ZERO wastage seems like a mammoth task for many – the term itself creates that intimidation. Don’t worry, by zero waste we all mean close to zero waste. To be part of the sustainable movement is surprisingly pocket-friendly and easily implementable, it just takes dedication towards the cause.
Start by observing the amount of trash that you generate in a day – this might inspire you to reduce what you throw away with just a few adjustments.
Here are five easy steps that all of us can adopt to be able to combat climate change, encourage ‘giving back’ and bring about social equity in our community.
1. Swapping or donating clothes
When you feel like you need a change in your wardrobe, instead of shopping organise a meet-up of friends who are willing to exchange clothes. We all did this as roommates – why not make this a habit for life? You get a new set of clothes at zero cost and zero waste.
You can also donate your clothes to the underprivileged but make sure these are not torn or throwaway clothes, but the kind that you wouldn’t mind giving a friend.
2. Reuse and say NO to single-use plastic
With 18 Indian states having imposed a complete ban on the sale, use and manufacture of plastic bags, hopefully you have an array of reusable cloth bags to take with you when you go shopping. This could be your contribution to stop the oceans from choking.
Avoid plastic straws or even paper straws. Try drinking without a straw or you can always get yourself a metal straw and carry it with you whenever you need to.
Also, when you dine out in a restaurant don’t forget to take a reusable box – instead of asking them to parcel your leftovers, you can take it home in your box and enjoy it later.
3. Reduce food waste, start composting
Before buying more food or ordering ready-to-eat meals, check what you have at home. Ensure you finish the perishable foods before buying more. Maybe you can use the refrigerator less often and donate the surplus cooked food to those in need. many NGOs such as Feeding India, Akshaya Aahara Foundation, Robin Hood Army, collect excess food and distribute it to the hungry.
As for the unavoidable kitchen waste, you can try composting and use it to feed your houseplants.
4. Let’s go back to handkerchiefs!
Many people in metro cities use tissues extensively on a daily basis. Replacing them with the forgotten personal cloth towels or handkerchiefs can go a long way in reducing unnecessary waste. Or, from those few takeaways that you get when you’ve no food at home or no time to cook, save the paper napkins they always come with, and use those if you need to and put them to more judicious use.
5. Switch to reusable pads and diapers
Every year 12.3billion sanitary napkins are disposed in India. This can now be tackled by switching to affordable, chemical-free alternatives. Organisations such as Ecofemme, Jaoini have introduced cloth pads which can be washed and reused. Similarly, menstruation cups are a trending new product that can last for a decade. Silky Cup produce them at affordable prices.
While a baby needs about 5,000 disposable diapers till they are potty-trained, diapers take between 500-700 years to decompose and are choking our landfills. Plus they are expensive and the chemicals used in them can be harmful for babies. Instead, using a cloth diaper is a cheaper, sustainable and a safer alternative – and there are now many choices in the market.
So let’s take a pledge to go ZERO waste with SMALL changes to make a BIG impact!
-by Ashika Jaffar
Support Akshay Aahara’s campaign to save surplus food from going to waste and feeding the hungry.