With anthropomorphic (man-made) climate change rapidly increasing in strength, and politicians being unable to implement the proper responses to help mitigate the effects in many areas of the world, many individuals are turning to themselves to help contribute towards mitigating the destruction of climate change. How are they doing so? By adopting a “zero waste” lifestyle.
Going Zero Waste means trying to eliminate as much unnecessary garbage that comes out of our houses and goes to landfills as possible. The massive amounts of garbage humans produce is a huge contributor to climate change and the destruction of our planet. Much of our garbage goes to landfills, cannot be broken down very quickly if at all and can often be toxic for the Earth to absorb. Cutting our garbage production down as much as possible will be crucial going into the future in order to preserve our planet’s habitability and the many species it nourishes, including ourselves of course.
So how does someone live a zero waste lifestyle? First, it is important for anyone who plans to adopt a new lifestyle to gradually implement whatever it is into their lives. This is the same with going zero waste. If you try to do it over night, you will be highly likely to become stressed, turned off and ultimately fail. The key to successfully leading a zero waste lifestyle and having a zero waste household is to slowly implement changes over the course of months.
When going zero waste you will want to stick towards buying reusable or biodegradable items. Here are some examples of the types of products zero wasters use:
- clay, metal or glass kitchenware instead of plastic or paper. (reusable)
- bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic toothbrushes. (reusable and biodegradable)
- clothes or household materials like bed sheets made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, hemp and bamboo because these materials are biodegradable (reusable and biodegradable)
- handkerchiefs and rags instead of tissues, napkins or paper towels. (biodegradable)
- soap bars rather than liquid soap to avoid plastic bottles.
- metal bottles instead of plastic bottles. (reusable)
- metal containers for carrying food instead of plastic bags, paper bags, or tin foil. (reusable)
- glass jars for storing food rather than plastic containers. (reusable)
In addition to trying to stick to reusable and biodegradable items, zero wasters also implement these practices into their lives to reduce their carbon footprint:
- buying food in bulk
- minimizing buying packaged items
- minimizing use of electric equipment because of its dependence on gas
- minimizing driving and opting for biking and opting for hybrid or electric cars
- adopting a plant based or vegan diet
- composting trash such as food scraps and some forms of paper because this feeds the soil rather than going to landfills and being wasted
- women may opt for a reusable menstrual cup rather than disposable pads
- preparing their own food and limiting dining out
- creating a small zero waste kit of items to use when at restaurants to avoid using disposable straws or napkins
- creating their own soaps, deoderants and toothpaste rather than buying ones with environmentally harmful chemicals in them
- using solar energy
Of course going zero waste does not mean completely eliminating all trash in your home or life. It is rather obvious that this will be nearly impossible, if not completely impossible to do. However, slowly adopting as many zero waste practices as possible for you, such as these, will make a big difference in helping to mitigate the growth of climate change strength and the subsequent problems it will bring. If half the population tried going zero waste, the benefits for the planet would be enormous. Individuals inspire other individuals, so don’t discourage yourself from trying simply because most people aren’t. With that mindset nothing will change, and change is needed to respond properly to climate change. If one person tries zero waste, more will be inspired to do so, as is currently happening, and a movement will take place. If you’re Catholic try implementing a zero waste lifestyle starting this Lenten season. You may even save some money along the way!