Trash is a part of our daily lives. The wrapper from the candy you just ate is trash. Your phone bill statement from last month is trash. Even the black plastic bag you use to throw out your rubbish is trash as well.
We, human beings, produce trash several times a day, more than we are aware of. While the trash itself is an issue, our ignorance towards the situation is the biggest problem.
As teachers or advocates of Zero Waste, it is your responsibility to tell people about the importance of changing their lifestyle. Destroy the myth that going waste-free is impossible. Whether you live in a hut by the ocean or in a city apartment, a Zero Waste lifestyle is something anyone can do, as long as you do it right.
1. Teach them how to say no.
The first step to living sustainably is to refuse plastic packaging, or any packaging at all. Although many malls have begun to provide Zero Waste packaging for their customers, your shopping experience won’t always be plastic-free. Some stores will still stuff your purchases into plastic bags. Food establishmentsuse flimsy, disposable containers if you want to take your food home. Beverage stalls pierce your cups with plastic straws. Bookstores still wrap brand new books in thick plastic covers that will eventually just end up in the trash.
Tell your students and peers that the next time they want to purchase something, say no – politely – to plastic or any packaging of some sort. What they can do, instead, is pack a reusable tote bag or carry around stainless steel containers wherever they go. Researching on Zero Waste options is also a good idea.
2. Teach them about Zero Waste alternatives.
Speaking of Zero Waste options, this is one lesson that is essential to converting into Zero Waste completely.
Paper towels, dish sponges and plastic toothbrushes are rubbish that we often use at home. Replacing these items completely might seem ridiculous, and even impossible,but remind your students that there is always an alternative.
Lauren Singer, the genius behind Trash is for Tossers and one of the most famous Zero Waste advocates, has a list of sustainable substitutes for household items. She writes about the best alternatives to almost every kind of household items you can think of, most of which her store Package-Free Shop carries. From sealing tape to plastic razors, Lauren has you covered.
3. Teach them the tricks of the trade when it comes to shopping secondhand.
One of the biggest waste problems is the global production industry itself. With consumerism as the backbone of our economy, our factories are told to produce more than what we can consume. As a result, most of the unbought food, clothes, and toys from stores just end up in either our landfills or in the ocean.
If you relay this information to your students, they are less likely to want to contribute to the demand for goods. Tell them the advantages of buying things from thrift shops, secondhand stores, and bargain boutiques. By buying items from these places, they are doing three things: saving money, preserving the environment, and bringing home goods from an existing surplus. Let them in on the secrets to discovering treasures amongst other people’s trash.
4. Teach them how to make their own household products.
Bea Johnson, known as the Mother of Zero Waste and founder of Zero Waste Home, is a sucker for sustainable recipes. She was a significant influence of Lauren Singer and has been an advocate since 2008. In her blog, she has several articles on Zero Waste detergents, toothpaste, and deodorant that almost anyone can make on their own.
If you spend a few minutes on Google, you will immediately see a long list ofrecipes for kitchen, health, and beauty products that are all made out of items from your kitchen. Learning how to make your own products reduces your usage of plastic packaging from supermarkets and drugstores all while being very gentle to your body.
5. Teach them how to unleash their creativity.
We all know that waste only becomes waste once it hits the garbage can. But, you always have the choice to give your trash a second life.
Your mother was very clever when she snipped old jeans and t-shirts to turn them into cleaning rags. Empty peanut butter jars can serve as containers for the kitchen. Gather all your plastic bags and make a sculpture out of them. Glue together used cardboard boxes then turn them into an organizer for your bedroom.Turn your Pinterest addiction into productivity by using your waste for your creative projects. Just let your imagination run wild. In short: have fun.
6. Teach them how to compost.
The concrete jungle of the city shouldn’t stop you from composting your waste. In fact, it’s easy to set up a compost bin in your home. If you live in the suburbs, do it in the garden. For apartment dwellers, a rooftop or a terrace may be perfect outdoor spaces for composting, just ask your admin.
After adding leaves and garden trimmings to the designated compost bin, have your child throw in their biodegradable food waste onto the heap after each meal. A compost pile helps feed your greens, conserve water and, most importantly, turn food waste into something useful.
Get a metal bucket, preferably one with air holes. Place it on top of bricks or blocks of wood to keep the air holes open. Begin with your base: add old newspaper, leaves, and soil. From there, you can dump your food scraps from your meals every day. Make sure to keep it moist by watering the bin now and then. In a few weeks, you’ll have amazing planting soil.
Zero Waste is more than just a lifestyle; it is the love you show for your surroundings and the environment. By promoting healthy living and a lifestyle of fewer carbon footprints, you prove to everyone else that little changes can truly go a long way. Through sustainable living, we can help contribute to the overall healing of the environment in our day-to-day lives.