Updated: Feb 11, 2020
Modern living is all about convenience.
However, maximum convenience is not always a sustainable way to live, at least in this fast-paced and demanding world.
And in a rapidly warming planet with limited and fast-diminishing resources, choosing to have a low-waste lifestyle can really make a difference on our Mother Earth.
So, how do we have a low-waste output?
We can start by ditching the plastic.
The food industry is mostly criticized by their excessive use of plastic: chip bags, straws, coffee cups and more. However, the beauty and cosmetic industry plastic waste also stands unnoticed.
Lotions, deodorant, soaps, makeup, shampoos— they all come draped in plastic.
Fortunately, in a world where every shop and stores are dominated by plastic products or plastic packaging, there are this so-called plastic-free or no plastic shop and stores promising to keep your carbon footprint at a minimum.
Sagal Jama is a devoted vegan and a true ambassador for anything that is plant-based and cruelty-free. She believed in the power of natural ingredients.
As proof, all her ingredients come in the form of powder, rocks, oil, and clay, preserved in their natural state in order to provide optimum nutrients. Even the tools and accessories are all sustainable like her Coconut Mixing Bowl from real coconut shell.
She even uses carbon neutral sustainable packaging in the form of glass and compostable papers. What’s more, her no plastic shop also encourages her customers to return the packaging to be recycled and reduce waste.
Plastics are made from non-renewable sources like coal, gas and crude oil. Taking into account the energy it needs to create the plastic and transport it from the factory to where it is distributed, it can travel a great deal of distance before it is given to you at the supermarket.
That’s a lot of resources and energy going into an item that is usually discarded immediately after use.
Plastic is designed to last for hundreds of years. And yet, over half of it is intended for single-use— used once and then thrown away. The problem is, there is no 'away' with plastics.
When plastic goes to the landfill, it will break apart painstakingly slow. It usually takes over hundreds of years, leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and polluting the groundwater reservoirs.
In case it does not arrive at the landfill, plastic may end up in the wide ocean. Because plastics are light, most plastic from the landfills and dumps get carried by the wind and into rivers and streams where they end up in the ocean. Thousands of sea-dwellers and birds end up dead because of rogue plastic every year with some floating along waterways and washing up on seashores.
Now, recycling may be helpful. However, it does not totally solve the problem. Recycling only delays the plastic’s trip to the landfill or to the sea. When plastic is recycled, it is only downgraded until it becomes unusable and eventually thrown away.
So, other than ditching the plastic and choosing to shop without packaging, what other steps can you take to live a low-waste and sustainable lifestyle?
Obviously, they are eco-friendly, so these brands use products and materials that have minimal effect on the environment and its resources. Not only that, but eco-friendly products also ensure a healthier lifestyle. Since they are made from natural, organic materials or ingredients, these products limit chemicals in your daily life.
Growing and shipping food items, particularly fresh produce, need a lot of resources and energy. You can easily counter that by growing your own. In addition, gardening can help cut down carbon emissions caused by the transportation of fresh produce.
As the world becomes depleted of resources, renewable energy is our only solution. And jumping on the renewable energy bandwagon ensures a sustainable lifestyle. Probably the most popular way to support this is by installing solar-powered appliances in your home.
Using fossil fuels in order to support your car running on the road is no longer sustainable. Instead, consider using vanpool and carpool services, trains, or buses to go to work. You can also walk or ride your bike when traveling close to home. Not only will you consume less fossil fuel, but walking or riding your bike is also a form of exercise which allows you to have a healthier body.
Now, for someone who becomes conscious about the use of plastic, how do you convey the message?
You can work with influencers through the help of Tom Augenthaler. You can join a vegan community and live a sustainable lifestyle. You can also use social media and your writing skills to raise awareness.