Embarking on the zero waste journey can look overwhelming when you start, but by just breaking it down into small steps you can accomplish a lot! Trust me not every DIY or zero-waste products you can buy will necessarily work for you and there are still items that I need to buy that comes in plastic or contains un-organic materials, like medicine for instance. My body does NOT like natural medicine and I get super weird reactions, so at this stage in my life, I am too afraid to try.
Find out what works and does not work for you.
If you can’t do a certain switch don’t be hard on yourself. Find a way to reuse or recycle the packaging. Encourage other people to be more zero waste-conscious thus making up for the things you can’t get rid of.
When I look at my notes It gets a bit overwhelming when taking a look at all the things you can do to reduce your waste. So I will break it up into smaller posts for some easy reading. So let’s get started:
REDUCE, REUSE, REPURPOSE, RECYCLE, ROT
Now I’m gonna sound like an old granny and you probably heard this all over social media these past few years but this is something to live by. The easiest way to start to live zero waste is to follow the 5 Rs.
This is the easiest one to start with. As stated in my previous post you have to become more conscious of your surroundings and of what you buy. Start by reducing the items you buy in plastic packaging or made out of ‘breakable’ plastic. Don’t use single plastic use items like straws or plastic cutlery.
On the other hand, there are some items made out of plastic that you can’t get away from like electronics, outdoor furniture, children’s toys, etc. Yes, I know you can get wooden and organic alternatives, but really I live on a budget like most people. I can’t pay R500 for a doll for my niece. If it is long-lasting plastic and you can donate it to a charity if you don’t use it anymore it is fine in my mind.
First things first, use your products till it is completely done. Don’t throw it away because you don’t want it anymore, give it to someone else. Reuse all items more than once instead of throwing away especially when it comes to plastic. When I had to get a lot of succulents for my wedding I used old yogurt containers and bottles to plant my succulents in and they loved it!
Don’t throw away clothes just because it has a little tear in. Mend it. Or use that clothing to make rags, a nice carry bag or even a beautiful handkerchief.
Buy second-hand furniture, clothes, electronics instead of always going for new items. This helps money in the wallet also!
Most of our furniture in our house is second hand and with a bit of paint and elbow grease, it is as good as new. Those pieces have a lot of character.
Donate old clothes/items to charities. Animal welfare need lots of towels. Personally I have a few charities that I support each month but if you see someone in need, give your old stuff to them.
Our municipality offers recycling services that come and pick the bag up at your door, so it is easy to recycle. Our office also had that feature but nobody did it until I initiated it at work. Do a bit of research on what you can recycle and not and if your town has a service like that or places where you can go drop them off. A nice thing to do with the plastics that you can’t recycle is to start making Eco Bricks. (Will do a post on those later.) There are lots of charities that want Eco Bricks for projects. Email charities in your area directly and ask if they can use it, don’t just wait for an eco brick drop off to appear at your local grocery store.
Compost, compost, compost. That can be the zero waster’s theme song. After some trial and error, I think I found a method that works for me. This will cost a bit of research and I got a nice book, Jane’s Delicious Garden by Jane Griffiths, where she gives easy steps on all the ways to compost. She lives in Johannesburg, so this book is perfect for the garden entrepreneur in South Africa!
In essence compost your food scraps for your garden. I have 3 bins outside which I use for my composting method. Food on landfills creates deadly methane gas which goes into our atmosphere and in turn contributes to global warming. Save the polar bears!
So this is the long and short of the 5 R’s. There are some R’s you can find and add to your list. But to begin with, pick one and work your way up from there. What other methods have you found to use the R’s in your lifestyle?
Plastic-free July is coming up here is an article you can read for some inspiration: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/living-plastic-free.html
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