July 11, 2020

The 5 r’s of zero waste


Lots of people have been tying to go zero waste recently and be able to contribute almost no waste into our oceans and landfills. I think that is so cool and I have been trying to be as low waste as possible to eventually go fully zero waste. Although I am still on my journey there, I thought I should share some easy rules and guidelines you can use to become low/zero waste too! Without further a’do, here are the 5 R’s of zero waste!


1. Refuse

Since this is the first step, this will save you the most trash. There are so many things you can refuse! The main focus when it comes to what you should refuse will be single use items. Coffee cups, take away food containers, plastic bags, straws, plastic bottles, anything. That is the case when it comes to trash in the form of single use items, but also for products, clothes, basically anything. Learn to say no. A big help for me is the farmers market, since most of our households waste comes from food packaging. Reuse anything you already have (that can be an old plastic bag lying around, a cotton bag or a backpack, it does not really matter). Also, making things yourself can reduce a lot of waste, so maybe try a DIY! Those are two major steps, to be able to accomplish this step. 

2. Reduce

Almost everything in our economy is based on buying and selling things. We are constantly made to believe we need all those things. New clothes, 1001 kitchen supplies for specific tasks, even more beauty products, you name it. We really don’t need as much as we think, that’s why minimalism is such a popular thing these days. Simplifying your life makes everything so much easier! And cheaper too. So, if you don’t refuse something, think again. Do you really need this thing? It’s impulse, and practicing to think again really takes time and practice. And if you then think you really need something, like for instance, shampoo, try to use less. When you do have to get rid of stuff, do it in a responsible way. Maybe give it away or sell it!

3. Reuse

Reusing really aligns with refusing. Let’s say you refused the new plastic or paper bags at the farmers market, but what will you use then? Anything you have! An old backpack, a cotton bag, a paper bag you still had, a plastic bag you’ve used 1000 times? It does not matter here, but it’s important that it’s something you already own. If you then decide you really need a reusable cup or a lunch box because you don’t have one, buy it secondhand. That is basically anybody else’s waste you are saving. This category also has a lot to do with repairing too. Fixing something means you can use it longer, which is sustainable. It will prevent things from going to landfill or to recycling. 

4. Recycle

Now, many people see recycling as the solution to the whole waste problem we have. I hate to break it to you, but it’s not. Recycling is a great thing, but it’s not everything. Paper, aluminum, steel and glass are 100% recyclable, but plastic is not. Plastic downcycles and so in the end it will go to landfill. That’s the reason people try to eliminate plastic all together. Reuse is at 3, before recycling because it’s better to reuse a cotton bag for all your groceries than to use a paper bag every time and recycle it each time. 

5. Rot

If you are trying to go zero or low waste, use the five R’s as your guidelines!

Anything you can’t recycle, you can rot/compost. That means you’ll have zero waste at the end! The worms eat the food scraps and turn it into a fertilizer for a garden. Hello zero waste!


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