The zero waste movement is making more and more waves and… followers! This movement questions our consumption and living habits.
The main idea is to create awareness of our overall consumption, to better manage our resources, and to reduce waste.
The zero waste movement follows the 5 R’s : refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.
Following the 5 R’s is a good way to learn about this practice and to get started smoothly.
We first have to learn to say no to what we don’t need. For exemple, it is easy to refuse superfluous papers (business cards, promotional flyers, etc.)
and disposable items (straws, water bottles, cosmetic pads, paper towels, plastic bags, etc.).
The refusal applies to all products that create unnecessary waste and are not truly useful.
After saying no to what we don’t really need, the next step is to reduce what we do need.
Identifying what we truly need is a difficult and ongoing process.
Here are some tips to get started:
- If I truly need a product, do I have to have that many from the same category?
- Is there a way I can reduce food packaging by buying in bulk?
- Would it be possible for me to reduce the amount of products I use or to make some of them myself.
- Do I need to have a fridge and pantry filled with so many products? Would it be possible , for example, to buy a certain variety of legumes one week and to change the following weeks?
Reuse applies to what we consume. For this 3rd step, DIY, barter trade, and second-hand items are commonplace.
Options are endless. Just be a little creative. Here are some tips to get started:
- Can I reuse the products that I can neither refuse nor reduce?
- Can I borrow tools from a family member or a neighbour rather than buying them?
- Can I buy items or clothing made from recycled materials?
- It is possible to reuse leftover food to make a different dish in order to reduce waste?
- Can I find an indispensable item in classified adds or on donation and trading websites?
Recycling applies to everything we can’t refuse, reduce or reuse (or even repair). The recycling bin is not something new to anyone…
All you have to do is follow your city’s guideline on the subject. The hardest part is following the first three “R’s”.
By enforcing them, there will be fewer and fewer items going to recycling.
Last but not least is Rot: compost what’s left. Composting applies to what we can’t refuse, reduce, reuse or recycle.
Kitchen leftovers and garden waste can be composted in your domestic or municipal composter.
Progress at your own pace while adjusting the 5 R’s according to your own reality.
The zero waste movement is a broad and very interesting topic. To explain all the aspects of this movement in such a short article would be impossible.
But the basics are there: Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot. However don’t forget that each and every person, family and each story is different.
The journey toward a zero waste lifestyle must be done to our own pace and in accordance to our individual standard of living.
Being zero waste is not an ultimate goal, but rather an adventure filled with wonderful encounters and discoveries.
Respect others and yourself in the process and above all… have fun!
For further information…
By Caroline Brisset