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20 Easy Zero Waste Swaps for Everyday Life

Greta Thunberg, in her speech at the UN took an outspoken and undiluted stand on climate change. The 16 year old girl from Sweden, rose to fame with her blunt speech at the UN Climate Action Summit earlier this year, urging both the public and political leaders and assemblies to take immediate action to address the climate crisis at hand. Climate change is the subject of the hour, and people all around the world are talking about it.

While the conversation ensues on a global scale, the subject on environmental conservation can get a bit daunting. A heavy culture of non-stop consumption has led to detrimental effects on the environment, and that hasn’t made for a sustainable way forward. Making zero waste lifestyle choices doesn’t just elevate your life, but goes a long way in conserving natural resources and minimize any negative impact on the environment.

Zero waste living is an environmental movement to switch to recyclable, reusable and sustainable living. We’re constantly purchasing use and throws, without fully realizing the impact it has on the environment. It’s never too late to understand, and never too late to make better lifestyle choices. If you wish to switch to a zero waste lifestyle, here are 20 easy zero waste swaps to begin with -

Swap #1 - Throw away food scraps? Compost them.

Why throw away those food scraps when you can compost them instead, and re-use it later? Composting is a great way to get rid of your waste, while still making great use of it.

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Swap #2 - Menstrual pads/ tampons? Reusable menstrual cups instead.

Something you probably didn’t know is that all menstrual pads/ tampons have non-biodegradable content in it, and may take 500-800 years to decompose. Which means that the pads you dump in the bin, will be long around on the planet long after you’ve gone. It’s probably time to adopt on an environment friendlier option - menstrual cups.

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Swap #3 - Throw-away bottled-water? Use reusable bottles instead.

If you were to buy a packaged bottle of drinking water every time you’re thirsty, you’re not only burning a hole in your pocket, you’re contribution to environmental pollution.Carrying a reusable water bottle saves you the unnecessary expense, and you’ll have made a great beginning on the road to zero waste, and a frugal lifestyle. 

Swap #4 - Disposable plastic grocery bags? Use reusable bags instead.

Think twice before stepping out of the house for grocery shopping the next time. If you carried your own grocery bag with you, you won’t have to use the plastic bags the stores offer you. That’s a great yet simple way for you to get on a zero waste lifestyle. 

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 Swap #5 - Make-up remover? Use coconut oil instead.

Coconut oil is easy to apply, pocket-friendly and has amazing benefits on the skin. So next time you’re investing in make-up, buy greener and cleaner options instead.

Swap #6 - Plastic tupperware? Use glass containers instead.

Find that you often have leftovers from the night’s cooking? Seal them tight in glass containers instead of plastic tupperwares. These boxes are harmful to the environment, and remain long in the soil for years after we’ve passed on.

Swap #7 - Paper towels? Use washable cloth rags instead.

The toilet paper industry is one of the highest contributors to environmental degradation. Use tissue papers sparingly, and whenever possible, adopt the use of washable cloth rags or hand-towels instead.

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 Swap #8 - Butter paper cake liners? Use silicone liners instead.

For years, mums and bakers have used parchment papers and butter papers to line cake tins. Make an easy swap and avoid the use of paper by switching to silicone cake trays and liners instead.

Swap #9 - Throw-away tea remnants? Water your plants instead.

Tea leaf remnants are a great source of nutrients for plants and foliage. The next time you’re throwing it away, take the extra step out and pour it on some soil. Doing this quick remedy every day can greatly benefit the soil in your garden.

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 Swap #10 - Disposable plastic table-wear? Use bamboo/ stainless steel instead.

It’s time to switch from using plastic cutlery at those family get-togethers and parties, and invest in bamboo or stainless steel table-wear instead. You can still have enjoyable evenings by partying green, and partying clean.

Swap #11 - Plastic straws? Use stainless steel instead.

Stainless steel straws are a must-have as a daily essential. Not too heavy, these straws can be carried in any small bag. Whenever you’re thirsty, you can use you trusted stainless steel straw rather than reach for the easily available plastic ones.

Swap #12 - Plastic throw-away razors? Use steel safety razors instead.

The good old days of grandfather’s robust steel safety razors have gone, and we’re in the days of easily available and easily disposable plastic razors. Go old school, and go green in picking up a steel razor instead of plastic ones. Longer durability and sharpness, and definitely more environmentally friendly.

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Swap #13 - Paper bills? Switch to online banking instead.

Why print a bill when you get instant updates on your phone? The next time your cashier’s handing you a paper bill, go for the trusted digital version instead and avoid the unnecessary printing of paper.

Swap #14 - Pay for news? Go digital instead.

In the years of digital, why get printed news when you can binge on the latest news and trends on your trusted phone? Save trees and say no to paper. Go digital instead.

Swap #15 - Plastic cups? Switch to bamboo/ mugs instead.

If you’re someone who has guests or friends home too often, chances are you let out those disposables to avoid piling on of dishes later. We don’t mean to make your life any harder, but while doing so, it’d be best to pay a few more bucks and buy biodegradable bamboo cups instead.

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 Swap #16 - Fast fashion? Switch to ethical fashion instead.

Even if that means you have to shell out a few more dollars for a better-quality purchase, do it. While fast-fashion may be easy to buy and affordable, a lot of these clothes find themselves in landfills taking years to recycle. Synthetic clothing sometimes takes hundreds of years to decompose. Second to oil, the textile industry is said to be a leading polluter, and accounts for nearly 20% of global waste water. So anytime you’re thinking of throwing away that garment, or buying a new one, it’ll help to re-think whether you truly need it; and if you do, try to re-use it, rather than throw it away. Opt for hand-me-downs over throwaways anyday.

Swap #17 - Bookworm? Book-swap or read e-books instead.

Many times, books are bought only to be read once, or never at all, and so collect dust on shelves. While one should never think twice before having to purchase a book, a smarter way to do read would be exchanging purchased books among friend-circles, or switching to a lifestyle of buying e-books instead. 

Swap #18 - Neat-freak? Wash your clothes less.

The fashion industry is said to be one of the biggest contributors to climate change. One of the simplest ways to adopt a fair bit of wokeness into your daily fashion is reducing the number of times you put your clothes in the washer or dryer. Research by the Energy Saving Trust reveals that washing clothes has a 60–80% impact of a garment's total environmental impact. Avoid washing clothes so often, and invest in durable fashion that will go a long way as an easy zero swap for your daily life.

Swap #19 - Hoarding in the name of fashion? Shop utilitarian instead.

Buying only what you need should be a chorus not just for environmental reasons, but as a life principle too. All the things you buy which you don’t need will just accumulate dust and are avoidable non-biodegradables on the environment. Be smart while being fashionably conscious too. 

Swap #20 - Luxury travel? Avoid air travel, take the bus instead.

Love those short hours on flights and longer hours otherwise? If you want to live a zero waste life, a great place to begin would be cutting down on your luxury travel costs. If a bus or a train can be taken instead of that flight, take the more environmentally conscious travel decision. Right from packing, down to the booking of your tickets, if you’re going green, you would do better to go green all the way.

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 A 100% sustainability may be a hard goal to achieve, but avoiding garbage that is destined for landfills, is something that we can do something about. To have a zero waste lifestyle does not mean creating no waste at all. Reducing wastage, to reusing, upcycling and recycling - these are all important components to bring about climate change and reduce greenhouse emissions. Change won’t begin at all, if it doesn’t begin first at home.

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2019-11-29

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