As the global production of waste is sending more and more stuff to the landfill, it’s never been more important for every one of us to pick up more sustainable habits to reduce our contribution to this environmental threat. Learning to reduce, reuse and recycle – three of the main principles of zero waste living – can be one of the best ways to do so.
In an earlier series we discussed some of our lessons learned for reducing waste on our zero impact journey and several of our top recycling tricks. But for today’s article, we’ve prepared a series of our top tips for sustainable living, which will help you cultivate long-term zero waste habits by reducing, reusing and recycling.
Say no to freebies
One of the simplest and best sustainable habits to cultivate is simply learning to refuse freebies. Whether they be leaflets, promotional items or goody bags, don’t take them unless you’d be willing to pay for them if they weren’t free.
This way, you aren’t just reducing your personal footprint and clutter in your home – you’re also reducing the demand for wasteful freebies and helping the world as a whole move towards zero waste.
Make a wish list
Often, when we first pick up sustainable living, it takes some time for our loved ones to come on board. One area where that can affect your footprint is receiving gifts. There are two ways to reduce the footprint of the gifts you receive.
Firstly, make a simple wish list for your loved ones to get ideas from. It’s not selfish – it actually helps them give you the gifts you’ll use! Secondly, if you do receive gifts that don’t align with a zero waste lifestyle, get the best possible use for them and don’t throw them away.
Pick up upcycling
You can give items you’re not using a new life by upcycling them. Before you throw something away, think about how else it could be used in your home.
If you’re looking for simple and straightforward zero waste solutions, turn your pasta sauce jars into herb planters or label them for dry food storage. If you’re feeling creative, why not try turning an old pair of jeans into a skirt? The opportunities are endless.
Opt for reusable alternatives
Whenever you’re buying a new item, choose the reusable, rather than single-use option. Such simple sustainable habits will soon become second nature and you’ll always find yourself reaching for the zero waste alternatives.
You can now find zero waste, reusable options for nearly anything – from shopping bags to menstrual products!
Reduce your plastic consumption
Many materials can be recycled, but plastic recycling is complicated at best. Only 9% of all plastic gets recycled and that which does can only go through the process once. Therefore, the best way to dispose of plastic is not to bring it into your home in the first place.
Instead, opt for more sustainable materials. Metals and glass are especially good for reducing the amount of waste going to landfills, as they can be recycled indefinitely!
Speaking of recycling, learn to do it correctly. What constitutes correct recycling varies from place to place, so read up on your local recycling instructions to ensure you’re getting it right.
It’s important to avoid wishful recycling – adding items that can’t be recycled into the recycling bin in the hopes that perhaps, they’ll be recycled anyways. However, they never will be, they’ll just add more work for the recycling facility staff to do, increasing the cost of recycling.
Find new uses for old items
There are some unsustainable items in your home that you likely won’t want to use for their original purpose. Firstly, it’s important not to replace all plastic in your home with reusable alternatives on day 1 of your sustainability journey. Instead, make the best use of what you have and then discard it.
That being said, some plastic items, such as food storage containers, become unsafe to use for their original purpose after a while but can still find use elsewhere in your home. In the food container example, they could become a storage solution for your cables!
Go digital & paperless
Most of us already relying on a lot of technology for work, school or entertainment. Most of us own smartphones and computers, yet we still use a lot of paper for other purposes.
We could decrease our impact on the environment substantially if we simply went paperless and digitalised all of our notes or paperwork. Additionally, do your best to buy copies of movies, games, music or other entertainment digitally – there’s no need for using discs anymore!