Bea Johnsons 5 R's of Zero Waste
If you are just about to start to reduce waste and live a more zero waste lifestyle it can get overwhelming in the beginning.
How to do it, where to start, how to take control over your consumption....
The "5 R´s of Zero Waste" from Bea Johnson (Zero Waste Home) makes it a little easier in the beginning.
It is like a mantra to get started. If you follow the 5 R's followed in this order you will see how quick your amount of trash will get reduced.
The goal of Zero Waste is: sending less to landfill!
So it is about refusing, reducing, reusing, recycling and rotting what you can ;)
It all starts with refusing certain things. This will eliminate your trash quickly.
Refuse plastic wrapped fresh produce, learn to say no to freebies, don't take the disposable coffee cup but sit down and drink from a ceramic mug.
Refuse to buy cheap and unsustainable produced products. These will actually cost you more in the long run because they oftentimes break early and you need to buy them again and again.
Reduce your consumption. Do you need the 10th pair of shoes? Do you really wear all your clothes in your closet or could you sell or donate half of it? Do you really need the iced coffee to go in a disposable cup?
Reduce your consumption of disposables. If you only refuse the single use plastic items, you will reduce your amount of trash instantly.
Think about if you need the expensive face lotions for the morning and one extra for the night or if you can use only natural oils for your skin.
We are often times so controlled by the marketing of big brands that we sometimes don´t even realize what we are buying. It seems like everybody is buying all these things, so we should too. Ask yourself: do you really want this? Do you really need this? Are there alternatives, or do you already have something similar at home?
Free yourself from the trap of over consumerism.
3) Reuse (& Repair)
I would actually split these into two, or three sections but Bea Johnson packed them into one section:
Recycle if you cant refuse the packaging.
Try to buy things in easily recyclable packaging. Check with your municipal recycling facility what is recyclable and how you should treat the trash so theres a bigger chance it get's actually recycled (wash, collect, etc..). Plastic has numbers: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and your local recycling facility can tell you what they allow in the blue bin/recycling bin.
Since glass, paper and cans (aluminium and steel) have a good recycling quote most places (I traveled to a few places where this is not the case for glass and paper yet...), the plastic recycling statistic is not very good.
Even in countries with good recycling management there's no 100% but mostly around 40% of actually recycled/downcycled plastics. What goes into the recycling facility won't necessarily get recycled (mixed plastic packaging, contamination, too small, facilities only take certain kinds of plastic...).
Recycling is a good way too start, but a bad place to stop!
Rot the rest. Compost your food scraps.
Nothing breaks down on landfill because of the lack of oxygen, light, temperature.. Thats why food scraps on landfill won't compost, they shouldn't go there.
In a lot of cities you might have a green bin already. These will either go to a compost facility or to an energy facility. That's different from country to country/town to town.
But I know some cities don't have a compost bin yet. When visiting Los Angeles I realized they don't offer compost bins for condos, only for private houses in Torrance where we lived. So I sneaked to the neighbors house to drop off our little bit of compost ;)
In Playa Del Carmen Mexico there was no compost either, so I buried it in the garden ;)
In Manhattan, New York City there was no compost bin either but there was a compost drop off possibility once a week. And on the farmers market there has been compost collection/drop off too.
If you have the space for a compost in your garden build one. Or if you don't have a garden you could think about a worm bin for the kitchen. Maybe theres a communal garden/garden center with a compost that might allow you to bring certain scraps.
It is a journey. So don't get overwhelmed or frustrated in the beginning. Every step, (every piece of trash you can refuse) is a step into the right direction.
Keep smiling and make happy choices.
-> zero waste essentials
-> plastic free shopping hacks for supermarkets
-> 4 steps to a successful bulk shopping
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Hi my name is Jule
I am a nature and ocean lover. A passionate runner and minimalistic traveller. On this blog I share my experiences, thoughts and ideas about the "sustainable lifestyle" and how you can stick to this while traveling.
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