On a fine day in the middle of summer I was in the midst of a rabbit hole trail on YouTube when I pressed on another video, a TedTalk called ‘Why I Live a Zero Waste Life’. The video featured Lauren Singer, a young woman who decided a few years ago to go ZERO WASTE in order to really make a personal positive change against the effects of climate change. Zero waste living means eliminating all waste to landfill, especially plastic, reducing use of other materials, and then recycling and reusing when possible.
Now, before watching this video I considered myself to be a rather eco friendly human being. I actively recycled, had eliminated nearly all purchases of negative palm oil products, and on most days I used my reusable coffee cup and water bottle. So when I finished watching Lauren’s talk I immediately watched video after video about zero waste living to see, as many of you may feel, if it was actually possible to live such a radical lifestyle in any city, country or culture. And the remarkable answer I seemed to find was YES! People all over the world seemed to be part of this new movement in reducing their waste! And it was at that moment, that I decided that I too had to start changing my life towards a zero waste lifestyle.
As a Christian, I believe that God created this utterly incredible planet as a gift for us to live in and as temporary residents we should not only respect this home we’ve been given but we are called by God to care and conserve His planet and the inhabitants!
But sadly, it is out of greed and selfishness that our environment has come to such a state as it is in, clearly put by Dharma Master Cheng Yen: ‘Pollution originates from human desire. As people have endless greed and desires, they keep wanting more and are never content.’
But thank goodness the story is not over! And changes, both big and small, can STILL be made to restore our environment back to its original beauty! So hopefully you’re asking, what can I do then? Well, the first change I made was with my grocery shopping. I stopped putting loose vegetables and fruits in plastic bags, and instead brought my own ‘produce bags’, which were actually just a bunch of cloth tote bags that had been sitting around doing nothing. I was also more conscientious of what wrapping/container I was buying my food in. For example, if there is a can, glass or paper bag option then I choose to buy that instead of plastic wrapping. For example, I now buy canned sweetcorn instead of frozen, and sugar in a paper bag instead of a plastic bag.
I have also started making homemade items, such as toothpaste and almond milk, which can actually be quite fun and rewarding! Soon, I’m excited to say, my entire dental routine to be zero waste! I plan on making homemade mouthwash, along with using dental lace and my bamboo toothbrush to clean my teeth.
The funnest change I’ve probably made is going bulk shopping! This means going to a shop that allows you to use your own containers to fill up with. For example, I’ve bought rice, oats, tea leaves, laundry detergent and nuts all without any bought wrapping/container! As a result, I’ve also started reusing a lot more of the jars and other containers that I do buy food in, instead of throwing them away or recycling.
But changing towards a zero waste lifestyle is not the only solution! Together we can continue to encourage our government, big companies, major supermarkets and the fashion industry to think more sustainably in terms of their energy consumption and production. As well, we can try and avoid negative palm oil products or go veggie or even vegan for a few days a week, or even all together! Or if that’s all too much, maybe you simply want to be more thoughtful and active with recycling. There are just SO MANY options! But no need to be overwhelmed, just make one simple change at a time and eventually it will just come naturally. So, let’s do it together, for the sake of humanity, our environment and for those of us who are Christians, let’s change as an expression of love and gratitude to our Father.
Words by Sarah Grace Hutchinson