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21 ideas to start your zero-waste journey right now

We bring you 21 ideas to start living a zero-waste life right now

What do you normally do with banana peels?

Do you throw it in the trash can for fruit flies to party on its surface? Or do you recycle this potassium, phosphorous, and calcium-rich substance? If you didn’t already know, banana peels make for amazing fertilizers for your plants, so perhaps approach number 2 would be the best way for you to go about disposing of your banana peels.

What we are trying to tell you here is that most times, caught up in the busy toil of our lives, we neglect a lot of the simple things we can do to reuse, reduce, and recycle the waste we produce. It is much easier to throw things that are used, or not needed anymore.

Our already overburdened waste management processes spiraled out of control during the COVID19 lockdown, to make matters worse. This was primarily due to the increase in the use of single-use plastic such as face masks, gloves, plastic accompanying home delivery of food/groceries, etc.

We are on the brink of a waste-induced emergency, and our consumption patterns are only adding to the problem.

Just look at the stats

Frost & Sullivan predicts that the United States could generate an entire year’s worth of medical waste in just two months because of COVID-19.

If that’s not scary enough:

According to the Thailand Environment Institute, plastic waste has increased from 1,500 tons to 6,300 tons per day, owing to the increase in home deliveries of food.

That doesn’t look good at all.

While we cannot help how we have to buy more sanitizers or masks, we have the power to decide how well we reduce unnecessary consumption, reuse things as much as we can, and recycle used objects instead of immediately disposing of them. With all of us contributors to the problem, we all have a responsibility to alleviate this crisis.

And we can guarantee that there are at least 21 things you can start doing right now to ease the strain you’re causing the planet. Just imagine the impact we can create if all of us lived a zero-waste lifestyle!

Zero-waste living doesn’t have to be full of grim sacrifices; it can be a lot of fun. There is a lot of awareness around reducing the usage of plastic but awareness often does not translate into action, because people don’t know where to start.

This April 22, we will officially celebrate our 51st Earth Day. Instead of limiting our celebrations to sharing posts about the Earth on social media, how about we go one step further and pledge to take actions that will make a difference?

As a part of our ‘#VolunteerToRestore with zero-waste campaign, we bring you 21 ideas to start living your zero-waste life right now.

21 ideas to start your zero-waste journey

The EPA estimates that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day.

That’s 1606 pounds per year. Can you imagine producing almost one ton less trash in a single year?

We can. The collective impact of all our actions is what will save us from the waste-induced emergency that’s looming upon us.

Without further delay, let’s get started on 21 easy ideas you can try right away to start your zero-waste lifestyle.

Pack your lunches and reduce eating out

If you’ve started going out to work again, ensure that you take your lunch with you too. Research says that take-away packages from ordering food from restaurants generate over 100 pounds of trash per year, per person. So, packing your lunch is a healthier, eco-friendly, and more affordable alternative.

Say NO to plastic water bottles

If you are someone who regularly buys plastic water bottles, we urge you to stop doing it right now. Only a very small portion of this gets recycled. Most of them would likely end up in the environment – in landfills or in your favorite lake right by the park. Invest in a water purifier at your home and always carry a bottle of water with you – this way you can just refill it every chance you get.

Bring out your inner mechanic

How many times have you thrown something in a trash pile just because it stopped working? From now, teach yourself repairing skills and fix your gadgets at home instead of throwing them out. If that’s not possible, get the help of a mechanic who can do it. Our desire for the latest technology and new gadgets has blinded us to the fact that we do not always need new shiny tech.

Find eco-friendly alternatives for everyday items

Use a neem comb instead of a plastic hairbrush. Use a safety razor instead of a disposable one. Use personal care products that come in eco-friendly packaging. Stop using cotton earbuds and wet wipes, and use reusable wipes instead. There are so many eco-friendly products out there, that you can use.

Gift sustainably

Have you noticed that it’s no longer enough for the host to be gifted, at most birthday parties? The host also gives a ‘return gift’ to everyone who has gifted him/her. The result? A heap of things that do nothing but take up space and end up in the ‘never to use again’ pile in a few days. Starting now, gift responsibly – think about innovative gifts that are eco-friendly or bio-degradable. Perhaps a potted plant? Or recyclable stationery? There are too many options to choose from.

Minimize food waste

We cannot stress this enough. With our lifestyles improving, a lot of time we end up buying what we do not need and ultimately waste them. Start by creating a weekly meal plan so that you do not end up buying more food products than you need. That’s not all, you can make your kitchen zero-waste by adopting habits such as buying milk in reusable containers and buying fruits and vegetables without plastic packages.

Go one step further and repurpose food scraps into pickles, jams, sauces, etc. If you didn’t know this yet, you can even recycle used cooking oil as lubricants and fuel!

Compost biodegradable waste

Let’s come back to the intro about the banana peel. Just like how we can compost and convert banana peels into manure for our plants, food waste can be used in myriad different ways to give you fruitful results. From using apple peels to make a great tea to using sour milk as a great fertilizer, see how you can reuse your food waste more responsibly. If composting is not an option for you, find a composter near you.

Consciously use your COVID-defense toolkit

While the face masks are helping us, they are also trashing our planet! We can of course not do away with them, so the only option here is to ensure that we use them optimally. Look for reusable face masks that can be disinfected at home – face masks made out of cotton is a good example. Masks that contain single-use need to be discarded after use, and do not make for a great eco-friendly product.

According to the Worldwide Wildlife Fund (WWF), “Even if only 1 percent of the masks were disposed of incorrectly…this would still result in 10 million masks dispersed in the environment per month. Considering that the weight of each mask is about 4 grams, this would result in the dispersion of over 40,000 kgs of plastic in nature.”

Avoid single-use plastic at all costs

Do you forget to carry a bag with you every time you go shopping? Then this is for you. Make it a practice to always carry a bag (canvas, cloth, or even recycled plastic) with you. If you’re at a nearby grocery store and you’ve forgotten the bag, see if you can go back and get it, instead of immediately buying one from the store. It’s tiresome, but at least you won’t repeat it!

Reduce reliance on sanitary napkins

Conventional sanitary napkins contain ~90% plastic, studies say. Due to this, they take 500-800 years to decompose. This is too huge a toll to ignore. Today, take a pledge to shift to more eco-friendly alternatives such as menstrual cups (proven to last for at least 5 years). For those who cannot use menstrual cups, the next viable option would be to use reusable sanitary napkins, that can be disinfected and used again.

Unplug electric devices when not in use

How often do you remember to turn the switch off after you’re done charging your laptops and phones? It would not be surprising to hear ‘never,’ because switches that are ‘perpetually’ turned on with a charging device connected have become a common sight ever since we’ve started working remotely. Take a conscious step towards unplugging your electric devices when they’re not in use.

Save water

Do you turn off the water tap as you brush? How long do you spend under the shower? How much water do you use while washing your cooking utensils? It’s easy to forget that a big part of the world doesn’t have access to clean drinking water, especially when we have an abundant supply of it. Stop consuming more water than you need.

Responsible transport

Before the pandemic, the quick solution to this would’ve been to avail public transport or do a carpool. But now with the distancing norms, we’d need to go about this a little more creatively. For shorter distances, always opt to walk, rather than drive. It’s healthier and saves fuel!

Buy consciously

Ever since online shopping opened up, we’ve been so used to ordering things that we need (and don’t need) at just the click of a button. Daily, we keep adding more to our already extensive wardrobe. Starting now, curb the desire to constantly shop and buy newer clothes/other items online. Pick up a book, learn newer ways to recycle old cloth – do anything that keeps you away from the urge to browse mindlessly and purchase unnecessarily.

Estimates show that the average American throws away around 37kg of clothes every year. By 2030, we are expected as a whole to be discarding over 134 million tonnes of textiles a year.

Change your light bulbs to LEDs

As you probably already know, LED lights will reduce energy consumption by a great deal, compared to their counterparts. It does not contain mercury and is even recyclable! The initial investment for high-quality LED lights will eventually save you money in the long run – just consider the cost savings in maintenance, energy savings, and light savings.

Be a part of the sharing economy

In simple terms, a sharing economy is an economic model which is usually defined by the peer-to-peer sharing of goods and services. A good example would be the local library. Instead of buying a new book every time, you can opt to rent one at the library and return it when you are done reading. Executed right, the sharing model can change consumption patterns significantly.

Carry a small bag with you for waste disposal

It is always a good practice to carry a handy waste disposal bag with you whenever you venture out of your house. It helps you collect and store any waste you create – wrappers, paper bills, tissues, you name it  – and prevents the irresponsible spreading of garbage.

Use handkerchiefs and fewer tissues

Tissues are very easy to use. And easy to dispose of. However, this ‘use and throw’ concept is not very sustainable. We urge you to make a trade-off and choose sustainability over ease of use. Use handkerchiefs instead, like we used to do in the good old days. Unlike tissues, they are reusable and long-lasting.

Give away stuff that you do not need

Over the years, we undoubtedly accumulate a lot of objects– many of which we might not want to use anymore. Perhaps it’s because you’ve used it too many times. Or because you do not need it anymore. Instead of dumping it at your home or throwing it away, consider giving it away to people who need it. Numerous non-profits will help you do that.

Create a community

Creating and sustaining habits is difficult. Especially if you do not have someone urging you to do certain things, boredom tends to kick in and you might lose your interest to do it. Yes, we are also talking about your exercise patterns. See you! Jokes aside, as you start your zero-waste journey, find a group of like-minded individuals who can join in this journey with you – be it your family, your team at work, your friends – anyone. This way, you have a network of people ready to uplift you whenever you feel like quitting the zero-waste journey.

Go paperless for all your bills

Most of us do not notice that slight ‘krrr’ sound an atm reader makes every time it pushes out a bill slip. Many times, we do not even remember to collect it in our hurry to rush out of the grocery store and sanitize ourselves from head to toe. Starting today, be conscious of it. Say ‘NO’ loud and clear to paper bills and opt for an e-bill whenever possible and rely on your phone to verify the amount deducted.

Create a community

Creating and sustaining habits is difficult. Especially if you do not have someone urging you to do certain things, boredom tends to kick in and you might lose your interest to do it. Yes, we are also talking about your exercise patterns. See you! Jokes aside, as you start your zero-waste journey, find a group of like-minded individuals who can join in this journey with you – be it your family, your team at work, your friends – anyone. This way, you have a network of people ready to uplift you whenever you feel like quitting the zero-waste journey.

So, what in this list have you already started doing?

This April, we at Goodera have taken a pledge to restore our planet through a zero-waste lifestyle. Join this journey with us and in no time, you’ll see yourself subconsciously carrying bottles with you, saying no to paper bills, reducing mindless consumption, and asking for eco-friendly alternatives every chance you get.

By adopting the zero-waste lifestyle, we can guarantee that you will reduce your ecological footprint, save money, and leave the world a better place for the next generation.

#VolunteerToRestore planet Earth with Goodera this April. If you have pictures to share or stories to show about your zero-waste journey, please share them with us. We would love to give you a shout-out on social media and spread your inspirational message!

A small step taken by you today can eventually become a giant stride for humanity. Start your zero-waste journey today.

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