By Tiyani Rikhotso
With the detrimental effects of climate change playing out each day, it is important now more than ever to live sustainable and eco-friendly lives. The way we have been doing things has put our environment, wildlife and lives in jeopardy. From deforestation to natural disasters, pollution to rising sea levels and the extinction of species, the human race has a lot to answer for. Though we don’t stand face to face with these major challenges every day, it is our everyday habits that have an impact on the world around us. While we cannot reverse the damage we have already done, we must do all that we can to protect our planet going forwards. We can make changes to our lives that will have less of an impact on our environment and slow down the effects of climate change.
The zero waste movement aims to do just that by promoting a waste free (or low waste) way of living. Instead of accumulating rubbish that ends up in landfills, you focus on reusing and recycling, cutting down on your consumption and staying clear of non-biodegradable packaging and materials. Here are 5 zero-waste swaps you can make to join in on the movement.
- Reusable shopping bags – Most of us have these in our homes and only find ourselves using plastic bags during impromptu shopping trips. If you haven’t yet invested in these, on your next grocery trip invest in a few (4 is a good amount to consider and you can increase or decrease this based on how much you shop for in a go). They are usually along the aisles or at the till and retail for about R20 – R40 which makes them a worthy and affordable investment.
- Glass or stainless-steel straws – Many restaurants and fast food chains have swapped plastic straws for biodegradable ones, but the majority still rely on plastic ones. If you can’t let go of a straw altogether, you can invest in your own reusable straw that you can bring with you on outings (or use when at home). They usually come with their own pouch and cleaning brush and go for anywhere between R60 and R120 online, at most health food stores and markets.
- Soap bars – If you use body wash you can swap it out for a soap bar instead to decrease the amount of plastic you’re using. After food, our toiletries are often the next biggest culprits for being packaged in unfriendly materials. Switching to a natural soap bar is a great alternative not only for the environment (as they are usually package free or wrapped in paper) but for your skin too as you are avoiding the harsh chemicals in most conventional products. Markets, health food stores and natural skin and body care brands are your best sources of natural soaps.
- Reusable water bottle – Say no to bottled water and opt for having your own water bottle that you carry around with you and refill as you need. Glass or steel would be best but if those options are not available to you then a BPA-free reusable plastic bottle will work just fine. The Consol ‘grip n go’ glass bottle is just under R50 and is a great affordable option that will bring you one step closer to plastic-free living!
- Don’t buy what you don’t need – This isn’t a swap but encouragement to say no to buying or taking things (yes, its okay to say no to freebies) that you don’t need. It’s easy to get swept up in the materialist culture we live in and accumulate lots of “stuff” that just sits around until it gets rusty or you get bored and end up tossing it. From cool gadgets, trendy décor and accessories to other bits and bobs; always ask yourself if you REALLY need it and whether you see yourself using it more than once or even at all? Often the answer is no. Leave it behind. This will save your wallet and our waste load from the added pressure of more purchases.