and ‘rot’ to the method. Firstly, it encourages you to refuse any single-use items such as plastic bottles, shopping bags, and straws. Reduce refers to how much you buy and places an emphasis on only bringing home long-lasting items like cast-iron cookware and sturdy boots, so you can reuse them for years to come. Finally, redirect the waste you do produce away from the rubbish bin. Instead, send it to a recycling plant — or, if it’s biodegradable, let it rot in a Bokashi composting bucket. This uses fermentation to turn your food waste into compost without generating a foul odour, and is even small enough to use in flats.
Switch to solar
Solar energy doesn’t need water or harmful gases to generate electricity, making it the best zero-waste energy option on the market. Moreover, a homeowner’s guide to solar by Hoymiles shows that this can significantly reduce your energy bill and dependence on traditional energy providers. Though it may sound daunting and expensive to make the switch, there’s a simple and cheap way available: joining a local community solar farm. Here, the energy generated by a large solar plant is shared with multiple other houses in your neighbourhood. You’ll receive your energy remotely, without having to install anything in your own home. There are around 500 solar farms in the UK for you to apply to, with the largest ones located in Bedfordshire, Flintshire, and Herne Bay.
According to green business specialist Marni Evans, saltwater comprises over 97% of the world’s water supply, while another 2.5% is freshwater locked away in glaciers and icebergs. The demand for the remaining usable 0.5% is only set to get even scarcer as the global population grows, so it’s best to conserve what we have. To this end, try taking shorter showers, turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, and water your garden with collected rainwater. You can do the latter by purchasing a raincatcher or creating one yourself with a rubbish bin.
Also, consider adopting a plant-based diet, as meat products have a higher water footprint than vegetables. A water footprint report from FoodPrint Project notes that it takes nearly 7,000 litres to produce a single pound of beef, as compared to 9 gallons for a pound of lettuce.
Buy local and seasonal foods
If you decide to bring zero-waste to the dinner table with a plant-based diet, it’s important to procure food locally and in season. This supports local farmers and ensures you don’t buy food that’s been cultivated far from where you live. When your food hasn’t travelled far to reach your table, supply chains can save on the petrol and materials expended in food transport, promoting zero-waste. It’s also much healthier for you, as the nutritional value of the produce isn’t lost in transit. Plus, don’t forget to bring a reusable bag to the farmers’ market!
Although embarking on a zero-waste lifestyle can appear daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Even these four simple steps can help you practice sustainability at home and help preserve the earth’s wonders for years to come.
Written by Rhianne Jordan
Rhianne Jordan is an environmental activist and an advocate of the zero-waste lifestyle. In her free time, she enjoys baking and finishing DIY projects around her home.