What is Minimal Waste Living?
Zero Waste is a term we use to describe a way of living in which we attempt to reduce the amount of waste we produce as much as we possibly can.
It involves our decision making throughout the consumption life cycle…about what we purchase, consume and discard.
Why try to minimise your waste?
- Impacts of climate change are more apparent than ever, we need to act now to prevent further damage.
- Our resources are finite! We can’t take them for granted.
- Feeling empowered, We can make a difference as individuals all acting together!
- Through our purchasing habits we can take action to reverse the negative effects of wasteful living. Everything is thrown somewhere, we need to question the lifetime cycles of products and how the wasted resources are dealt with.
- Through spreading awareness we can challenge corporations and governments to become more efficient in taking responsibility for the negative impacts our societies on climate change.
- Avoid single use products
- Cut out unneeded/ frivolous purchases
- Remember you have the power to Say NO!! This includes unnecessary packaging, freebies, junk mail, receipts etc!
- Try to buy loose fruit and veg. Bring your own container to the butchers or fishmongers.
- Avoid fast fashion, Buy to last!!!
- Make a Meal Plan for the week and check what you have at home before food shopping.
- Learn what needs are versus wants. When shopping a sk yourself, ‘Do I really need this?’, delay the purchase to check. Tidy your house to find out what you already have before buying new.
- Things you can’t refuse, buy less often, switch to a reusable, recyclable or compostable version instead (see section on reusing)
- Borrow, trade/swap, make, pool, hire, grow your own, forage!
- Reduce the number of containers you bin by refilling your own containers at your local sustainable businesses
- Invest in Reusable products: eg Tote bags, coffee cup, water bottle, take your own container when getting lunch out, re use jars, plastic containers as storage, cotton bags for loose produce
- Buy to last and look after stuff better so it can endure the test of time.
- When you have already got something, use it more and in different ways.
- Get stuff mended or go to a Repair Café. Appliances and machinery often just need a new part which will save you buying a complete replacement.
- Upcycle; bring unwanted items to places that will repurpose the materials such as the recovery centre, Ballymun.
- Watch videos about reusing and repurposing, this is a great way to get creative and have fun!
- Reuse plastic (e.g. cereal bags for freezing, take away container as lunch box). Remember ‘something is never thrown away, it’s just thrown somewhere’.
Your Go to Zero Waste Starter Kit:
1) Reusable bags including reusable Produce bags (eg cotton bags for fruit/veg)
2) Reusable Water Bottle
3) Reusable Coffee Cup
4) Jars: Reuse jars that you have to buy and store produce from your local refill store
5) Wooden/ Sustainable Toothbrush
6) Sustainable sanitary products/ Nappies
7) Plastic free beauty products (shampoo bars, Pitt putti, refill containers with shampoo/ soaps etc from a refill store)
8) Use bees wax wraps or simply use a cloth napkin to avoid using cling film or tin foil
9) Stainless steel or reusable lunch box (even when getting lunch to take away)
10) Stainless Steel cutlery or get a Spork! Keep it in your bag to avoid single use cutlery
11) Stainless Steel or wooden Kitchen utensils (avoids unnecessary plastics in the kitchen)
12) Eliminate Food waste! Use a brown bin or get a home composting bin
- Recycle correctly, using the new guidelines here
- Bring stuff you can’t put in green bin (e.g. aerosols) to local recycle centre if possible
- Beware of incineration being classified as recycle (e.g. soft plastics in local recycling centre)
- Chose products in recy clable/compostable packaging
- Establish a user friendly recycling system at work
- Remember that recycling isn’t panacea and we don’t really know where it ends up
- Invite a Recycling Ambassador from VOICE to do a workshop in your workplace/school
- Get to know your bins!
Re home what can’t be recycled
- Passing stuff to others avoids consumption
- Declutter without binning
- Sell or donate online (adverts.ie, donedeal.ie etc.)
- Give stuff to charity shop
- Give away clothes etc. that you haven’t worn in ages
- Look up your nearest electronic recycling facility eg. Electronicrecycling.ie
- Sometimes it is hard to find a home for our old stuff. Search on Zero Waste Ireland Facebook group for ideas
When food and garden materials end up in our landfills they rot underground producing methane a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide!
- Get a brown bin (industrial compost) if you can (all cooked and uncooked food, compostable packaging). Waste service providers are legally obliged to provide brown bins for collection of food waste to customers living in towns and villages with a population of greater than 500 people. See Brown Bins explained!
- Even better, try home composting! Composting at home makes you aware of any food you are throwing out, therefore generating less food waste and saving money. Not to mention saving on resources and energy by avoiding any collection or transport.
- For cooked food scraps and meat you can get a bokashi bin (small home compost system that takes all food scrap), keeping hens, a womery or local community gardens.
- If you garden, gift cuttings to friends and reuse seeds that you’d throw away to grow food.
What to do Right Now?
- Avoid single use products altogether by having your own reusable products.
- Recycle regular cups/straws etc in a green recycling bin so that can be turned back into plastic.
- Ensure that ‘Biodegradable’ plastics are placed in a bin that will go to an industrial compost site such as a brown bin.
- Get Active, write your local TDs, sign petitions, seek out grassroots environmental campaigning groups you can join, join Climate Action protests!