We, humans, are causing extraordinary damage to the environment and destroying the Earth’s wilderness. But, our choices as an individual can help to reduce that impact. Creating a zero-waste home could greatly help. Helen O’Keeffe of EZ Living Interiors created an infographic showing 10 actionable tips to create a zero-waste home.
What is a zero-waste home?
Zero-waste is the conservation of resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health. Reference: Zero-Waste International Alliance (ZWIA)
When I got started, people were saying what you do doesn’t really matter. What really matters is what the politicians do and it’s what the manufacturers do and we’ve been able to prove the opposite.Ben Johnson of the Zero-Waste Movement and the author of “Zero-Waste Home”.
Why Should We Aim for a Zero-Waste Home?
It is predicted by 2050 that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. The zero-waste living will reduce the amount of waste that is contaminating the homes of our marine neighbors.
The European Union wants to reduce biodegradable municipal waste by 33% compared with 1995 levels.
The U.S. EPA has estimated approximately 42% of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the production and use of goods, including food, products & packaging.
Reducing and reusing mean fewer products are made, as people buy less and as products are more sustainable.
The 5 R’s of Zero Waste
Everything we use has an environmental cost and consequence so it’s important to be mindful, now more than ever about this, so these are the 5 Rs of the Zero Waste principle:
Make small changes such as using a reusable water bottle rather than buying new bottled water, taking reusable bags to the supermarket, placing a “no junk mail” on your letterbox. Small changes matter.
Being conscious of what you use in terms of single-use plastics will mean you will think about each purchase. Always try to reduce your reliance on unnecessary plastic so for example, buy loose vegetables and fruit.
Declutter your home, and donate the excess to charity for others to reuse. Only invest in quality furniture in your home that has a classic look and is durable.
3. Reuse (& Repair)
Start small, so buy a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. Repair worn shoes rather than buying new pairs. Reuse old curtains to make cushions, throws, or patchwork quilts.
Being aware of what you can and cannot recycle is important and sometimes it can be confusing. If in doubt check out recycling support websites where there will be FAQs. Items like electronics, batteries, light bulbs, etc do have specific places where they can be taken to so check where your local center is located.
Instead of discarding food scraps in the general waste bin, create a compost heap and you can use it to bed flowering plants and shrubs in the Spring.
5 Actionable Ways to Reduce Waste
- Go food shopping with a list, plan meals, and utilize leftovers.
- Declutter your wardrobe, giving anything you don’t need/want or no longer fits in charity shops.
- Declutter your garage, loft, or attic as it’s likely filled with many items you no longer require.
- Keep cloth bags or wooden crates in your car for any expected shopping to negate the need for plastic bags.
- Give the gift of experiences eg vouchers for restaurants, cinema, concerts, walking tours, and adventure activities as opposed to physical products like plastic kid’s toys or plastic gadgets.
Infographic created by Helen O’Keeffe of EZ Living Interiors
- “Ten tips for a zero-waste home” by Bea Johnson on penguin.co.uk
- Zero waste living: ‘You regret not starting earlier – you see your whole life as a waste of money and time’ on thejournal.ie
- “The zero-waste lifestyle” on the Irish Times website
- Benefits of Zero Waste on the Toronto Environment website