Starting your zero or low waste journey can be daunting. You may find yourself asking questions like, “Where do I start?”, “Do I really have to invest money to replace my products?” and “Must I really change the way I live?” Don’t worry, we have got you covered! Here are 5 easy steps for anyone thinking of starting their low waste journey!
Less is more
A really easy way to go green is to simply BUY LESS! Thinking through your purchases not only saves money, but also minimizes the amount of energy needed to produce that item you are purchasing.
Ask yourself: “Do I really need a new bag?”, “How will this item benefit my life?”
By being mindful of your purchases, you will find that you don’t really need that many items to go about your life! Furthermore, you will start to treasure things you own as they would all be conscious purchases.
Another thing that you can do is to only buy the food that you need. According to NEA, food waste accounts for 10% of our total waste and that the amount of food waste has increased by over 40% over the last 10 years. As a nation, we generated a total of 676,800 tonnes of food waste in 2017 alone!
To minimize your contribution to our food waste problem, we suggest listing out the items you want to buy at the grocery store (yes, a good old fashion grocery list). You can do this by planning your meals ahead of time. Once you have come up with your dinner menu, do a quick pantry shop by looking through what you already own at home before listing down what you need to buy. How often do you end up throwing out rotten vegetables (we’ll get to composting some other time)? Sometimes we buy a pack of biscuit that gets kept in our cupboard for years until they eventually expire. Thus, remember to look through what you already have and only purchase the things you need to cook the dishes on your menu! Not only will this neat trick reduce food waste, but it also saves you the trouble of wondering what to cook for dinner during the day. WIN-WIN!
Always search for a second-hand version of your item first.
Need a camera or a sunhat for your upcoming trip? Why not buy the item second hand?
Take advantage of thrift shops and even carousell and use it to look for second-hand items. Especially those you will probably not require all the time! If you need winter wear, why not try borrowing from your friends before purchasing one (unless you’re an avid traveller, then I think it makes sense to buy your own)?
Try going meat-free one meal a week
Did you know that 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions is due to livestock and their byproducts? Thus, a plant-based diet cuts your greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. Additionally, 91% of the deforestation in the amazon rainforest is due to animal agriculture.
In view of these statistics, it is indubitable that a plant-based lifestyle is ideal for anyone looking to lower their carbon footprint. However, we understand that going plant-based might be too difficult due to our lifestyle habits and that Meatless Mondays may still prove to be difficult for some due to the planning involved to incorporate it. So why not try having one completely meat-free meal a week? This can be anything from vegetarian rice and dishes to a big salad with mushrooms or even a bowl of vegetarian noodles! With the number of vegetarian options in Singapore increasing, we are sure there will be something for you!
Recycle your trash. – even if it’s just some of it.
While reducing your waste is important, recycling your waste can come hand in hand to reducing. According to the Ministry of Environment and Water resources, Semakau Landfill will likely run out of space by 2035 if we do not do anything. By recycling, items that can otherwise have a second life will be saved from meeting their end in our incinerator. This in turn reduces our waste heading to Semakau. We know, recycling can sound like a tedious process. From having to wash out plastic bottles to simply having to bring your recycling all the way down (to throw into the big blue bin under your block). For some, the amount of energy needed, and the lack of convenience is simply off putting.
Our suggestion is to have 2 bins at home: One for trash and one for recycling. This makes it easy to simply toss items that can be recycled into the bin and then, take them all down at one go! Try to get over the inertia of needing to go down by simply bringing it down with you when you leave the house to go to work or to go out!
Skip the cup holder.
The reason why we are going to urge you to start with ditching a cup holder and not any other disposable is because swapping out other disposables such as straws and plastic bags may be too big a commitment to some. This is because they involve buying replacement items like a reusable metal or glass straw and carrying a reusable bag with you all the time. We feel like letting go of disposable cup holders is the easiest thing to do, hence why it made it into this list!
Isn’t it ridiculous how we ask for a carrier when we can just hold the drink in our hand? Unless you are buying more than one cup, why not just carry your drink in your hand? Another thing that you can do is to buy a reusable cup holder especially for your GongCha and Liho drinks! We placed this step last because investing in a cup holder may be a big leap for some. If you really need a plastic carrier, don’t beat yourself up about it! Simply recycle it when you get home or reuse it!
With that, we hope that everyone can start adopting small steps to reduce their waste. Every little action counts, so don’t worry if you mess up once in a while. What’s important is that we make conscious, impactful and sustainable changes. Besides, if you’re reading this, it means you have already taken a positive step! We wish you all the best on your new journey!