Reading length: 3 minutes
The end goal of zero waste is not only to simply reduce waste. Zero waste is a way of life, a lifestyle which has an impact on all aspects of our lives.
Zero waste in not only about reducing or completely eliminating our waste, it makes you save up time on superfluous activities: spending an entire afternoon shopping (you know, those casual bonding afternoon between a mother and her daughter spending their day shopping), shopping twice or 3 times in a month, mowing the lawn of your front and backyard every week, taking out the trash/bins once to twice a week, spending a day browsing the internet to buy something that will dissatisfy us in a couple month… and many more.
The goal is to focus on what is essential. And this is entirely up to you. It could be spending time with your loved ones, be it family, friends, your fiancée… it could mean having time and money for traveling, for personal projects, watching movies or going for a walk in a park and reading a great book.
This vision was first shared to the world by a French woman expatriated in California: Bea Johnson. What made her tilt is mainly the society she was living in: highly consumeristic and based on appearances are the reasons for her epiphany.
And it is because of her, that today we showcase our zero-waste life experience. For more detailed articles, check out our Zero Waste Serie: the kitchen and Zero Waste Serie: the bathroom.
Zero waste is based on 5 R-pillars:
goods we do not need or require
Every day, we come across many goods we do not need: single-use items, disposable items, free samples and gifs, flyers, …
Disposable items are an easily substitutable category. Indeed, forks, knives, plastic cups, plates, straws, bags, bottles and other disposable plastic items can be replaced with a reusable counterpart (smoothies look a lot better with a stainless-steel straw!). Discover the captivating movie “the life of a spoon” at the end of this article.
These items are toxic to both humans and animals and for our planet. Their production and disposal highly contaminate our environment because their production requires toxic industrial processes and their destruction or disposal is done through incineration or burying.
For the other categories of goods, it is a lot simpler as you just need to refuse them politely. The best is to think zero-waste in most of your day to day life (when going to the bakers, kindly refuse any packaging by bringing and giving your own packaging, bring your own shopping bags for your fruits and vegetables, …).
What you are not able to refuse
For that, you need to know exactly what you own.
The best is to sort what you own and to “get rid” (give, sell or recycle) of what you do not need or use.
From now on, before any purchase that you are about to do, go through the 5 R-principles.
- Prefer quality over quantity
- Prefer life experiences over material goods
- Avoid activities which push you to consume goods
A good technic is to check how often you use an item (if you even use that item) to know if you need that object.
the objects and items you cannot refuse or reduce
Favor reusable goods and products such as reusable and cotton bags.
If you need to buy something, buy it second hand (in our experience, everything can be bought second hand).
Repair objects to prolong their lifetime.
all objects which cannot be refused, nor reduced, nor reused
It is important to check that what you buy is really recycle. This saves energy and natural resources.
Check your local recycling policy and guidelines. If it possible for you, try visiting your recycling centre to learn what is really recycled. It only takes up a couple hours (it took us one and a half hour).
Compost what is left
Composting is the final stage. It can be summed up as recycling organic waste. It allows our organic waste to decompose (organic waste makes up to one-third of our domestic waste).
A well-managed compost should be odourless! Of course, do not put any animal flesh or any products produced by animals as it will putrefy and smell.
This article is not meant to tell you what to do, it is designed more as a guide, and it is up to you to find the right balance.
As for us, we do not have a bin anymore and only have about a 3-liter bucket of compost every third week. We dump it in communal composts in our city. We still have a bit of recyclable waste (A4 paper, credit card receipts, letters, pens which can be recycled in specialised facilities, …). The only non-recyclable waste is condoms.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section or via email!
Lucie & Joachim