Building a Zero-Waste Lifestyle
With the effects of climate change being felt more and more with each passing year, we’re quickly reaching a point where people need to change their everyday habits. Though the greatest producers of greenhouse gas emissions are most at fault, everyone around the world needs to learn how to take action and do their part to make a change. Some people will help on a limited basis by recycling and using reusable grocery bags. Others are taking their environmental responsibility to a whole new level by building a zero-waste lifestyle.
In essence, this lifestyle requires considering how you can live day-to-day while wasting as few resources as possible. This isn’t a change that can be made overnight, but with dedication and smart decisions, you can create a zero-waste lifestyle for your whole family.
Here are a few tips to help you start building a zero-waste lifestyle:
Get Your Family Involved
The goal of the zero-waste lifestyle is to have every household do their part to limit trash and excess waste. If every home in the U.S. could do that, imagine the major impact it would make! Zero-waste is a team effort. To get your family involved and on the same page, it’s important to sit them down and talk about why you’re making this change and how it will benefit the planet.
Explain to them the harmful effects of climate change and how the deteriorating quality of our planet and the air we breathe can negatively affect our health. Explain all of the reasons why this may happen. It isn’t only about exhaust fumes. When we load our landfills with unnecessary trash, the garbage sits in place for years to come, and it leads to greenhouse emissions. Our water supply is also in danger because when waste piles up in landfills, dangerous toxins can seep into our soil and create run-off into our waterways.
Parents can introduce waste-reducing solutions where everyone in the family can be involved. Some examples include:
- Purchasing reusable glass or metal water bottles for the whole family.
- Limit the usage of electronics
- Take shorter showers and keep the water off in the sinks while brushing teeth.
Most of all, this means reducing, reusing, and recycling everything you can. In addition to recycling, your family can also compost biodegradable materials to further eliminate unnecessary waste.
Change How You Shop
Your family can eliminate a ton of wasteful behaviors by being smart about how you shop, or more importantly, how you can eliminate shopping in the first place. You may not realize it, but there are many items available at the store you can make at home. Such items include everything from clothes and toys to chemical solutions including homemade laundry detergent, deodorant, and dog food. You can also make homemade, eco-friendly cleaners so you can keep a clean home without creating waste.
When it comes to meals, many of the healthiest foods you can eat can be grown at home in your own garden. We all know vegetables like carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes can be produced from a garden, but did you know you can also grow scallions, lemongrass, and even mustard in your backyard? Not only will you reduce waste, but gardening is a great activity for the kids as they can see a tiny seed grow into a strong plant right before their eyes.
If you have to buy new items, be smart about what you purchase. If you can’t grow certain foods in a garden, try to buy them from local farmers. This will stimulate your local economy, cut back on unnecessary packaging, and reduce the need for large trucks to transport these goods across the country.
If you’re shopping for clothes or non-perishable items, consider trying your local second-hand and thrift shops to find exactly what you need. By reusing what already exists, you’re reducing the need for large companies to waste resources creating new products. Also, if you love your current clothes, but they have holes or marks, consider sewing or otherwise repairing the garments so you can keep wearing what you love while also eliminating the need to throw them out.
Eliminate Energy Waste
While you are reducing physical waste, you can also take a large chunk out of your electricity and energy usage by transitioning to renewable energy. Many renewable energy engineers have been talking about the danger of our world’s addiction to fossil fuels to power our homes and vehicles, and their findings are frightening. These experts have been studying this for years and have found 84% of our energy comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels lead to carbon dioxide emissions and contribute to global climate change. If that wasn’t enough, the pollutants fossil fuels create can also be a culprit in dangerous air quality.
Though you may be limited to the types of renewable energy you can use in your home, one big change you can make is by going solar. When you place solar panels on your roof, you’re getting your electricity directly from the sun instead of the electric company. Solar panels can last up to 30 years with limited maintenance and you’ll save money! The cost of solar goes down the longer you own the panels, and you may only be required to pay the electric company a small fee to stay on the grid in case of an emergency.
It’s important to save energy whenever you can to eliminate fossil fuels. When commuting to work or school, consider biking or walking to further cut down on gas usage. At home, you can reduce energy usage by keeping lights off when necessary and using windows for bright, vivid natural light as it doesn’t cost a thing.
As you can see, there are many ways you can start your journey to a complete zero-waste lifestyle. Your efforts will save you money and contribute to a cleaner world.