General suggestions for a Zero Waste Life: how to start eliminating waste and single-use trash and live more sustainably

In this first chapter of our open guide to how to live Zero Waste we’ll explore some general suggestions from which we can start to eliminate waste and single-use trash from our lives, lowering pollution and the excessive exploitation of resources.

Sustainable mobility

As we’ll repeat many times, emissions are waste too and, especially in the case of planes, they are among the main polluters on the planet. According to an ever-growing number of scientific studies, together with the adoption of a vegan diet, quitting air travel would be one of the best ways to cut CO2 emissions and begin to remedy the environmental disasters we’ve caused up until now.

If we find ourselves in the condition of flying, then we can choose to offset our carbon footprint with a non-profit dedicated exactly to this: Atmosfair. Of course, planes are not the only polluting means of transportation. So, whether it’s a large trip or a simple daily commute, being mindful of the means of transportation we use is crucial: let’s prefer bicycles and public transportation, let’s carpool and give lifts. Generally speaking, let’s try to opt for the least impactful mean of transportation for the environment.

Let’s choose a sustainable bank

As NGO Reclaim Finance shows us, banks are among the main supporters of wars, environmental destruction, pollution and climate change. Indeed, with the money of their depositories, banks finance disruptive and unsustainable companies, projects, governments and magnates.

Choosing a bank that doesn’t support this kind of reality but that invests in sustainability, peace and collaboration is a fundamental step.

Let’s avoid online shopping to eliminate waste and cut CO2 emissions

Among our general suggestions to live Zero Waste, to stop buying online products, especially on big e-commerce sites like Amazon and especially if we’re talking about clothes, is one of the most Zero Waste and socially useful actions that can be done. Indeed, it allows us to eliminate all at once the packaging used for shipping, the pollution involved in transportation, and helps combat mass production and workforce exploitation. If we really can’t avoid shopping something online, then let’s create collective purchasing groups with other people, so to get everything in one single delivery.

Let’s meditate to learn how to live Zero Waste

Everything we do comes from a choice, even when we think it’s not the case, we’re choosing. So it depends on us what kind of choice we want to make and the impact we want to have on our life and the planet.  Only through consciousness we can truly be free to choose the life we want and be aware of the choices we make. How do we become aware of our choices? Thanks to contemplative practices. Meditation can truly physically model our brain in a way that allows us to make more conscious choices and create for us the path we wish for. Indeed, thanks to neuroplasticity, when we meditate we train our brain to work differently, in a healthier and more present way. That’s why meditation and contemplative practices are Zero Waste practices. They are a powerful tool accessible to all to spark and activate that interior and lifestyle change that we talked about in the intro to this guide. That’s also why we decided to dedicate many additional contents about contemplative practices in our blog and during our ecoactivities, because we believe that meditation in all its shapes and forms is a great starting point to live Zero Waste, because it helps us to become more aware and more mindful about the waste and trash we make.

Let’s not throw away the long-lasting plastic objects we already have

We agree that plastic is an extremely toxic and polluting material and that we should stop producing it at once, however if we already own non-single-use plastic objects that are still good to use, let’s not throw them away with objects made of other materials, because we would turn into garbage something that is still useful. Let’s try to value as much as possible what we already have, and let’s apply this awareness to our future purchases. Indeed, let’s keep in mind that often the problem is not the material with which a product is made, but its single-use nature and, therefore, its mass production. Even a biodegradable or compostable product that is made for single-use has an incredibly negative environmental impact – as in the case of bioplastics that replace normal plastic packages. Of course, if we’re buying something new that we don’t already have and that we need, then let’s avoid plastic, even if durable.

Cigarette pollution

Cigarette filters are among the most common, polluting and dangerous pieces of garbage that exist nowadays. This is because of many reasons: when they get thrown on the ground, they inevitably end up in the sewers and, consequently, in the sea. But also when they get disposed of properly, they are still a perfect example of single-use waste. Electronic cigarettes are not a real solution given the large number of plastic vials used for the liquid. If we zoom out even more, they represent another future electronic waste. For better or for worse, the only truly valid solution is to quit smoking. We know that it can result in a delicate argument for many, and we don’t want to fall in the classic lecture: “it will be good for the environment, and yourself!”, but among the various solutions, quitting smoking surely is one of the most radical Zero Waste actions we can embrace.

Repairing instead of rebuying to eliminate waste

Deciding to repair a broken or malfunctioning object instead of buying it again is, nowadays, an almost revolutionary act. It’s true, sometimes, especially when dealing with electronic devices, since it can be more expensive to repair than rebuy. But if we keep in mind the long-term cost, a decision to repair will turn out to be the most economic one. As a matter of fact, this kind of reasoning can be done in advance: choosing to buy an object only if it is easily repairable is a perfect example of a Zero Waste choice. This is also because, in most cases, a non-repairable product is often synonymous with low quality, or planned obsolescence — both synonyms for extremely high environmental impact, poor production, and consumerist approach.

Let’s opt for second hand

If we find ourselves in the position of making a purchase, then opting for second-hand products is the Zero Waste solution we’re looking for. From shops to flee markets, swap parties, but also passing the word between friends and family, let’s consider this opportunity first, keeping also in mind that besides being the most sustainable, it’s often the cheapest one.

Let’s make ourselves the products we use and the food we eat

Self-production is a revolutionary act. We can make ourselves almost every product we use and all the food we eat, however starting from something we use a on a daily basis, like for example our toothpaste or our deodorant is a great starting point. That’s why we invite you to also check out some of our simple and easy recipes from our Zero Waste Recipe Book. For what concerns food, self-production is a choice that makes a huge difference, both for our health and that of the planet. Thanks to self-production, we’ll be able to cut on mountains of waste, single-use trash, packaging, CO2 emissions for the transportation of goods, pesticides, herbicides, and labor exploitation.

We take this opportunity to mention our trusted self-producer, Elisa Nicoli, and our trusted farmer, Fabio Costantini aka Fescion Farmer.

Let’s make sure that what we are buying is Fair-trade

Fair-trade is a certification that assures us that what we’re buying is produced without exploiting the environment and workforce.

Some food that, for example, should have this certification are exotic fruits (bananas, avocados, mangoes, etc.), chocolate, coffee, the products of our cosmetic products and any other ingredient/component that we may think of really. As for the rest, let’s avoid buying products that don’t have this certification and were not made sustainably.

Let’s not take part in activities that exploit and abuse animals

As ethologist and Eticoscienza’s president Chiara Grasso teaches us, sometimes we may think that we’re taking care of an animal, but we’re actually participating into its exploitation. So besides boycotting circuses, aquariums, sea parks and any other place where animals are exhibited or used as entertainment for human amusement, let’s also be wary of rescue centers, sanctuaries and parks where we can interact with wild animals (i.e. elephants, lions, monkeys, dolphins, sharks, turtles, etc), touching, feeding, bathing them and so on. As for what concerns zoos, let’s choose them VERY carefully.

Wild animals are made to be admired from a distance, without any direct interaction with human beings, if not with professional and conscious scientists and vets who are truly involved in the safeguard and rescue of endangered individuals.

Do you have another Zero Waste suggestion or solution that is not among this ones? Write us! We’ll be happy to add it to the list and inspire even more people.

Keep exploring our open guide to how to live Zero Waste, visit the other chapters:

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