The 5’Rs of Zero Waste Living

My favourite Zero Waste champion, Bea Johnson has an excellent picture of an inverted pyramid in her book Zero Waste Home

These principles outline Zero waste living:

REFUSE – what we do not need

This is the best way to reduce waste – by Saying No to Single Use Plastics such as Plastic Bags, Straws, Cups and Bottled water.  These are the top 4 polluters in our environment today.  They are generally discarded and very often end up in landfill and not being recycled.  Plastic clogs our oceans, rivers and landfill. Refuse what you don’t need such as packaging, receipts, freebies, junk mail and newspapers (read online or at the library).

REDUCE – what we need and cannot refuse

By reducing what we don’t need leads to a simpler lifestyle so we can concentrate on quality versus quantity.  Quality time with family and friends as opposed to mindless shopping, social media and TV.

REUSE – what we consume and can’t refuse

This is one of my favourites!  To find a purpose for an item you think no longer has a use. Our lifestyle is more about using, getting rid of or throwing away and buying new. Companies prefer you to buy new rather than fix what’s broken.  Find ideas on how to fix items on the Internet, You Tube or look on Pinterest.  Companies like weFix repair phones or take your clothes in to be mended at your local tailor or seamstress.

RECYCLE – what we can’t refuse, reduce or reuse

Is recycling a better choice than throwing something away?  Most definitely.  However, recycling still takes up a huge amount of energy and resources.  It still needs to be collected, transported, cleaned, sorted and made into new products.  It does of course create jobs which is fantastic given the huge unemployment rate.  BUT, a huge amount of “stuff” still ends up in landfill.  A great quote I saw the other day is “Recycling is a great place to start, but a terrible place to stop”!

ROT – compost the rest

Vegetable peelings, lawn clippings, torn up newspaper, hair or anything that is biodegradable. Choose compostable wooden materials or corn starch compostable items (utensils, cellophane type bags) over plastic.  Bamboo toothbrushes are far better and compostable as opposed to plastic toothbrushes. I have this small ‘Compost’ container in my kitchen.  When it’s full it is emptied into the compost bin outside. Living in an apartment and don’t have the space? Check out local community gardens or initiatives where you can drop off organic waste.