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7 Practical Ways You Can Reduce Your Waste & Impact On The Environment

To many, the idea of living a zero waste lifestyle and having minimal impact on the environment can sound completely unattainable, however, at Eco at Heart, we believe individuals have the power to create positive change just by thinking about the consumer choices they make. 

Transitioning from a modern lifestyle to one that is environmentally friendly is more of a journey than a destination and it doesn’t mean you have to live without luxuries or essentials.  Instead, it’s a conscious approach to your lifestyle, habits and purchase decisions.  Not only will you reduce your own ecological footprint, but by switching to a zero waste and eco-friendly lifestyle, you’ll also save money and inspire others to make a positive impact on the planet.  Here’s how:

 1. Educate Yourself on Social & Environmental Issues

Sustainability and waste management, as well as eco-friendly living in general, are extremely complex topics and there is so much to consider when following the path to becoming a conscious citizen and consumer.  If you’re not into endlessly researching environmental and social issues, try reading a book, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries or read an online platform, like Eco at Heart’s blog, to become aware of global and local environmental issues and how you can help.

 2. Phase out Single-use Plastic

Single-use plastic is everywhere and it’s embedded into our everyday lives.  Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are those items which are only used once before they are thrown away or recycled.  They include plastic bags, straws, coffee cups, water bottles and the majority of food packaging.  Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once before being thrown away.  Start phasing out single-use plastics by undertaking a waste assessment and audit of the things you use and buy regularly and decide what ones can be eliminated and replaced with reusables.

 

3. Use Things You Already Have

When starting your zero waste journey, it’s easy to believe you need to purchase an endless amount of new items or products for success.  While you will most likely need essential pieces, don’t get sucked into purchasing too many new and poor quality items.  The zero waste movement has a foundation of minimalism and using what you already have.  So, pull together all the reusable bags and glass containers you already own and purchase the rest thoughtfully and ethically.

 

4. Make Simple Sustainable Swaps

Once you’ve used up or collected what you already own, it’s then time to make some simple sustainable purchasing swaps.  It’s easiest to start with the big four – plastic shopping bag, plastic straws, disposable coffee cups and single-use plastic water bottles.  You most likely already own reusable shopping bags and a drink bottle, so it’s just a matter of remembering to bring it with you on your travels.  If you’ve realised you can’t go without a straw in your morning smoothie, check out the Eco at Heart store for 5 Pack of Bent Smoothie Straws.

 

5. Buy Less, Buy Well, Buy Second-hand

When purchasing something new during your transition towards a zero waste lifestyle, try to check out your local second-hand store first.  Pre-loved and vintage pieces have a lot more character, come with a story and will not only save resources but also save you money.  One person’s trash is another one’s treasure.

 

If you can’t find an item second-hand or for personal hygiene reasons you’d prefer to purchase new, research eco-friendly brands to support that have sustainability at their core.  Being intentional about the businesses you choose to support ensures less impact on the planet during the process of manufacture and these products are also likely to be of greater quality, than those bought cheaply.

 

6. DIY                                                  

If you’re a creative person, why not give DIY a go?  When making things yourself, you’re more likely to know the ingredients in your homemade products have been sourced sustainably and you can be sure they come package-free.  It is also a fantastic way to stick to natural beauty products and healthy and nutritious recipes.

             

7. Volunteer within your Local Community & Take Part in Clean Ups  

Whether you take part in an afternoon beach clean-up or pick up rubbish on your morning run, volunteering your time is one of the most effective ways to give back to your community, participate in local events and contribute to a zero waste and healthier planet as a whole.  Volunteering also has the additional benefit of spreading awareness and inspiring others to create positive change too.

Back to Basics: A Zero Waste Guide for Beginners

 

I’m sure you’ve heard of expressions such as “zero waste lifestyle” or “eco-friendly living” and you might be wondering, what do they actually mean? Not to stress, Eco at Heart has created a beginners guide on what zero waste is, how the movement started and how to tread a little lighter on the planet, without becoming completely overwhelmed.

                                                                           

WHAT IS ZERO WASTE?

 

What started off as a term only used by government bodies, is now one of the biggest buzzwords of our time.  Zero waste encourages the redesign of a product’s lifestyle, so all resources can be reused or upcycled.  To be put more simply, it can be defined as sending nothing to landfill.  Zero waste aims to transition individuals, small and large businesses, organisations and governments to a circular economy.  If you’re not familiar with the circular economy concept, it’s an alternative to the traditional linear economy that aims to keep products in use for as long as possible. This process extracts the maximum value from a product, and then the resources and materials used are recovered and regenerated at the end of the product’s lifecycle.  Both zero waste and the circular economy aim to create a sustainable future.

 

Now, you may be thinking, this sounds great, but what’s the harm in sending my rubbish to landfill? Well, with rapid population growth and urbanisation, it’s estimated that waste generation will increase from 2.01 billion tonnes in 2016 to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050, with 33% of this waste already being mismanaged globally through open dumping or burning. 

Unsustainable management of waste is contaminating the world’s oceans, clogging drains and causing flooding, transmitting diseases, increasing respiratory problems and other health problems in individuals from burning, harming wildlife such as birds and turtles that consume waste unknowingly, and affecting economic development, through industries such as tourism.

 

THE ZERO WASTE LIFESTYLE MOVEMENT


Individuals around the world are currently taking sustainability into their own hands in order to create a healthy and thriving future for us all.  They are at the forefront of a conscious movement that has successfully contributed to the decline of wasteful and unsustainable packaging of products and produce worldwide. Their efforts have led to reduced litter and rubbish in natural environments through the refusal to buy or accept single-use plastics as well as actively taking part in clean ups. One of the latest trends in reducing waste is through adopting a minimalist mindset in which a person only buys and owns what they really need and ensures these investments are good quality, long-term products.

 

But these actions aren’t new ideas and zero waste living isn’t really a new concept, it’s actually old school.  Our grandparents lived sustainably every day, they just didn’t use trendy words and hashtags – it was just considered the norm.  Safety razors, handkerchiefs, glass milk containers, reusable woven shopping bags, daily fresh produce, hand-me-downs, DIYs and buying in bulk to save money, are all a blast from the past!

STARTING YOUR ZERO WASTE LIFESTYLE JOURNEY

 

Although zero waste is the goal of this movement, it’s important to remember that generating absolutely “zero waste” is close to impossible as so many things are actually out of our individual control. 

One person’s actions and commitments may look different to someone else’s, but this doesn’t mean one is ‘more right’ thank another.  If you live in the city, you most likely have more access to bulk food stores, however, if you’re located in a rural town, you have the option to purchase and consume food closer to home.  So, instead of aiming to produce 0% rubbish, choose to live a zero waste lifestyle to lower your impact on the environment in the best way you can.  Do your little bit of good for the planet with things you already own, where you are and what you have access to, rather than completely sacrificing your current lifestyle needs and health.