Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by Chandler Bing
//This blog is updated in 2021//
According to the Global Waste Management Conference, the world generates 1.3 billion tonnes of waste annually, which can lead to serious environmental and land-use issues as the landfill capacities get exceeded daily. To combat this rising phenomenon, zero waste lifestyle is the way to go in 2021.
What is a zero waste lifestyle?
It is to generate as little waste to the landfill and ocean as possible by re-using, reducing, recycling (also known as the 3 R’s of waste management) and composting waste. The history of zero waste living dates back to 2002, when a group of American environmentalists discovered the issues associated with waste and hence devoted themselves to zero waste lifestyles, forming the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA). As consumerism evolves, packaging plays a vital role in a product as it protects the hygienic state of the product, as well as improves the product’s overall aesthetic and attractiveness. But the amount of waste has increased drastically over the years, and over-packaging has become a prominent problem in most supermarkets and shops. Therefore, it’s important that we celebrate the zero waste lifestyle getting started!
How do we engage in a zero waste lifestyle?
The idea of it may sound daunting, but it can actually be easily achieved, starting at home! Keeping sustainability in mind, lifestyle change is important. With some guidance, you’ll be living the zero waste lifestyle in no time! This blog post covers all the zero waste home essentials that you’ll need, and some products as well as zero waste tips for beginners.
To everyone, there will always be ‘staples’ and ‘essentials’ for a space to be home. Take time to discover and focus on YOUR essentials for your zero waste home! For a zero-waste home, the basics are always reusable bags, containers, and utensils. Instead of repeatedly buying and disposing of plastic or paper cutleries, why not invest in sturdy, washable ones? This maximizes sustainability at home as you can be exactly clear of what you own and what you need. After a while, you will realize how much money you will have saved and will definitely have created a useful and clean home.
Now, how do we exactly go zero waste at home?
Before anything, it’s so important to understand the nature of each room like your living room, dining room, and kitchen are all responsible for their own, individual duties, so does your bedroom, bathroom, and pantry. By identifying their purposes, it will be easier to decide how to structure your zero waste home. To make things easier, we’ve prepared some effortless tips for you that you can follow at home for you and zero waste families.
How to achieve a Zero Waste Home Kitchen?
First of all, invest in a reusable bag that you like, such as cloth or synthetic fiber bags that cannot only contain all your shopping but also smaller ones that can bag your pasta and fruits. Reusable containers, such as sealable metal or glass jars, are vital essentials too as they can increase the longevity of your products. As for your disposable items and duplicates, don’t dispose them just yet – donate them instead! You can kill two birds with one stone as you declutter your space and help other people at the same time.
When you go shopping for your zero waste family, try head to the bulk-buy section as much as possible as the products there often come without packaging. Shopping at the farmer’s market helps too since the fresh produce won’t be packaged, and are often cheaper too! It’s also useful to write a shopping list and plan out what you need before shopping as that saves you from creating unnecessary waste in the long run when they expire.
It would be impossible to cook the perfect portion every time, but you can always seal up the leftovers and keep them in the refrigerator for the next day instead of binning them. Food scrap should be placed in the compost bin as they can actually reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the world. Some vegetable scraps can, in fact, be turned into tasty, healthy vegetable broth too! (stay tuned for some delicious recipes in the blog post) For those that cannot be decomposed, recycle as much as possible, but bear in mind that reusing always come before recycling since recycling still inevitably creates waste.
Hearty, Effortless Vegetable Broth Recipe
As mentioned, apart from composting vegetable scraps, you can also turn them into a big pot of delicious and hearty vegetable broth. It can be drunk on its own but also be used for cooking dishes such as noodles and risotto. There is just one thing to bear in mind when making vegetable broth with vegetable scraps: AVOID CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES! That includes those with four petals that resemble a “cross” (which is where they got their name from!), such as broccoli, cauliflowers and Brussel sprouts. Although they are packed with nutrients and tasty on their own, adding them to broths tend to give it a bitter taste.
Now, here is the recipe. Preparation is easy – simply put all the vegetable scraps throughout the week in a big bowl then keep it in the freezer until the bowl is full. Make sure they’re clean as the dirt may float around once it’s cooked. Place them into a big pot, add water until it covers the top, put the lid on, bring it to a boil then allow it to simmer for at least an hour until the aroma releases. The longer you simmer it, the richer the flavor, so you can let it simmer accordingly. Then voila – your broth is done! You can put it in a freezer-friendly reusable container for the leftovers and use it throughout the week. Here is a part of your cost-friendly and time-saving meal prep done!
How to achieve a Zero Waste Home Wardrobe?
You may probably be wondering why your wardrobe would produce waste since you wear clothes every single day so it should be the easy part of a zero-waste home, but the truth is: once a clothing item falls out of trend or becomes worn out, it’s very likely that you’ll either donate it or dispose of it. Nowadays, fast fashion has become a common and accessible product for the public due to their cheap prices and quick production. But it also encourages waste generation without you even knowing!
To avoid this mistake, you should first declutter your wardrobe, which is an essential tip of zero waste for beginners and it will help you with other aspects of your life. Take and lay every clothing piece you own and decide what you want to keep and what you won’t or hesitate to keep. After separating them into their separate piles, store the ones you want to keep, then donate the rest to your friends and family, or to charities for people who give them a second home. If a clothing item is too torn or broken, its fabrics can still be used for D.I.Y. pieces that you can do easily at home!
Next, focus on your wardrobe essentials, as you would in a zero waste lifestyle. Consider building a capsule wardrobe, where you invest in timeless and durable fashion pieces that will never go out of trend. Often, you’ll find that you can style them differently and still look effortlessly chic! Another tip is to buy from second-hand shops or vintage shops. They are often cheaper and also one-of-a-kind as you probably won’t be able to find them from anywhere else anymore! When you have time, why not venture out to vintage shops and discover the secret gems that could be yours?
Recycling fabric is an available but less accessible option in many countries, but there are always retailers that sell clothing items made with recycled fabric materials. With the help of the Internet, it’s easy to find ethical fashion retailers. Shopping ethically promotes environmental friendliness but also encourages fair trade. So, next time before you make a purchase, have a think about where to shop, and whether you need the item to build a wardrobe that is personalized, fashionable but also fully-utilized!
It’s undeniable that art enhances the aesthetics of a home and sets the mood effectively. But it’s also a hard truth that art has a certain novelty that will wear off over time. As art pieces and wall art gets less exciting, they become less noticeable and you’ll have to find a way to replace or relocate them. To take part in your zero waste lifestyle getting started, an alternative way to make your home a chic and personalized space without creating waste is to directly paint on the walls. Whether it is changing the wall paint or creating murals, it’s up to you what to put on the walls. Once you feel like changing it, you can always easily paint over it without having to consider its afterlife.
A touch of green can also never go wrong in a home. The sense of bliss when seeing a tiny sapling blossoming into a tall, healthy plant is always unbeatable, especially when you know you’re the one who nurtured it. Apart from improving the indoor air quality (especially in inner-city areas!), they can also completely transform your home. If you coordinate your plants with a beautiful plant pot or vase, they can be a centerpiece on a dining table with ease. You can also place them on walls, in your balcony or even start planting edible plants in your kitchen for cooking, such as herbs and chilies. Bear in mind that plants have lives and different longevities, so they can last a long time if the appropriate care is taken. When the time comes, they can also be decomposed and act as fertilizer for other plants, serving their amazing duty in a sustainable, zero waste home.
What are some D.I.Y products for a zero waste home?
As another useful tip of zero waste for beginners, you can have a go at D.I.Y products. Most of the products you use at home can actually be made yourself, and most of them quite quickly and easily too! For example, cleaning spray is a popular D.I.Y item that only requires essential oils, water, and distilled vinegar or soap. Not only can you create your own personal scent that you like, but you can also enjoy the benefits brought by these natural ingredients and avoid toxic chemicals in some industrial cleaning sprays too. By using a reusable spraying bottle, you’ll be one step closer to a fully zero waste home. Here are three products that you can D.I.Y for daily use.
- Zero Waste Shampoo
It may be difficult to imagine not using shop-bought shampoo, but the truth is they generate a lot of plastic waste and are very costly. Another downside is the number of chemicals they use – no matter how “natural” they claim to be, they often use some toxic chemicals due to their need for bulk production. To avoid that, you can D.I.Y your own personalized shampoo now for your zero waste bathroom!
What you’ll need:
- 2 tbsp of baking powder
- 2 cups of water
- Essential oil(s) of any flavor (s) that you like
- 500 mL/16 fl. oz reusable bottle (or any according to the amount you need)
Here is the recipe: (yields 16 fl. oz/500 mL of shampoo)
- Add baking powder and water
- Add 10 drops of essential oils of any flavor that you prefer
- Shake, shake, shake!
- Zero Waste Soap Bar
Soap bars are not only the closest to zero waste on their own but also more durable than liquid soap. If you want to go all-natural and zero waste, we’ve got your back. Not only are they easy to make but, they’re also super fun and can be gifted.
What you’ll need:
- 1 soap base
- Any herb(s) you like
- Essential oil(s) of any flavor (s) you like (about 15 drops per 500 g)
- A bowl
- A mold of any shape you like
Here’s the recipe:
- Place the soap base into the bowl and melt it in a microwave
- Add essential oil(s) and herb(s) into the melted soap base
- Pour the solution into your mold and let it cool
If you do have some time on a Sunday afternoon, try and experiment with all the different things that you can D.I.Y at home with your zero waste family. (Of course, safety always comes first!)
What are the best zero waste products and where can I get them?
Here are some products that can help your zero waste lifestyle getting started swiftly and make things easier! Most of the products are available from well-established e-commerce sites, such as Amazon and Taobao for users from different regions.
Made of organic cotton and beeswax, reusable food wraps are a staple to a zero waste home. They can be washed and dried for at least a year and composted after. It’s also sealed interestingly by using the heat of your hands – beeswax reacts to heat sensitively and thus will seal properly when you use your hands. Next time when you’ve got leftover, don’t rush to plastic wraps instantly – invest in some reusable food wrap that can save you money in the long term!
Sleek and durable, this reusable and recyclable mug is perfect for your to-go zero waste lifestyle. They come in different colors and sizes and also keeps your hot beverages warm. The mugs are also BPA-free, making them safe to use for people of all ages. With all these benefits, they are definitely worth your investment and also makes a thoughtful gift.
Restaurants from all over the world have started banning the use of plastic straws due to their harm to the ecosystem. So, why not support the movement by investing in reusable ones? They come in different colors and patterns, and most of them come with cleaning brushes and cases to keep them clean too. When you visit a restaurant or make drinks for your friends and family, use them and spread this positive awareness to them!
Your pet is also a part of your family, so it’s only natural that you take care of them and their needs too. However, most of the pet waste disposal bags on the market are not recyclable for lower costs of production. Worry not, as biodegradable pet waste bags are emerging in the market for your little family member now! Start replacing the old ones with biodegradable ones and do your part for your zero waste family.
Living in the twenty-first century doesn’t mean you’re confined to inevitably creating waste. It’s true that in a home, we generate a lot of waste, ranging from our daily food waste to the disposable materials from a major home renovation. However, most of the waste is unnecessary and you can still create a zero waste home if you put in a bit more effort each day. In the long run, this sustainable way of living will benefit the world we live in. Not only is it good for the environment, but it also brings surprising advantages to the economy and society too. As the landfill industry declines from limited space, there is a major increase in demand in the recycling, reducing and reusing industries. Engaging in the zero waste lifestyle also builds a sense of community amongst people, as most strategies that work best are community-based, such as urban farming. So, why not take action today and try creating a zero waste home for a better world?
If the tips for a zero waste home and lifestyle above helped you, or if you’re interested in a sustainable home renovation, click here to check out more interior design portfolios of one person design firms partnered with archiparti, feel free to get in touch for a quotation and more project advice.