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Our previous blog, “Simple Hacks to a More Sustainable Lifestyle” dwelled upon the various ways one can adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

In this blog, we share some simple easy-to-follow steps on how to gradually inculcate a zero-waste lifestyle by making small changes to our everyday consumption habits.

Although many of us are acutely aware of the perils of excess consumption of single-use products, we are unsure of how to minimize consumption of the same.

Here are some easy steps you can follow to reduce your own single-use footprint slowly yet significantly.

MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANING PRODUCTS

Did you know that conventional cleaning products are full of harmful hormone disruptors and other chemicals that leach into our sewage systems, waterways, and bodies? Luckily, it’s pretty easy to make your own: try combining baking soda with lemon juice and vinegar, or even a mix of 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar into 2 liters of water. That’s it! You can use the mixture to clean windows, mirrors, clean your counter-tops, toilets, and floors.

Get tips on making simple natural cleaning solutions at home here.

REUSE OLD CLOTHES

All of us at one point or another have always wondered what can we do with the old clothes that clutter our wardrobes. The easiest option followed by most is to dump them. However, every piece of clothing has gone through a complex manufacturing process that uses a high amount of electricity, water, and other energy sources. The more new clothes you buy, the more resources are used.

There are two simple ways to ensure that the lifecycle of these old clothes can be extended: reuse & upcycle or donate.

There are quite a few ways of putting good use of old clothes.

One age-old method followed in most Indian households is to make rags out of old clothes and use them for cleaning purposes around the house.  Some clothes can be turned into bags that can be used when you go for your daily shopping. Another benefit of this is the elimination of single use plastic bags.

You can also donate clothes to a thrift store or an NGO where these old clothes can be put to better use.

Here are some Bangalore-based organizations where you can choose to donate your old clothes:

Goonj | RK Foundation

PLAN YOUR MEALS

One of the biggest issues facing our planet is the staggering amount of food waste generated daily in our homes. According to a United Nations Environmental Report, 2021, an estimated 931 million tonnes of food is wasted globally every year.

A viable and easy to adapt method to reduce food wastage is by planning your meals. Meal planning can really help streamline your grocery trips, trim food costs, and reduce waste by ensuring that you’ll use everything you purchase. It will also save you from the question everyone dreads after a long day at work: “What’s for dinner tonight?”

It may just give you a little more “you” time on busy weeknights.

Here is an interesting and detailed guide to help you limit food wastage and save money

DITCH THE TEA BAGS

We all love our tea, but not many are aware that most tea bags are loaded with micro plastics that are bad for you and the environment. But have no fear: loose-leaf tea is here!  Grab a set of reusable cloth tea bags and you’ll be on your way in no time! And if you’re feeling adventurous, try mixing up some of your own tea blends – you’ll be able to have your cuppa exactly the way you like it.

Here are a couple of brands that you could purchase loose leaf teas from:

Dancing Leaf  |  Sancha Tea

AVOID PURCHASE OF BOTTLED WATER

Did you know that approximately 40% of bottled water sold is actually tap water? Instead of getting duped by clever marketing, invest in a good quality water filter and a reusable water bottle. We love glass, but there are plenty of other sustainable options like the trendy aluminum kinds! And while you’re at it, grab a thermos for your coffee or tea.

You’ll be able to make it exactly the way you like it — and save money, too.

SWITCH TO A BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH

Did you know plastic toothbrushes take almost 500 years or more to decompose?

Toothbrushes made from bamboo with nylon bristles are 100% compostable, biodegradable and takes as long as 5-10 years to decompose. So, you can brush in the knowledge that when you’re done with your toothbrush, you can dispose of it in your garden or compost bin and it will not exist forever in landfill or the ocean like many plastic toothbrushes.

Here are a couple of websites where you could purchase your next bamboo toothbrush from:

Bamboo India | Healthy Buddha

USE BAR SOAPS

Whilst bodywashes and shampoos make us feel refreshed and rejuvenated, the pitfall is that plastic bottles they come in tend to take years to decompose and clog up in the landfill once disposed. The solution to this is switching to bar soaps. You can get fantastic natural soaps for all occasions now – for hands, body, face and even hair shampoo and conditioning soaps. They are often much nicer to use than chemical-ridden supermarket brands, they smell divine and come wrapped in paper, etc. It is better for you and for the environment.

Here are a couple of brands that offer sustainable bar soaps:

Wild Ideas – the brand supports the livelihoods of the rural women.

Bare Necessities – the brand mirrors the values of zero waste & ethical consumption.

COMPOSTING

Organic waste such as food waste, plant waste, food-soiled papers, etc which enter into landfills tend to generate methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting organic waste, methane emissions are significantly reduced and you get natural, rich fertilizer. Compost reduces and in some cases eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers. It enriches soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.

Wondering how to start composting at home? Here’s an article to get you started.

Change is hard. However, you can start with making one or two changes at a time. Give yourself two weeks to implement a new low impact habit or product swap. Consistency is key!

This might be the most important low-waste tip of all: focus on what you CAN do, not what’s out of reach.

Every effort to reduce waste is a victory.

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