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Zero Waste

More and more people become aware of the movement and concepts of zero waste, plastic free, and other environmental conscious initiatives. Which is amazing because that means we are more willing to take action and change for the earth and for the future generations. One big change people often take is changing their lifestyle, such as zero waste lifestyle. Zero waste lifestyle would change the individual’s perception of waste management, shopping, and overall sustainable point of view of the current society. Zero waste lifestyle is a whole new world, where one would realize the change that is necessary to help protect mother nature.
You must be wondering, wow, what is so different about this zero waste lifestyle? Is it hard? Is it really necessary if I want to make a difference for the earth? Well, keep on reading to find out the answers and learn more about this new zero waste lifestyle!

Zero Waste Lifestyle

Zero waste lifestyle sounds just like the name, you conduct a new way of living where you produce zero waste. Sounds simple right? Yes and no, the idea is simple and starting to be zero waste is simple too, however, to reach the true zero waste lifestyle might be harder than one thinks. It is almost impossible to achieve 100% zero waste, but don’t be discouraged, you can achieve 95% zero waste if you really try.
Now you must be thinking if it is so hard, do people try to have a zero waste lifestyle? Zero waste lifestyles allow a person realize that up to now, many products are created without the future in mind, that the product is not sustainable and it is causing problems for the environment. Such as plastic pollution in the ocean, plastic bags, and nets harming sea creatures, microplastic ending up in our food chain, and just polluted ocean water where species are dying. There are many more issues that relate back to the waste we create every single day, and at the end of the day, everything contributes to climate change. Which is something we can’t stop. Scientists have been warning us for too long, and the alarms have been going off crazy. We need to take action and going zero waste is one big action that slows down and decreases the causes of climate change.

Zero Waste Lifestyle: 5Rs

Zero Waste Lifestyle: Replace single use products with glass jars
Luckily, zero waste lifestyle is not hard to begin, so anyone can start making a difference right now. Zero waste lifestyle does not have a set rule, you can have a zero waste lifestyle that works for you. You don’t need to go out and buy a ton of new things. There are a few guidelines to have the most effective zero waste lifestyle, the 5Rs. Keep on reading to find out a little more about the 5Rs and how to guide your own zero waste lifestyle.

The Hardest: Refuse!

The first R stands for Refuse! Refuse means to stop buying certain items or using certain products that are immediately going to be trash, like plastic straws, plastic utensils, single use products. It is important that you know that you can take it step by step. Start with refusing using any plastic straws and utensils, then no more buying bottled water. Work your way up to refusing more and more single use or products you know you will just end up throwing away.

If you want to take this to another level, and if possible, refuse the temptation to impulse shopping at fast retail to accumulate less trash in the future. This can be considered one of the hardest, especially with the way we are now programmed, there are new products, release and so many ways to shop nowadays, it is really hard to stop buying. But if you can, you are making a huge difference.

Number 2: Reduce!

Now it is time to reduce! Reduce the simpler lifestyle, only buying products you need. As mentioned, refusing to impulse shop is another way of reducing. Reducing the chance of using single used products by buying more sustainable replacements that you can use multiple times. Replacing is another way of reducing the trash, replacing buying vegetables and fruits that are packaged in plastic with no packaging at all. Also, you can start reducing the items you already have, you might have some clutter recycle them or donate them if possible. Keep things and shopping things that spark joy and are necessary.

Zero Waste Lifestyle’s Principle: Reuse/Repair

Now that we refuse to buy or use some single use products and have reduced and replaced our items. It is time to see what we have left. There might be products that we keep that are broken, well, if it is fixable then fix it. Or shirts that you no longer wear, donate, resell, or repurpose to a new item. Time to put on your DIY cap and start repurposing, reusing, and repairing items that you already own, so you don’t need to buy new.


Rot means to decompose the food waste we create. Food waste is actually a serious issue and properly decomposing our food waste, whether it is building a compost at home or discarding them at the local compost center are all great options. Not only are you reducing your waste but doing something good for the environment. However, if you are already following the reduction, only buying what you include the amount of food, the amount of compost you have might have already significantly been reduced.

Recycle: Last Zero Waste Lifestyle Principle

You must be wondering why recycling is all the way down here. While recycling is extremely important, however, oftentimes we don’t recycle properly, thus making it less effective (not properly washing the plastic before recycling can cause the item to end up in landfill). In addition, recycling requires a lot of energy and money. Not all items can be recycled and not all places have proper recycling systems, thus, making it less reliable. By practicing refuse, reduce, and reuse, the number of items that news to be recycled will also decrease.

Let’s Do it!

Shopping at zero waste and packaging stores
Now that we know about the 5Rs, the principles of zero waste lifestyle, it is time to get started! You don’t need to worry about getting a 100% zero waste lifestyle in the beginning. Once you start your zero waste lifestyle, you will get closer to 100% automatically. You will since realize a lot of things that you are using can be reduced or replaced, you will be able to refuse more items and get better. Zero waste lifestyle is a gradual process. If you are looking for tips, here is an article with 10 easy zero waste hacks that will help you get started!

Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!