The society has a responsibility to manage its waste sustainably. And though the concept of living waste-free takes a long time to get used to, it doesn’t mean you can’t live your life to the fullest, it just means a more conscious approach to your consumer choices. By doing that, you’ll be doing the planet a huge favor!

So, what is a waste-free or zero-waste lifestyle? It can be done following the five R’s of waste management: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose. Let’s see what they are!

Refuse: Learning to refuse can take some practice, but it’s is the most effective way to minimize waste. Making smarter purchasing decisions makes it easier to “refuse” waste. For example, you can avoid using plastic bags. Each year people all over the world throw away hundreds of millions of plastic grocery bags. So, to help the situation get better, start using big shopping bags made from canvas, mesh, cloth, or recycled/recyclable plastic. You can buy these at a very cheap price at most supermarkets.

Reduce: Reducing waste is the most important thing we can do. By reducing waste, we avoid the unnecessary use of resources such as materials, energy, and water. It means there is less waste to manage. For example, when printing a document, print double-sided to cut your waste in half, take your lunch in a reusable container, choose products that use less packaging. It also means not buying a new product if possible. That saves your money and the energy and resources that would have been used to make a new product.

Reuse: The next important thing we can do is to reuse waste material. That way it doesn’t go in the rubbish and end up in the landfill.

How can you reuse waste? For example, use old jars for storage, shop at second-hand stores (thrift stores), or use online trading websites to buy items that are unwanted by others, give unwanted toys, clothes, or books to hospitals or schools.

Recycle: Once you’ve gone through all of the other R’s, recycling is the most environmentally friendly waste disposal method. To do this, for example, you can separate your waste, keep food and kitchen scraps, garden waste, and recyclables separate. Remember that the main products that can be recycled are paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, tin, and plastic containers.

Last but not least — Repurpose: For every item that can’t be refused, reduced, reused, or recycled, try repurposing it. Sometimes it requires using some creativity, but do not forget that the possibilities are endless. For example, use wasted printer paper as draft paper, cardboard boxes for storing supplies, binder clips to hold power cords and chargers in their places. Also, you can use mason jars, coffee mugs, and tin cans for holding pens and pencils.

We hope this article will help you think over the topic and maybe start leading a zero-waste lifestyle anytime soon!

Written by Nellie Melkonyan