We’re in a climate change crisis and at this point, you’ve most likely heard about the zero waste lifestyle, #vanlife and the ban of plastic straws. Change is necessary for the survival of our planet, no matter which way we look at it. All around the world, we’re seeing the overwhelming effects of climate change and how vulnerable communities are hit the hardest.
And while we’re on high alert about global consumption and Earth’s finite resources, why not attempt to lower your carbon footprint with some low waste tips?
Thanks to the internet and social media, we have constant access to the news about climate change, natural disasters and how the world is changing because of our consumption. This in turn, has triggered a spate of eco-anxiety around the globe. But there is hope and in order to make a difference, those of us who can need to speak up to our local politicians, governments and make our voices heard.
Small, simple changes usually lead to a lifestyle overhaul. All The Pretty Birds’ director of business and brand Roki Prunali explains that zero-waste is a lifestyle, not simply a vow to cut down on plastic consumption. She further explains that it really means adopting a minimalistic approach to living and breaking away from the idea of “things”, but focusing instead on experiences.
Here’s a list of some things you can do to transition into a low-waste lifestyle before the new year comes around.
Reusable water bottles and filters
Yes, we’re all trying to stay hydrated. Drinking more water means improved overall health for your body and who wants to be thirsty? While pricey water bottles are all the rage – you don’t need to purchase a particular one if it won’t serve your day-to-day life. Swap out your plastic one for a water filter on your tap or in your fridge and save some cash. You can reuse any old glass water bottle you find, simply clean it thoroughly and add it to your kit. Just be sure not to break it!
Get your coffee/chai/matcha fix sorted
Ah, coffee, the business that keeps on giving. According to HowStuffWorks over 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world per year, 450 million of which is from the United States alone. And that means a whole lot of discarded, non-biodegradable cups tossed into landfills. Now we’re not saying don’t enjoy a steaming (or iced) cup to start your day – but consider how you can change your consumption. Add a reusable coffee cup to your kit, or take a mug along with you, most places allow you to bring your own.
Take your cutlery and containers with you
There’s nothing wrong with grabbing some takeaway meals every now and then but plastic cutlery and takeaway boxes contribute to overall plastic waste. According to The Guardian, while virtually all plastics can be recycled, many aren’t because the process is expensive, complicated and the resulting product is of lower quality than what you put in.
Most eateries and restaurants are opting to provide their customers with alternatives but you can skip that step and just bring along your own cutlery. Whether you’ve got a wooden set, some cutlery from home or your own chopsticks – add this to your kit. And while you’re there grab a plastic or stainless steel container for your lunch and keep them around in your general vicinity. If you’re eating out, instead of asking for takeaway boxes, come prepped with your own container. Pro-tip: keep a set at your office or workspace too, just in case you forget.
Totes on totes on totes
We’re on the go, all the time and that means going from home to work, commuting and sometimes going past a supermarket to grab some produce before you cook. Most major retailers have swapped over their plastic bags to paper bags – but you can come prepared with a tote. Totes are easy enough to find, don’t cost a ton and better for the environment. It’s a habit worth building. Pop one into your work bag, have one at your desk and keep a few at your home when you do grocery shopping.
Rethink your period products
If you’re a person who has a period – you know what that all entails. From pads, to painkillers and general discomfort, there’s so many factors to think about. But if you’re worried about how these products are potentially harmful to the environment, why not swap them out? Many opt for the menstrual cup, a reusable item that can be washed, sanitized and has a shelf-life of around10 years. If that doesn’t seem like your cup of matcha, you can try reusable fabric pads that are washable and can be worn over and over again. Lastly, if you can’t see yourself changing over, consider using organic tampons or pads.
Use what you have and reflect on your consumption
The most cost-effective way to transition to a zero or low waste lifestyle is use the stuff you already have in your home. You don’t need a fancy wooden cutlery set, when you already have perfectly good cutlery to take around with you. Don’t spend money before you’ve assessed your own belongings. There’s a certain aesthetic associated with zero-waste, lots of neutrals, a fancy takeaway coffee cup, water bottle or the perfect stainless steel straw. You’re here to lower your waste and what you already own gets the job done. And should that break or no longer work, then you can consider purchasing a new product or two.
And whether you stick to using your zero-waste kit or not – you’re way more knowledgeable about what your options are. After all, an informed consumer is a better one for the planet.