How to lessen your impact on the environment by starting with your waste

The opportunity for transformation is in the smallest of actions. While we campaign for large scale changes from corporations and governments to get their act together, we as individuals can contribute with small but impactful changes.

Words by Louis Oliver
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he term "zero waste" can seem a little overwhelming and quite unachievable when you're making a conscious effort to minimise the negative impact you're making on the environment. While the goal of zero waste to prevent sending things to the landfill, we also need a radical shift for the right infrastructure and legislation to enable us to reach such goals.

There are, however, good things that we can do in the meantime to slow the rate things are thrown into the landfill and reduce waste entirely. Zero waste isn't a finite goal; it's an infinite lifestyle choice of making small but impactful changes that make a significant impact on our consumerist decisions.

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1. Say no to single-use.

Start by making your zero waste survival kit. Get yourself a reusable bottle, coffee cup (if that's your thing) and lunch box—this can also be a plastic container you already have, which is the foundation of zero waste, repurposing. Pack them in your bag, so you're always prepared. You might want to pack cutlery if you're on the go.

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2. Always be prepared.

My reusable cotton bag is always hanging on my kitchen door hosting a range of produce bags so I can take comfort in knowing that I won't get caught off-guard when I come across loose items when shopping. My rucksack also has my reusable coffee cup, water bottle and cutlery for when I'm out and about.

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3. Get naked.

When shopping, go for loose groceries, soap, fruit and veg. Anything that's not wrapped in plastic or has some packaging. I'm quite fortunate that I live near shops that have plenty of package-free options for which I'm grateful. If your options are limited, do what you can. Opt-in for packing made from paper, cardboard or metals—these materials can be repurposed or recycled.

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4. Use what you have.

As consumers, it's quite easy to pick up a new interest and feel like we need to buy-in to it to become a part of it. The truth is if you have a plastic water bottle stored away, use it to fill water on the go. Put some of your homes cutlery in a cloth napkin and reuse an old take away container for your lunch. It's all about repurposing.

5. Be easy on yourself.

Changing your mindset and becoming a conscious consumer comes with a lot of challenges, and it doesn't come without some small sacrifices—but nothing ever comes easy, does it? A habit I made over time was asking myself "can this be repurposed or reused?" before making a purchase or throwing something away in the bin.