Written by Neha Kalavati
I am starting to wonder about my attitude towards sustainability, about protecting our Mother Earth. I have had a good education, where I am aware of ill- adverse effects my actions have on planet earth. I have studied all this in environmental science in school. In fact, we all have. Why is it that we need a young girl like Greta Thunberg to protest, for us to notice what wrong we have been doing? The embarrassing thing to me is that I didn't take any action before and after Greta. Even after being so educated, I do not understand why I ended up neglecting the one thing that is quintessential right now, saving our planet Earth!
Having a sense of guilt in my heart, I started searching for various ways I can reduce my waste, and live sustainably, And I was blown by how many easy steps I could take to help in my own little way.
Down below, I have 7 easy ways you can reduce your household wastes.
1. Understand your why?
While making decisions on a whim can be exciting, they do not last long. Understand why you want to do what you want to do. Is it because you care for the earth? Or you want to be environmentally responsible, Or you just want to do it for your own peace of mind. Whatever it is, write it down. Take some time to come up with your exact reason. This way, you will be able to stick to your decisions for a long time.
2. Use minimalism to combat waste reduction: Eco-minimalism
I have been following minimalism for 2 years now. If you are a minimalist too, you are already helping the environment in a teeny-tiny way!! It means you already own bare minimum things. If you are trying to generate less waste or trying to be as low waste as possible, adopting minimalism can help you along the way. You see, generating less waste comes from owning less. If you own less, you are automatically reducing your consumption on the first step itself. By continually buying new things, you create a demand, and minimalism puts an end to it. Overall, leading to your reduction of carbon footprint.
Here are things you should adopt:
● Do not buy unnecessary things.
● Re-use and repurpose as much as possible. If there is a way to fix it, go ahead and re-use it.
● If you can't re-use it and have to buy a new one, try shopping second-hand or thrift-shopping.
● Go on a budget - Saves you money and helps the environment!
3. Find an eco-friendly alternative to everything in the house.
Part of reducing the household waste comes down to what you use on a day to day basis, and if you utilize 'use and throw' stuff, or single-use plastic, Maybe it's time to rethink all that.
An average person uses around 300 brushes in his lifetime.
In India alone, An average of 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated per day, excluding all the uncollected garbage. This includes plastic straws, single-use plastic takeaway containers, plastic toothpaste tubes, and this list never ends.
A Single woman generates up to 125 kg of sanitary waste during her menstruating years alone.
Can you imagine? All this waste that is being generated will end up in a landfill just outside your city. The first toothbrush you used in your life probably exists in some landfill even today! Taking up all the space on earth, making it impossible to use that land for anything else.
As consumers, as beings on earth, our motive is to reduce the waste that ends up in landfills.
Here's what can you do
● Use eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes and hair combs instead of plastic ones.
● Avoid using single-use plastic bags, instead use cloth bags.
● Avoid using liquid shampoos and try shampoo bars instead.
● Switch from using plastic straws to metal or bamboo straws.
● Re-use the plastic containers if you can, Do the same with glass jars.
● Use reusable batteries instead of single-use batteries.
4. Go vegan - Go green.
I know the fact that meat has become a staple in many households in India. While I understand how appetizing it is to our taste buds, It is a bad idea for Sustainability.
Veganism is an effective solution to heal the environment and to reduce our carbon footprint. Animal husbandry requires massive amounts of land, water, food, and energy. Hence, depleting natural resources, leading to deforestation, and emission of global greenhouse gases.
A study shows that it takes 2,400 gallons of water in producing 1 pound of meat. Whereas, It takes just 25 gallons of water in producing 1 pound of wheat!
Here's what you can do:
● If you consume meat all 7 days of the week, it can be harder to cut it down. Go slow. If you cut it down all at once, There are higher chances of going back to being a non-vegetarian real quick!
● Substituting meat with a fresh vegan diet has positive effects, not only on your overall health but also on a spiritual level.
● A diet that benefits you and the earth! Well, that's a win-win!
5. Compost your organic waste.
When your organic waste is dumped in a landfill, It cannot breakdown properly. This results in the production of toxic gases like methane, which raises the temperature of the earth.
Here's what can you do:
● Compost at the comfort of your home. It is easy and doesn't require any maintenance.
6. Avoid wasting your food.
Did you know that one-third of food produced for our consumption is wasted! These facts are astonishing! It is high time we make sure that food is not ending up in the dustbin.
Here's what you can do:
● Cook proportionately.
● Make sure you consume the leftover food the next day.
● Meal plan to make sure nothing gets wasted.
● Do a pantry challenge wherein you use up everything that's left unused in your pantry.
7. Shop responsibly.
Taking just this step will make you environmentally responsible. Observing and inculcating small changes in your shopping habits can make an enormous difference!
Here's what you can do:
● Shop locally- Buy your food from local vendors, Which means you eliminate unnecessary plastic wraps. Plus, you end up supporting local businesses.
● Buy in Bulk- Buying in bulk will cost you less money and eliminates plastic packaging.
● Don't shop based on the latest trends- Just because it is on-trend, doesn't mean you need it.
All of these make a lifestyle change and a lifestyle change doesn't happen overnight. It needs patience and consistency. Take your time, take it slow, but make it happen.