While recycling is undoubtedly good for the planet, it isn’t enough to keep it clean. We create too much plastic to recycle it quickly enough.
A staggering 91% of plastic in the world isn’t recycled because the mass production of the material is so fast that we don’t have enough time to handle it.
That’s why we need to start leading zero-waste lives.
What’s the Zero-Waste Movement?
Even blaming large corporations for the current state of the planet is easy, we have to take a look in the mirror and realize that we’re partially to blame for it. You see, around 45% of waste dumped in landfills consists of food, packaging, and containers.
Although recycling is a noble cause, most households are not particularly good at it. Research suggests that around 25% of recycled items end up in the bin where they don’t belong. Instead of recycling, you should try producing as little waste as possible.
The zero-waste movement requires people to use little to no plastic and wrappers to create little to no garbage. You need to follow the “five R’s of zero-waste” if you want to do your part and keep the planet clean.
The five R’s are:
- Refuse to purchase things in needless packaging
- Reduce the purchase of things you don’t really need
- Reuse old clothing, buy used goods, and use green products
- Rot or compost organic material and grow plants at your home
- Recycle as much as possible, no matter how much energy it takes
Can the Zero-Waste Movement Survive the Crisis?
Zero-waste lifestyle enthusiasts that have been paying attention to the news probably noticed that numerous media outlets have been questioning whether the movement can survive this or not. Needless to say, many were less than optimistic about the movement’s chances.
With so much news about communities and services shutting down zero-waste programs, one has to wonder: can the zero-waste movement survive the outbreak?
Health and safety should be your top priority but you can still make an effort to make your life waste-free — even during the coronavirus.
How to Maintain a Zero-Waste Lifestyle in Quarantine
Here are a few ways you can do to keep your life free of waste in the following months.
Start Using Reusable Face Masks
The CDC recommends wearing a medical mask to cover your nose and mouth during the outbreak. But that doesn’t mean you strictly need to use disposable masks. Get a reusable, cloth face mask to save needless waste. Just make sure to properly sanitize the mask every time you remove it.
Try Biodegradable Nitrile Gloves
Of course, you need to get your hands on (and in) some gloves. The problem is that most disposable gloves aren’t biodegradable. That’s why you should try and get some biodegradable nitrile gloves. As this infographic shows us, nitrile gloves can 20% biodegrade within 6 months and completely within 5 years.
Ditch Take Out and Start Cooking
All of us like to have some snacks now and then or order some Chinese. But during the current period, at least, you should forgo take-outs and start cooking your own meals. Not only will this help you create less package and food waste but it will also allow you to finally clean up your diet.
Use Up What You Have Stashed
We’ve all seen that panic-shopping can lead to unnecessary food shortages. Avoid shopping for the first week, use up what you have to stay both responsible and waste-free. As the World Health Organization advises, see what you have stashed, plan out your meals, and only then, go shopping.
Let Your Diet Become More Plant-Based
When you finally go out shopping, be careful about your food choices. Switching to a more plant-based diet will help you fight off seasonal viruses, stay fit, and healthy. In China, people have already started eating more plant-based meals, due to links between meat and viral diseases.
Buy the Largest Size Packages
There are times when you won’t have a choice but to buy something packed in plastic. When this happens, bulk shopping is a great way to reduce package waste. Why buy two or three small bags of flour when you can buy a large bag? Buy large packages to reduce the overall amount of packaging.
Don’t Forget About Package Free Shopping
Package-free shopping can also stay a part of your lifestyle during the COVID-19 outbreak. Most stores offer milk and vegetables in returnable bottles and jars. Some stores even allow their employees to scoop products rice, nuts, and cereal and put them in reusable bags for you.
Use Eco-friendly Products to Clean Your Home
The coronavirus has made some people revert to more traditional hygiene and cleaning products. Although using eco-friendly surface cleaners, soaps, and wipes is not as popular as it was before the outbreak, there’s no reason not to use them. They are just as effective as traditional cleaning products.
Make Your Own Zero-Waste Wet Wipes
Speaking of sanitation, many people are buying single-use wet wipes like crazy. While wet-wipes can be extremely useful around the house, you can create your reusable version. All you need are three ingredients – soap, olive oil, and tea tree oil – and you create zero-waste wipes in no time.
Stay Connected and In-Touch
As you probably know, crisis communication is extremely important during this period. Make sure to keep up with the groups and people within the movement. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips or share some of your own with other members. Support is everything we have during hard times.
Keep Your Life Waste-Free at All Times
Admittedly, avoiding plastic altogether can be almost impossible at times. You just need to make an effort to avoid plastic as much as possible, take care of yourself to the best of your abilities, and wait for things to get better. Maybe it’s time to start an eco-friendly career or even to launch your own product or service that will help a zero-waste movement, especially at this challenging time for us.
Once everything is back to normal, you can show the members of your community that leading a waste-free lifestyle is possible, even during the hardest times.