We're all consumers. What we buy and how we dispose of waste can harm the environment. A big part of a "green choice" life is choosing the type of consumer we're going to be. Green consumers think about the environmental impact of what they buy and whether they need to buy at all.
You've heard about the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They've expanded to become the 7Rs! Work your way through all of them and you'll be well on your way to living a Zero Waste Life (definition: to send nothing to the landfill). Some items might still end up in the landfill, but when this needs to happen find out how to dispose of them responsibly.
A circular economy is an economic system. Unlike the traditional linear economy - based on a 'take, make, dispose' model of production - this one is focused on eliminating waste and the continual use of natural resources.
1. RETHINK: Step back and think about the type of consumer you want to be and what this means for the environment.
2. REFUSE: Think before you buy and be prepared to not buy at all. Green consumers place themselves at the start of the buy-and-use cycle. They buy less and buy products that do the least harm to the environment.
3. REDUCE: Buy less, buy products that have little or no packaging and that last a long time, borrow instead of buy, and compost. Items that are no longer needed or used are donated or sold.
4. REUSE: Upcycle instead of throw away. Examples: glass jars can be used to store dry goods, old calendar pages are used as DIY envelopes, old toothbrushes are used to clean hard to reach places, empty toothpaste tubes are used as funnels.
5. REPAIR: Try to fix items before disposing of them. Our current culture has been called a "throwaway society" because more items end up in the landfill than need to. This harms the environment and uses more of the earth's resources to make new items. We can help conserve the earth's resources by fixing things and participating in the "Repair Movement".
6. REGIFT: When you regift, you give someone a gift that you received from someone else. Don't feel guilty! Passing it on to someone who will enjoy it more than you is a good thing. You just need to follow this etiquette: You are certain the gift is something the recipient would enjoy. The gift is brand new and comes in its original box. The gift isn't handmade or a family treasure.
7. RECYCLE (Compost): Put things back into the waste stream to be used again for something else. Glass is used for roads, plastics are melted down to make new products, and the organic waste that we compost is used to fertilize our gardens.
Zero Waste information and organizations
Zero Waste is a goal to strive for, and it isn't easy, but it can be done. Explore these resources to get started.