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Zero Waste Living: Everything You Need to Know

How to reduce your impact on the environment

From clothes and food to stuff, how many times per week do you throw out unloved, unwanted or unused waste? The simple answer lies in your bin.

As scientists continue to tell us our planet is getting hotter at an alarming rate, 2016 is a time for big changes, starting at home. According to Rutland County Council, on average every person in the UK throws away their own body weight in rubbish every 7 weeks. From green and brown to blue, households across the planet are successfully adopting a colour-coded recycling scheme to try to reduce our carbon footprint.

But leaders of a zero-waste lifestyle movement are challenging the notion that we could (and should) be doing more, and proving it’s possible.

Last year, New Yorker Lauren Singer packed her annual waste into one, small glass jar. How did she do it?

Lauren Singer

“Whether it is saying no to single use plastic straws wherever you go or opting to always carry a reusable tote bag, there are lots of easy things to do that have a long term and large scale positive environmental (and economic) impact,” says Singer, Founder of Trash is for Tossers and CEO of The Simply Co.

Keeping in mind that each UK household produces over 1 tonne of rubbish annually, amounting to about 31 million tonnes each year – not including the rest of our planet’s waste – the small things really do matter. “I started small and did a few things at a time so it wasn’t overwhelming. I made toothpaste for the first time because I was out of toothpaste and didn’t want to buy another tube. I didn’t make any other new product until I finished the store bought one that I had. Doing things that way really helped to pace out the things that I was doing and make them super easy and fun,” explains Singer.

Trash Is For Tossers

Lauren’s blog is full of helpful tips and detailed advice for minimising waste like storing dry food in jars and using bamboo compostable toothbrushes. It also lists easy ways to adjust your weekly shopping list to help reduce your carbon footprint. And that means asking for your fresh fish to be put into a glass jar you brought along with you – a zero-waste lifestyle means saying no to plastic packaging for good.

She’s not the only one. Young millennial women are actively reducing their household waste on a phenomenal scale. As Europe vows to reduce our GHG (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) by 20 percent by 2020 and by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 1990, addressing our household waste is the key to it’s success.

“We eat fresh, simple, and healthful meals instead of spending a lot on takeout and disposables, and walk or bike instead of spending a lot on cabs. Making my own simple household and beauty products frees up money and time for things I really enjoy,” says Ariana Schwarz of Paris to Go.

Paris To Go

Making the switch in 2014, Schwarz (like Singer) started making small adjustments to her daily life, going back to her old lifestyle now seems impossible. “Drink tap water, pack a few reusable shopping bags in your car or purse, try a bamboo toothbrush, bring lunch instead of buying in the cafeteria, and eat meatless one day a week (even better if you eat vegan). These all require minimal adjustment, but can have a major impact on an individual’s carbon footprint,” says Schwarz.

Paris To Go

The secret formula is if you have less, you waste less. What’s there to lose?