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How to start a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Pearl Bacasmas
Learn how to reduce waste and lead a sustainable lifestyle

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MANILA, Philippines – Want to do your part in saving the earth from the effects of climate change? Start with cutting back on your trash.

A zero-waste lifestyle approach conserves natural resources and reduces pollution from manufacturing and disposal of products. Fewer products are made, and made to last, so people consume less. 

NYU environmental science major Lauren Singer is an advocate of the movement – she is most popular for being able to fit all her waste for the past 4 years inside a 16 oz. mason jar. She began reducing her waste in 2012 when she realized how much plastic she uses in her household alone. Lauren decided to quit using plastic products and started a sustainable lifestyle by minimizing her needs.

According to Lauren, the first step in adopting a zero-waste lifestyle is to accept that it doesn’t necessarily mean you are not allowed to create trash. Going zero-waste means aiming to reduce waste to a bare minimum – a worthy goal considering a single plastic bag could take up to 10 years or more to decompose.

Leading a zero-waste lifestyle is about living simply, being disciplined about your choices, and taking everything at your own pace. Here are a few tips – and products – to get you started.

Keep your kitchen simple

Zero-waste lifestyle pioneer Bea Johnson noted that the most important place to start waste reduction is in the kitchen. Start simple by skipping paper towels and using washable rags to clean up or dry any spills. Swap the kitchen sponge – which is a bacteria magnet to boot – with a sustainable bamboo kitchen brush so you won’t have to change it every week. You can even reduce your food waste by growing produce in your own backyard. Buy essentials in bulk to minimize plastic packaging and save yourself multiple trips to the grocery store.

Say no to plastics

The Philippines has the highest trash collection rate in Southeast Asia and is the world’s third biggest contributor of plastic pollution. Over 521,000 tons of that waste ends up in oceans. By eliminating products with plastic packaging and using reusable bags or containers instead, you can help reduce the country’s output of  2.7 million metric tons of plastic garbage each year.

Phase out single-use products

Styrofoam containers, coffee cups, and straws – you only use these once, but they stay on earth practically forever after you throw them out. Swap these disposable items for reusable ones. Keep a stainless steel straw in your bag along with a tumbler which you can use for drinks to-go. At work, save money by opting for packed lunches inside microwavable glass containers.

DIY what you can

Instead of buying new cleaning materials, why not try making your own? Store-bought cleaning products may contain harmful chemicals and come in excess plastic packaging. Vinegar, lemon, and baking soda can get your house sparkling clean with less waste. You can save even more by making your own skin care products using common household ingredients.

Buy less, invest instead

Look for products that pull the double duty or can be reused over and over again. Consider investing in a menstrual cup and a stainless steel razor. Not only are these alternatives more environment-friendly, they are also safer and more affordable in the long run than their standard counterparts.

Next time you purchase something, consider its full life-cycle. Think about where it came from and where it’s going after you’re through with it.

Transitioning to a zero-waste lifestyle won’t happen overnight. It may seem somewhat daunting but it can be a liberating process. – Rappler.com

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