Hearing zero in “zero waste” can make it sound scary and hard to achieve.
To achieve this it is not as hard as you may think it seems.
The 5 R’s are Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot.
Refuse- What you do not need
Reduce- What you do need
Reuse- By using reusables
Recycle- What you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse
Rot- Compost the rest
Refuse This is the first step to minimising the amount of waste that is entering your home. This step involves saying “no” to waste in the form of single use disposables like bags, cups, straws as well as junk mail, promotional freebies and other short-lived non essentials that will end up in the garbage bin.
Saying “no” can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to come across harsh, a friendly but firm no “thank you” will be fine.
Reduce This step is all about getting clear about what you need and simply cutting back on what you don’t need.
The term zero waste could mean letting go of household items that are no longer of use, so to alleviate the clutter, donating or selling could be the answer, this will also create space.
Reducing can also mean shopping with a purpose and focusing on necessary purchases over random splurges on things that you don’t really need. To often the random splurge items quickly end up in the garbage bin and back in landfill.
Reuse I find this one to be the fun one!
This basically means switching your disposable Items for reusable and permanent alternatives. This means sourcing a reusable coffee cup, carrying reusable cutlery around, using a refillable glass or stainless steel water bottle, taking reusable shopping bags and produce bags when out shopping.
Jars can serve well as bulk food storage, toothpaste and toothbrush holder, drinking glass, so many ways to reuse jars!
Recycle Now let’s get clear on the true place of recycling in the waste management hierarchy. There may be some mental reprogramming involved here. Most of us have been programmed to believe that recycling is the go-to solution for waste reduction. This is a misconception.
In it’s current state recycling is quite limited in and in most cases it actually consists of “downcycling” recyclable materials into low quality, disposable goods that will end up in the waste stream.
The recycling infrastructure cannot keep pace with the huge quantities of single-use disposables consumed and disposed of by humans at a record speed.
Recyclable materials that are not successfully recycled into new products end up in landfill.
Rot COMPOST! If you are not in a municipality that have a green organic bin program, welcome to the world of home composting!
There are a few possibilities to compost your own household waste.
First is an outdoor compost, this can be in the form of a pile, a box or a unit that you can purchase or build yourself.
The other option is an indoor compost. Vericomposting is one idea. This allows thousands of worms to transform your organic waste into mineral rich soil for your garden in the comfort of your own home! This does not overly smell, it has mild smell of hay and fresh earth.
Now if worms are out of your comfort zone, why don’t you consider the Bokaski indoor composting system, this relies on bacterial fermentation to produce pre-digested garden compost.
What can I Compost?
It will depend on what system you choose, the Bokaski system allows a wide range of food scraps, this includes meat, dairy, citrus and fish.
For the outdoor composting and vermicomposts you are unable to compost meat, dairy, fish, pasta, processed bread or citrus.
So what can you compost you ask?
You can compost plant materials like veggie scraps, non citrus fruit peels and seeds, nut shells, egg shells, ground coffee, loose tea, brown paper, non chemically processed hair, unpolished nail clippings and fireplace ashes.
Once you have got this in place no matter the system you are using, watch your household waste output shrink before your eyes