Does something hold you back from living more eco-friendly? Fears, assumptions, excuses?
Find out down below popular misconceptions about zero waste lifestyle that often scares people away but are wrong. You will feel more confident to start living sustainably and will gain knowledge about the zero-waste lifestyle.
#1 Recycling is enough and solves the problem
Sadly, many things can not be recycled. This system is not perfect and doesn’t stop the problem of waste at the base rather than fights with the consequences of hyper-consumerism. Still, recycling is a part of zero waste but it’s not the main aspect. More important is to refuse, say no to buying unnecessary, single-use items but reuse, repair the things you own rather than buying new.
Recycling generally still demands to use a lot of energy to process waste into usable, raw material. Often it’s too hard to do and doesn’t pay off that’s why companies refuse to recycle some particular items as single-use utensils, straws, styrofoam, greasy cardboard, composite materials.
Also, plastic can not be recycled infinite times, after 3 – 4 times of recycling the material becomes too poor quality and ends up into landfills. The lower the number on plastic packaging the higher chance it will be recycled. The best for recycling are metal, glass. Items made from glass can be recycled over and over again.
#2 Zero-waste lifestyle is expensive
Of course, it can be if you contribute to consumerism and buy more eco- friendly products which you don’t need. By making smart choices you can save a ton of money.
For instance, buying coffee with your reusable cup can save you money as more coffee shops are giving discounts to customers. Going thrift shopping will be a budget-friendly way to find original, modern clothes for a reasonable price. While purchasing food locally in the farmers market and the bulk store, you will not need to pay for packaging and will save some money.
Choosing plant-based, seasonal food products will be much cheaper as it does not require so many resources. For example, tomatoes in the season will cost you less than in winter. Strawberries from the nearby farms will be better for the environment than those from far away counties because of transportation. Eating seasonally as much as possible and locally is the key.
Ditch the bottled water. In most cities tap water quality is high and checked often. In some instances, it has even higher standards than bottled water. Mostly you pay for a plastic bottle that makes extra waste and can even leach some chemicals. If you are still worried about tap water, you can put filter on your sink or buy water filter jug which will save money too, although cartridges are not recyclable.
In addition to that, planning out purchases and investing in more expensive but higher quality items will save money in the long run. For example, a cheap food processor will cost you more as it will not have the same longevity as the higher class food processor and will need replacement much quicker.
Saying goodbye to many prepackage convenience goods will save you tons of money. Start making food from scratch at home. Busy? Try meal prepping in advance.
Ride a bike or public transportation. Biking is free and will save you a lot of money and less pollution. Hurray!
Always ask yourself why and do I really need it. Would I buy this handbag if it will be 3x more expensive? Think critically and not give in to impulsive buying. Repairing, reusing, and borrowing necessary items will be best for your wallet and environment.
#3 Aesthetics is the most important part of the Zero Waste lifestyle
You have probably seen many popular zero waste/minimalism lifestyle YouTubers, bloggers who have the most aesthetic kitchen with same looking glass jars and rooms without clutter in white or monochrome pastel tones.
Yea, that looks very satisfying and inspiring.
Although, it can also seem like an impossible lifestyle to attain especially being on a student budget or living with parents or just at the beginning of the low-waste journey.
I am here to tell you that it’s not the main focus when it comes to the Zero Waste lifestyle. My blog’s motto says it best – “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people to do it imperfectly. ” Anne Marie Bonneau.
Don’t get into perfectionism cage but just try step by step introducing eco-friendly habits in your everyday life as the best you can. Just start and don’t get discouraged at first.
It’s pointless to buy new same looking glass jars to look like a minimalist. Purchasing new items makes the demand for new resources and continues the problem of overconsumption. In the end, your old jars that have some stickers on or are different sizes end up as waste even though were perfectly usable.
It doesn’t sound smart to make more waste and spend your money unnecessary, right?
I encourage you to look for ways to reuse, repair the things you already have. Use the glass jars you have, you can color them in cute colors or designs, etc. Be creative!
#4 One person can not make a difference
Everything starts with one person. You can be a good example and inspire other people to live a more sustainable lifestyle or even think about it.
Of course, big corporate companies have a more impact than just one person but you as a customer can demand changes. You eventually play a big role in how businesses operate as they want to adapt to customers’ wants and needs.
Why not start a discussion with your friends, family if they are interested or watch some documentaries together for example “Plastic Ocean,” Minimalism,” “True Cost,” “Cowspiracy”?
Share and post on social media about a zero-waste lifestyle and the dangers of pollution. Be part of NGO or student clubs who support and do environment protection initiatives. Go and show your voice in protest actions etc. and vote for political parties that stand for sustainable resource management and sees global warming as a real issue.
#5 You have to get rid of all the plastic items you have
Not at all. For example, throwing out plastic containers just because metal one looks prettier adds to the waste problem which zero waste lifestyle tries to minimize.
Even buying new “eco-friendly items” you demand new resources to be used and are part of consumerism which is the main thing why there is so much waste.
You don’t need to buy an item right away only because it’s eco-friendly. Like different kinds of straws or too many water bottles, tote bags. Think about will you use it often and is it very necessary to have or is it just an impulsive urge?
Zero Waste philosophy concentrates on giving things second chance and using things as long as you can. Only if the plastic container is broken, you look forward to new fancy, and more eco-friendly replacement. If you don’t want to use the plastic items anymore for food storage as it can leach toxic chemicals then use to store dry foods or your accessories, jewelry.
#6 You have to wear only pastel, white or monochrome clothes
Minimalist and eco-friendly people are often perceived to have pastel or monochrome garderobe only.
Although, it’s not about pastel colors or everything white. It’s about finding your style that feels empowering and choosing quality over quantity.
It is crucial to analyze brand initiatives and sustainability efforts by asking, researching how and where my clothes were made. Do people who work there received fair wages and safe conditions? How my t-shirt is so cheap? These are the thing to focus on. I encourage to see the movie “True cost” which explains the dangers of fast fashion.
But hey, if you like “minimalistic style”, go for it but if you are like me and love to wear different colors then that’s great too! It’s possible to get a colorful capsule garderobe with sustainable clothes by thrifting, choosing eco brands, and decluttering closet.
It’s more important to make sure that the brand has fair and sustainable practices in the making, selling the items. Make sure they have eco-labels, certificates, and pages dedicated to sustainability initiatives on their website. Don’t hesitate to write to them personally and ask.
If you want to understand fast fashion deeper I suggest watching this video made by amazing Youtuber – “Sustainably vegan”
#7 You have to be vegan or vegetarian
A plant-based diet is more environmentally friendly than eating meat and animal products but you don’t necessarily need to be vegan or vegetarian.
Even limiting the size of meat you eat per meal or doing meatless Mondays will have benefits on lowering your carbon footprint.
The livestock industry is the main water, air polluter, because of inefficient, wasteful farming practices and the ruminant digestive system. Cows’ digestive system produces methane gas which is more harmful to the atmosphere than CO2. Moreover, If we look at how much resources go into growing an animal and how much water, land, grains are used is overwhelming. Transportation, manufacturing, and overprocessing meat into different products also ads up to higher pollution rates.
Although a vegan diet dramatically lowers our CO2 footprint on the planet it still can have some negative effects if the plant-based products are highly imported and not in season. Again avocados, mangos, or vegetables from far away will have a high carbon footprint due to transportation. Coconut, banana, palm-oil plantations often cut down forests to make more space while destroying wild animal habitats.
Limiting animal product consumption can help to stop climate change, air, water pollution, save natural resources, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Learn more on the Guardian article about how limiting meat and dairy intake can be the single biggest way to reduce the impact on the Earth.
Also, did you know that fish contains plastic?
Write down in comments what you think and do you have more misconceptions about zero waste lifestyle? What stops you from living more eco-friendly? Curious to know.
Keep it minimal waste – extra life!
See you in the next post!