The zero waste lifestyle is all about sustainability and should be fun. If you’re keen to experiment with a zero waste way of life, adopt a system that works for you and your family and have fun experimenting and cutting down on what you bring in your house (and ultimately trash!). Take baby steps and do not be overwhelmed by the experience as every little helps! With the earth’s population now at 7 billion, it makes sense to share our planet in a respectful way – it is, after all, the only way.
Fight junk mail. It’s not just a waste of resources, but also of time. Collect your junk mail over a month and then spend 10 minutes calling all of the companies (their number is usually on their mail) to opt out. This really is easy and liberating!
Turn down freebies from conferences, fairs, and parties. Every time you take one, you create a demand to make more. Do you really need another “free” pen, reusable bag, notepad, or tee shirt? The likely truth is that you already have plenty at home and will never use them all!
Bring your own tumbler to coffee shops; add unpackaged sugar and ask for a steel spoon to stir. At a bar, order draught beer, a soda with no straw or a cocktail without straw or stirrer and decline a coaster. At the hairdresser ask for coffee or tea without a paper lid. At the spa ask for your facial without using disposable cotton or tissue paper but only washable cloth… the list goes on! Be creative and explain you are trying to cut down on waste and you’ll usually find that people are very responsive.
Declutter your home and donate to local charities, friends and neighbours. You’ll lighten your load, your apartment will be much easier to clean, you’ll gain space and make precious resources available to those looking to buy secondhand. Everyone wins!
Reduce your shopping trips and keep a shopping list. The less you bring home, the less waste you’ll have to deal with. Instead spend this time with your family, friends or give back to the community. I promise that you won’t miss it!
Swap disposable for reusable. Start by using handkerchiefs, refillable bottles, shopping totes, cloth napkins, rags, steel cutlery, steel straws and chopsticks, and see where you can make improvements!
Avoid grocery-shopping waste. Bring reusable totes, cloth bags (for bulk aisles), and containers for wet items like cheese and deli foods to the store and farmers market.
This should be your last resort as Hong Kong’s recycling program is quite unreliable. Instead, contact professionals like HKRecycles. Have you refused, reduced or reused first? Question the need and lifecycle of your purchases. Shopping is voting!
Buy primarily in bulk or secondhand. If you must buy new, choose glass, metal or cardboard. Avoid plastic – it is hard to recycle and often ends up in landfill, or worse yet, the ocean. HK has plenty of Facebook pages advertising secondhand products – take advantage of our close proximity, which makes things easy to collect!
Find a compost or Bokashi system that works for your apartment. Experiment at first, then master the art of composting. If you are lucky enough and end up with too much, hand the extra to neighbours and friends for their herb gardens, or find a local farmer who will happily take your ‘black gold’!
Proactively change your life
All those classic New Year’s resolutions will actually happen! You will lose weight eating mainly local, organically-produced veggies and fruits, and also by eating far less meat and over-packaged processed foods. You will save money by avoiding buying things you do not need. You might even make a bit of extra money by selling things that clutter your place and your mind. You will be happier by unburdening your life from an excess of ‘things’ and concentrating on what is important to you – your health, friendships, family.
Happy Green New Year!
For more details on zero waste living in Hong Kong visit Hong Kong Green Home.
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