The impending threat of waste to the future of humankind is massive. Every year, the world generates more than 1.3 billion tons of garbage with numbers that are expected to keep soaring. 1,4 billion pounds of them ends up in our beautiful ocean, and the ones being thrown in landfills is sending a dire news for humanity. Pollution seeps into the ground water and pollute the nearest rivers. Many of us seem to be oblivious to this facts, even the most educated ones. But why? The answer is quite simple. We don’t really see it.
Unfortunately, just because it is hardly noticeable does not mean that it’s no longer a menace to our health. The Earth will continue to exist for billions of years, but it is highly unlikely that humankind will survive the catastrophic consequences of these actions. So it is not about saving the planet, but creating hospitable home for the next generation to live.
Few people have started their zero-waste journey that they are able to fit the trash produced in a year into a tiny little jar. But many consider their efforts to be futile. This argument is based on the fact that 70% of the contributors to our greenhouse emissions can be traced back to only 100 companies. So until the government take a strong action to legislate against activities that are detrimental to the environment, no changes will be seen anytime soon.
As discouraging as this is, I strongly believe that individuals, when work collectively, will be able to shift these big corporates’ policies. When you embrace minimalism, you will find an inexorable demands to reduce your stuffs, which will significantly lower your waste and carbon footprint. Since you don’t buy things recklessly, you will generate less trash; Be it your old clothes, shoes, paper book, electronic devices, or something as trivial as a plastic bag.
It is extremely hard to be zero-waste if you live in a country that doesn’t offer too many alternatives. But this does not mean that you should give up everything entirely. Even though your impact can hardly be measured in a global scale, we are still talking about more than 7 billion people on Earth. It seems unfair to blame individuals for the ongoing climate change, however, it is us who demand these companies to burn fossil fuels and use up our resources so we can have new clothes, accessories, cars, or even bigger house.
We love our instant and canned food, plastic-bottled juice, and milk. We demand the shelves in grocery stores to look full, which leads to 1/3 of foods being wasted. So unless you limit your buying, plastic packaging will continue to be manufactured in a great scale.
Boycott companies that are not eco-friendly! When enough people demand change, they will adjust to it in order to keep profiting.
You needn’t try to go big at once as small changes tend to be more sustainable. And contrary to the popular belief, the slightest change in your routine actually MATTERS.
Here are things I have experimented with to reduce my personal waste:
Walk when traveling in a short distance.
Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but it also provides a good exercise. Doing it for 10 minutes each day will boost your brainpower immediately. Regular exercise also strengthens and increases the volume of your hippocampus and perefrontal cortex, the two parts of your brain susceptible for neurodegenerative diseases. I try to shift my mindset, and now instead of jogging in circle, I have jogged to places such as malls or farmer markets to buy fruits and veggies. Consequently, my gas and parking expenses are reduced and paying for gym memberships is a thing of a past.
Use reusable bag
First of all, I hate farmer markets. Some of them can be dirty and overcrowded. However, I make my peace as this is probably the only reasonable place to get foods without plastic packaging. I bring different containers and produce bags with me to store eggs, fruits, vegetables, flour, sugar, or even tofu. I find bringing a reusable bags to a grocery store is not helping much as most of the products sold there already come in plastic. Besides, shopping in farmer markets can be cheaper. Not to mention that you have supported small businesses to thrive. Unlike big corporates’ owners who spend their profits on another property and overseas vacations, these people will most likely spend their money on putting their kids to school or paying for their basic needs.
Also, use these containers for take-away foods. Carry a small container for when you find a street food you want to buy.
Say no to plastic straws. Bring your own reusable straw or just simply not use any!
Most of plastic straws wind up in our ocean and endanger countless marine lives. They might be used for around five minutes but it take up to 200 years to decompose. In the United States alone, 500 million plastic straws are used every day. To put it into perspective, these many straws will be able to fill 125 school bus. So, seriously, stop sucking!
Make your own food.
Avoiding plastic packages have forced me to cook my own food, make my own juice and/or drinks. It takes a lot more work rather than to order, but it enables me to cut my spending on eating out. Moreover, you will live a healthier life by avoiding carcinogenic additives such as food coloring and preservatives commonly found in instant foods. Don’t focus on things you can no longer have, but focus on the infinite possibilities instead! There are a lot more fresh foods you can make or buy than those in plastic packaging.
Use the alternatives.
-Bamboo toothbrush instead of plastic one.
-Olive oil for make up remover.
-Reusable cotton pad.
-Handkerchief instead of facial tissue. Dip it in water, and voila, you have a wet wipe!
-Natural home-made facial mask made of egg, fruits, milk, honey, turmeric (you name it!) to replace sheet masks.
-Natural oils instead of face moisturizer and hand lotion.
-Using products with more eco-friendly packages.
Using fewer ingredients for different purposes will also help you declutter since you won’t end up with dozens of products sitting in your bathroom or anywhere else in your house 😉
Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.
– William Arthur Ward