Have you ever looked at the contents of your rubbish bin? I mean really looked and considered what you’re throwing away and why? Packets, bottles, tubs, tubes, bags, paper cups, tissues, face wipes, disposable razors, the list goes on, and on. Most of this stuff is unnecessary, yet we’re kind of hooked on the convenience of it all, because well, it’s what we’re used to. But it is possible to live a life with less waste.
We have a trash problem
The average European throws away 492 kg of waste per year, and in the US it’s creeping towards a terrifying 750 kg. All that trash is produced using raw materials from the earth, which after a relatively short lifespan is simply… tossed. And then what?
Municipalities should hopefully provide recycling as the first option, but while good in many ways this is an energy guzzling process. Most countries use landfill for non-recyclables, leaving trash to rot and emit a bunch of greenhouse gasses as it does. (A plastic bottle takes c.500 years to break down btw.) In Sweden, where I live, we incinerate and turn waste into energy to heat homes, but this practice comes with its own problems. And somehow, 8 million tons of mainly plastic rubbish finds its way into our oceans each year causing mass destruction of marine life. So, whichever way you look at it we create way too much trash.
Living the zero waste way
One of the biggest voices in the zero waste movement is Bea Johnson, who together with her family tots up a small jar’s worth of landfill trash each year. How? By following the 5 Rs, which should, according to Bea, be followed in order:
Refuse – just say no! Don’t take that plastic bag, carry a reusable mug for takeout coffee, etc.
Reduce – the theory is the less you have the less you feel you need, so live simpler and don’t buy as much.
Reuse – reuse what you do have, mend things and choose reusable items.
Recycle – anything that doesn’t fit into the three first Rs should be recycled, this includes composting.
Rot – this is the last resort, sending to landfill, or whatever your country does with rubbish.
Take a look at Bea’s Google talk.
Tips & tricks
Going fully zero waste is hard, but cutting down your waste isn’t. Over the next few months we’ll be publishing a series of tried and tested (by us) zero waste life hacks to help reduce your trash. So keep coming back and you can also check out my Instagram @doalittlesomething for more tips.
Written by: Rowan
Rowan is an English girl living in Malmö, Sweden with her two kids. She’s a copywriter who’s crazy about flea markets and living waste free. @doalittlesomething