Every day we buy, use and consume things in our homes that are leaving a lasting impact on the world we live in. So, what changes can we make to help us reduce our waste, improve the future of the planet and live healthier and happier lives?
Poring over interior magazines and dreamily swiping through enviable decor trends is an idle pastime for many of us. We’re often on the lookout for inspiration and ideas for our next round of home improvements.
But what if we took this a step further and thought not only about improving how our homes look, but also how we could live in them better and more sustainably?
What is zero waste?
So much of what we use goes into landfill and, often, recyclable items can only be recycled once before becoming un-recyclable. The zero waste movement, with the aim of keeping what we throw away to the absolute minimum, is one that’s growing in momentum.
It’s about rethinking how we live, what we buy and how we use things; reducing our potential for waste, having a positive impact on the planet and giving us fuller, more vibrant lives at the same time!
Embracing zero waste’s five Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot
A waste-free lifestyle might sound hard to achieve but Bea Johnson, the founder of the ‘zero waste lifestyle movement’, came up with five simple rules to follow, in this order, that make it much easier than you might think!
It’s all about saying ‘no’. Think about what you have in your home, including food, clothing and homeware. When it comes to buying new things or someone offering you something, ask yourself ‘Do I really need this?’ If not, say ‘No thank you’ and move on.
Saying ‘yes’ creates more demand for the item, leading to more being produced and, often, more waste.
Tip: Turn down freebies, refuse items like plastic bags and straws and say goodbye to unnecessary purchases that fill a temporary hole.
Having too much ‘stuff’ can feel overwhelming. So it’s time to declutter, donate items to charity shops and let go of all non-essential things. This way, you’ll only keep what you need and enjoy, and your favourite items will have the space they deserve.
And it might help your bank balance too - find out how in our guide to making money from the hidden valuables in your home.
Tip: Paying close attention to what you use, throw and give away can help you make adjustments to avoid, refuse and reduce things you don’t need.
How many disposable items do you use every day? Things such as plastic water bottles, face wipes, tea bags and paper napkins are all single-use culprits.
The good news is that you’ll find almost all disposable things in your life can be swapped for reusable alternatives. You’ll save money too by not spending it on things you’ll throw away!
Tip: Wash and keep your glass jars to attractively store and organise cupboard ingredients and to store food in the fridge without using clingfilm.
Did you know that zero waste living actually means recycling less? We should only recycle what we cannot use and only as a last resort after the refuse, reduce and reuse steps. It makes sense when we know that many things can’t be recycled more than once.
Tip: Avoid buying plastic and try to keep new purchases to glass, card and metal that can be recycled more easily.
The final rule is simple. Just rot or compost anything that’s left. It’s recycling in the best possible way; returning anything that came from the ground back into the ground, to grow more from the ground.
You can do this at home and enjoy the benefits, as well as thinking about other ways you can have an environmentally-friendly garden.
Tip: Many councils collect food waste but try using your own worm composting bin instead, you’ll produce fantastic fertiliser and compost in no time.
What changes can I make in my home to become zero waste?
- Avoid products and food that come with plastic packaging – it can encourage you to use healthier, fresh ingredients, fewer chemicals and will save you money
- Try zero waste alternatives like baking your own snacks and keeping them fresh in glass jars or making an all-purpose cleaner with vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and lemons
- Zero waste stores are popping up around the country to help you buy sustainably
When it comes to having a waste-free ethos at home, it’s also worth thinking about your energy use. Installing smart energy meters and thermostats can help you understand and adjust your energy habits, which can both lower your bills and benefit the environment.
Smart thermostats can also be cost-saving by notifying you when temperatures drop - helping to prevent frozen pipes and safeguarding you against incidents that might lead to home insurance claims.
Living simpler, smarter and happier
A zero waste lifestyle is about buying less and living more. It’s about really appreciating and enjoying what you have.
But it’s also worth noting that zero waste doesn’t mean limiting your interior design flair. In fact, quite the opposite; just take a look at Bea Johnson’s home for inspiration.
With zero waste living, she’s achieved stylish spacious areas; complementing modern interiors with contemporary second-hand furnishings.
And, with the savings you’ll make from adopting waste-free habits, you can enjoy other luxuries that focus on living rather than having - you might find yourself going on more travels and adventures, and enjoying more memorable experiences with friends and family!
And if you’re interested in becoming a more eco-conscious traveller, we’ve got a great guide on green travel and eco-friendly holiday choices.
Zero waste living doesn’t happen overnight, but small changes can make a big difference. It can bring you a lifestyle that focuses on quality over quantity, one that benefits your wellbeing and has a positive impact on the world’s future.
It’s a win-win situation!