Top 10: More personal advantages with Zero Waste! Part 2

In this article I would like directly follow up to Part I of this article without a long introduction and therefore I continue with 5 other new benefits Zero Waste gives you personally.

6. You learn a lot through Zero Waste

I started living Zero Waste in the summer of 2016. And I’m still learning new things every day. It is not university, academic knowledge, but practical knowledge, simple and understandable for everyone.

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Different herbs: one example for lost knowledge. Zero Waste supports you in rediscovering it!

Zero Waste made me also learn simple tips and tricks such as using baking soda instead of baking powder, freezing bananas & tomato paste and making my own cleaning agent.

New and old methods of preservation, self-production and shopping as well as more knowledge about the production and ingredients of various products can be acquired with Zero Waste. In addition, you will become more familiar with your own behavior patterns, habits and motivations and learn how to consciously change your behavior. This also helps you in other areas of your life.

Reduced consumption, consumption not as a hobby and abandonment of certain products or companies can change your world view. You begin to question generally accepted norms „the economy must grow every year“ and thus broaden your horizon.

Last but not least: Zero Waste also improves your communication skills. It starts at the market stall: Where you once only had to say „1 kg of potatoes, please“, now you say something like „Please put 1 kg of potatoes in my bag, I do not need an extra plastic bag!“ Sometimes that’s it, and the salesman gives you the food as ordered. But often enough, a purchase turns into a conversation, if you do it the „Zero Waste Way“: Many people will see your commitment as positive. Others ask the reason for your behavior or claim that it would not work for him/her to go shopping without the disposable packaging.Thus, I often start an interesting discussion!

Zero Waste also keeps me talking to other people in restaurants and on the road. Sometimes this also has conflict potential: However, you learn something from these conversations, no matter how! This can be a challenge, especially for shyer people or people who quickly see something as embarrassing. Just give it a try and speak out loud! It’s worth it 🙂

7. You have a tidier apartment

Shopping bags for the unpacked shop look much nicer in the kitchen! Even the homemade mustard simply makes more than its cheap counterpart from the aluminium tube.

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Food and personal hygiene from the unpacked shop: You can even choose in which container you buy them and adapt them to the style of your home!

Zero Waste also reduces your possession of items of daily use such as furniture, clothing and magazines over time. You choose to buy fewer but better products. If you own less things, you also have to clean up less. There’s considerably less stuff clogging up your apartment and blocking your stairs. This creates space and you feel more comfortable in your apartment.

A well-sorted and emptier refrigerator or a vegetable cellar can also be a real asset in this context: When you store fewer food, you don’t spill anything and can always keep track of the contents. In this way you avoid food waste and protect your nerves, because no more things fall off your shelves. Cleaning is also easier then.

8. You have to do less „waste work

Many people tell me as follows: „Living without garbage is far too complicated, so you always have to take your containers with you when you go shopping, wash them off and dry them“.

However, often people do not think about the „waste management work“ you have to do when you recycle your waste correctly.

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If you recycle disposable products correctly, you have to do much more work than when you use reusable products: Let’s think about a yogurt cup. If you have eaten it, you need to separate the aluminum lid from the cup and remove the paper band. Then you should put the paper band in the paper bin, the cup to the plastic recycling and the aluminium lid to the metal recycling. To do this, you collect everything separately and then throw the individual waste into the correct containers at the collection point or into an (expensive) garbage bag.

But let’s assume that the yogurt cup from the initial example is a glass yogurt jar: you eat the yogurt, wash out your yogurt jar and refill it at the market stall (ideally) or hand it in at your wholefood shop. Again and again. This is simple and only requires thinking, planning („Do I want to buy yoghurt today; if so, how much do I need?“) and a some muscle power.

The prevention of waste through Zero Waste is important, because in 2014, only 34.6% of waste in the US was recycled! [1] Of plastics it is even only 9.5% [1] – the rest usually goes to landfill. In Austria (where I come from) the recycling quota is higher. But when people are on the way, they usually throw their waste into one of the dustbins and thus, everything goes to the residual waste. And not every household recycles waste correctly, therefore we have still a lot of residual waste, which is mostly incinerated.

„Wrong“ garbage disposal is not difficult. The correct waste separation & living zero waste, requires a certain basic knowledge that you can acquire yourself. People that live Zero Waste also separate their remaining waste correctly and therefore do recycling (as the fourth of the 5 R, recycling is especially important for beginners). The less waste you produce, the less waste you have to correctly separate and take to collection points. This saves you „waste work“, garbage bags,  time and money.

9. You have more time and less stress

Can consumption be a hobby? For many people it is. They like to go shopping and think it is a great pastime. But at the end of the day they’re just sitting there with all these new clothes, shoes and ten selfies with the same duck face. Then, the only way to be happy is to go shopping hunting the next day again!

I do not see shopping in the supermarket and in malls as a leisure activity and therefore I save myself a lot of stress and time. This is time that I can use for other things, for sports, knowledge acquisition and activities with family and friends.

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Many people think (as mentioned before) that Zero Waste is much more strenuous and stressful than the „normal“ disposable lifestyle. At the beginning you will certainly have some trouble until you established new habits such as taking your own bag with you, drinking from a reusable water bottle and ordering drinks with the remark „please without straw“ completely. When everything works accordingly after some weeks, you feel the benefits of Zero Waste!

Of course, a „Zero Waster“ does not have to do everything him/herself: The better the infrastructure, the more you can buy on the market and in unpackaged shops. Well-sorted shops even offer organic detergents, shower gel and shampoos for filling. This may save you less money, but it saves you more time.

However, if you want to make more yourself, e.g.collect recipes from bread to dishwashing detergent and continue to develop them, you will save money but need time. This means that Zero Waste even offers the possibility of doing less paid work! This is a very far-reaching thought and certainly not a model for all of us. However, I think it would certainly help to solve the stress many people have at their workplace to work 2-4 hours less per week and do more yourself!

10. You don’t have to take out the garbage anymore (so often)

Who’s taking out the garbage? A controversial issue in many families. Nobody wants to do it and the dog of the neighbor likes to destroy the bag and to disperse everything on the street. So you have to take the heavy garbage bag outside every week.

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And who’s taking the garbage out now? Start with Zero Waste to have an emptier dustbin!

If you start with Zero Waste, you will quickly notice how your own waste is reduced! If you are an experienced Zero Waster, there comes a time when you not even have to take the garbage out anymore! Most of us still have to work on their Zero Waste skills. But we’re on our way, and the more people we are, the easier Zero Waste will be for all of us, and the more benefits we can reap.

By the way: Together we also create advantages that have an effect on society as a whole. But what those are, I tell in another article 🙂

The personal advantages sound tempting, but how can they be implemented?

It’s simple: Start with Zero Waste today. In the near future I will post more articles about Zero Waste. Stay tuned!

Next week:

Zero Waste shopping is best done in an unpacked shop, that much is clear. Here you can find a map with all unpacked shops in the German-speaking area.

Did you find your bulk store? Then let’s go and see what this business has to offer. Tips for shopping in the unpacked shop can be found here.

But what if there is no unpacked shop near you? How you can still start with Zero Waste and which shopping possibilities you have left, you will learn in my next article.

See you soon!

Sources:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycling_in_the_United_States

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