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Bringing Your Trash To Zero: A Practical Guide

a street art saying Listen to the people, not the polluters

Disposables have become so common in our daily lives that with every trip to the supermarket we fill our bins with plastic and cardboard packaging. The Business Line reported that we generate about 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. This waste makes up a huge part of landfills, polluting our lands, rivers, seas, and air. All of this plastic waste has nowhere to go for 500-1000 years.

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.

Jane Goodall

It paints a bleak picture and many of us are considering doing something about it. One significant step would be to embark on a journey towards zero-waste living. There are plenty of Ted talks to take inspiration from; however, attempting zero-waste living in India comes with a few different challenges. And these tips will help you navigate them.

Related: Eco anxiety: is climate change taking a toll on your mental health?

Be very clear about why you’re going zero-waste

a quote by anne leonard

Changing your entire lifestyle is not likely to be easy at any point; accept that you will have good days and you will have bad days. Listing out the reasons you are attempting this lifestyle change will give you something to strengthen your resolve on the bad days.

Also, you’re more likely to stick to something in the long run if you understand the impact of what you’re doing. Attempting a change just to follow the current trend is not likely to yield a long-term result.

Be realistic about your journey, it could look like it’s going slow

a quote by Anne Marie Bonneau
Source: Zero Waste Chef on Twitter

Disposable waste is everywhere so it’s very easy to accumulate. Realistically, your transformation to sustainable living is going to be slow. Remind yourself that even slow change is valid. Don’t beat yourself up about slip-ups or compare yourself to someone who looks like they’re doing it better. Any change is progress and taking it one step at a time contributes to a lasting change. The key is to find convenient, impactful alternatives that may take longer to research and find.

Be prepared to answer lots of questions

an illustration talking about '10 easy ways to use less plastic'

Be prepared for lots of questions (step 1 will come in handy here), some of your friends and family may not take this change seriously. Don’t let it frustrate you. You do you and lead by example. Start with making changes in your individual habits – choose what you buy more carefully, carry your own reusable bags and phase out plastic from your space. Once the skeptics see the difference it’s making in your life, it may prompt them to switch over as well.

Related: how to shop for clothes without harming the planet

Learn to spot greenwashing

an illustration about the 'trash economy'

If you’re going to the trouble of making big changes in your lifestyle, make sure it’s having the impact you want it to. Many brands are catching on that customers are looking for ‘green’ brands and resorting to ‘greenwashing’ their marketing, no matter whether their process and products are eco-friendly or not. Educate yourself enough to see through these ploys so your changes for a sustainable living make the impact you intend. Don’t hesitate to write to companies or brands about your zero-waste lifestyle and the kind of changes you’re looking forward to. As a customer, you have a powerful voice to prompt change.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

– Margret Mead
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