5 tips to get started on a zero-waste lifestyle
Can you fit your daily trash in a mason jar?
Let’s do the math. A typical mason jar can hold about 500ml, which is the same volume as a medium size Gong Cha tea. Our daily trash may include bubble tea cups, takeaway containers, and plastic packing from online shopping deliveries.
While we might develop ninja packing skills from learning how to squeeze all of that into a mason jar, it isn’t the focus. Rather, the zero-waste lifestyle aims to eliminate waste from landfills. It is a fancier way of spelling out the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But having such an attitude means being more mindful about what we throw out, and taking active steps to significantly reduce the amount of trash we produce.
The result: we consume less, minimise waste, and save money as a happy by-product.
So, how can we get started? We spoke to Stephanie Dickson, Founder of Green is the New Black, and organiser of The Conscious Festival, on practical ways to do so.
“A great start is to look at the amount of trash you are producing in your home. Look at the ones that are unnecessary and think about how you can reduce it,” says Stephanie.
By looking at our own consumption habits, we can notice the usual suspects and may discover ways to reduce waste at home. In the average Singapore household, plastic waste make up the biggest source of waste, followed by food, then paper and cardboard.
What are your top three?
The carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide that our activities produce - from the things we eat, the way we travel, and how often we drive.
By itself, carbon dioxide is not harmful. Plants need it to make food and produce oxygen. However, too much of it is bad for the environment as the earth begins to overheat.
Online calculators can give a rough estimate of our personal carbon footprint. What is your carbon footprint?
To go a step further, try to offset or reduce your footprint. An easy way is to go green with your banking activities. Choose e-statements, go cashless, and use fewer cheques.
Another way of reducing your carbon footprint is to bring your own reusables. “When you leave the house, you will almost always remember to take your phone, wallet and keys. So, tweak that habit and bring a reusable water bottle with you or cutlery if you’re heading to the hawker for example,” says Stephanie.
We throw out 4.8 million plastic items each day in Singapore. By bringing our own reusable straws or water bottles, we can help reduce our daily usage of 2.2 million plastic straws and 1.27 million polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.
Go green one day each week. Stephanie recommends skipping meat, refusing to buy anything you don’t need, and recycling everything that cannot be avoided.
Our diet is one of the most overlooked consumption habits. Heavy meat eaters unknowingly produce twice as much CO2 than vegetarians. Going vegetarian for even just one day a week allows us to reduce our carbon footprint.
One more area is to change our clothes-shopping habits. The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world and produces more greenhouse emissions than international flights and shipping combined.
To be stylish yet eco-friendly, Stephanie suggests swapping with friends, buying second-hand on Carousell for example, upcycling, or borrowing instead of buying.
If you are buying, Stephanie suggests purchasing only what you really need and supporting brands that are environmentally friendly and ethical. When decluttering, consider dropping items off at the various charities, or selling them on Carousell.
Pledge to Recycle More, Waste Less
Inspired? Join us by pledging to make simple changes such as saying “no” to straws, or bringing your own tupperwares. #RecyclemoreWasteLess. The power is yours!
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