The 5 R’s of zero waste

Written by Romy Caverlé

Ever tried to live zero waste? For you, this might feel like a mission impossible. Combining a fulltime study and having a job is no longer an excuse: this guide will give you some tips and tricks to change your life in an accessible and affordable way. So, let’s start!

  • Refuse

Start saying no to single-use plastic. At first, it might feel weird to say: “No thanks, I brought my own packages.” But you’ll be surprised by the supportive reactions and you’ll get used to it. Start to always carry a coffee cup, linen bag and/or reusable water bottle with you and you’re prepared for unexpected situations. That makes it easier to refuse single-use plastic and it’s good for your wallet too. So: ditch plastic bags, straws and cutlery and refill your own jars. 

  • Reduce

Don’t buy more than you really need. It might be difficult not to buy three products if the third one is free, but this is how you can make a difference: you don’t have to throw away your leftovers if you don’t buy too much. Simple, right? Also, reduce your plastic use by shopping once in a while at bulk stores, where you’re supposed to bring your own bags and jars. Go to these stores for rice, nuts, grains, pasta and more. Bring a big bag and shop once every two months at a bulk store and stock it up on a large scale. In that way, you will always have a good base if you want to save money with leftover dinners.

  • Re-use

The reuse of packages is more important than the material. So, do you, for example, hesitate between compostable sandwich bags or a plastic sandwich box? Choose the box. This will make your choices easier if you’ll keep this in mind.

  • Recycle

You might already know it’s better, but now it’s time to act like it. Buy products you can recycle or ones that have been made from recycled material. It doesn’t take too much effort but does have a big impact on the environment, which basically means it’s also better for you.

  • Rot

If you now live a plastic-free life after these tips – which you’re going to try, right? – it only leaves you with organic products. Then, it’s time for composting: in a compost bag in the pantry or on your balcony, you name it. You can use this for all your plants or make that one family member with that cute garden very happy. 

Don’t forget: it’s not possible to go ‘all in’ zero waste overnight. It takes some time to get used to a zero waste lifestyle, so try to find out what works for you. Do you want to buy new clothes? Take a look at a vintage store. A present for your birthday? Ask for an experience. Those small changes also make a difference.

So, keep these 5 R’s in mind and let’s give it a try!