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Question from Quora: How do I go zero waste?

See original discussion here.

Image of food in glass jars
Photo by Ignacio F. on Unsplash

Here is my answer:

First of all, you got to understand that the most you can do is to make the least waste, or less, but not zero. Each of us already pollutes the planet since the day we were born. All products we consume = resources wasted. Anyway, it’s always good to have ‘zero waste lifestyle’ as a goal, and we try to get close to it as much as possible.

You can start by appreciating what you already have. Consider those physical products you consume every single day. Your bed, your toilet kit, your shoes, your clothes, your electronic devices, etc. Optimize them by taking care of them – the materials, repair them if needed. Look at their true purpose, not obsessed by the appearance. For example, you already have a good pair of sneakers, but want a new more trendy pair. So you hunt for new items. New items = more demand for the production = more resources used = more waste. That’s when you make more waste when you’re not supposed to.

Go for second hand items – If you need new products because it’s necessary, always consider second-hand items. These things are already produced, resources were already used, and they still function. Buying second hands is the best way to optimize the lives of those products. And most of them are cheaper!

Buy bulk food with reusable containers – And buy anything, anywhere with your own reusable bag. This one makes big impacts. Not difficult to start but can be hard to fit it in your life, especially shopping food in bulk. Because bulk shopping is not a norm in this crazy capitalism society, so bulk food where you can use your own jars to cut down packaging trash is not in every corner of the street comparing to Trader Joe’s or Target.

When buy new items(after considering that you really need them), choose well. Do much research about the company that produces the products, the materials, the sources, how much does it care about making the least waste?, how much does it try to be more sustainable in each production process through to marketing and shipping? Choose high quality items that will last long, rather than cheaper options that will break in a few months and make you buy more often and waste even more money and resources.

These are just some examples. There are hundreds of ways to live a zero waste lifestyle. The key thing is to start one step at a time, one thing at a time, so that you can sustain your new habits and have a courage to do better.

I hope this helps.

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