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The Practicality of Zero Waste Living

Practicality of Zero-Waste Living

There’s been a growing momentum for zero-waste living for the last 2-3 years, especially in Singapore. I myself have been listening in to all the chatter for almost a decade but only recently been more conscientious in my efforts. Actually, it was ever since my blogger friend, June, started her business Trove of Gaia, selling quality and pretty-looking eco-friendly products stemmed from sustainable practices and fair-trade conditions.

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I got to admit, I went all out to wanting to support her business. It helped that I have been wanting to get my hands onto those reusable menstrual pads in cute prints, but never really found out how and where to get them. Not only did I get the overnight pads that I was initially hunting, I also bought the cloth pads in medium size and snagged some colourful pantyliners too!

One thing led to another, and I bought these following items (among many others) within the span of 3 – 4 months. I truly believed in supporting friends as I have always admired those who have the courage and took the bold step to venture out, so I paid full price for these items. To say I instantly became her VIP customer is an understatement, hahah!

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Organic Soap Nuts
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Stainless Steel Curved Straw
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Reusable makeup facial washable cotton pads

But what I really admired June for, was her tenacity as she encourages her family members and friends to embark on the zero-waste living. And with no agenda behind it – no pushing of sales. Instead, June willingly shared tips on how one could start somewhere, no matter how small.

So how practical is this zero-waste lifestyle, you ask?

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If you were to inspect your daily routines closely, a lot of the things we are doing, surprisingly, are in the line towards sustainable living. How many of you have membership cards to your local library? Do you open your windows from time to time to cool your home or air it out? Or have you recently changed your light bulbs to LEDs? If you have said ‘yes’ to 2 out of the 3 questions above, you are on the right track! You just need to go the extra mile…

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There is no one correct way to do it. Rather there is a multitude of ways depending on your family dynamics and what you want to focus on. You can fight pollution and climate change with every small decision you make and zero-waste lifestyle is a big step in the green-living direction.

I thought it would be difficult, but the wee-bit of inconvenience is something that I can live with and with time, it gets easier and better. And now, I can’t imagine using some of the disposables. It takes little effort for me to reuse my cloth cotton pads when I wipe my face with the toner. I just need to rinse the dirt off with water, and then put them together with the laundry. Same goes for reusable pantyliners and menstrual pads. If washing the stain off gets to you, I would suggest opting for a cup instead.

I am also taking on more ways to reduce the use of plastic and styrofoam. One of which is to bring a container every time I plan to do a takeout.

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Reducing your carbon foot print is the most important thing you can do – especially the consumption of disposables such as plastic. Most of our trash ends up decomposing in landfills which generates greenhouse gases and many substances like plastic take up to 200 years to decompose. Yes, the garbage outlives us!!

Plastic Waste washed up at shore, Turneffe Atoll, Caribbean, Belize

One can start by weighing all of your options and take the first step towards being a conscious consumer. Small shifts and adjustments you make that can drastically reduce the trash that goes into our landfills or water systems. Here are some practical examples:

  • Simplify home cleaning with natural, multi-use products.
  • For hygiene products – go for reusable, not disposable.
  • When possible, buy local food and purchase it in bulk.
  • Think long-term when it comes to your clothes.

Zero-waste really is a most pragmatic way of life if you think about it, because it aims to not merely ‘manage’ waste but put an end to it. Tall order you think? It’s really not once you get the hang of it.

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But before you start getting your mind around that triangle, you have to do two things:

Take stock of your trash

For a week, count the plastic bags full of trash you throw away. This way, you will  know what’s your trash count. This itself will make you want to start living waste-free.

De-clutter

Remove all you don’t use or need to take stock of what you have and you don’t end up buying more of the same. I use this measurement as a rule of thumb; whatever that I’ve not used for the last 6 months, won’t be of any use in the near future (with the exception of some things like winter wear and luggage, for example). Of course when we say throw, we are not suggesting that you throw them outright. You can recycle them, give away those in good conditions, or donate to your local charity.

The lifestyle change may need some getting used to, but I challenge you to try. I’m far from being the guru and I’m not aiming for that, but every bit counts. I hope the simple steps I’ve shared helps make approaching a zero-waste lifestyle something do-able. Go for it!

Happy living!

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 Danessa is Singapore based full-time working mum, a bibliophile and a writer for hire. Read more about her at www.DanessaFoo.com. Reproduced with permission
Guest Writer: Danessa Foo