A lot of people do not think about the trash that they throw away. That tends to happen because we are all busy with work and family, or scrolling through Facebook all day that it’s easy to overlook the food packagings and water bottles we go through. Did you know that Malaysians produce an average of 30,000 tons of waste every day, with only 5% of it being recycled?

Almost everyone would have heard about ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ at a point in their lives, but there’s another approach known as zero waste. We currently live in an economy where we take resources from the Earth and then dump them in a giant hole in the ground. People who support the concept of zero waste would generally agree that it means reducing the waste that is being dumped on landfills. Leading a zero waste lifestyle means to only buy what is needed.

Do you ever wonder where does the disposable forks and spoons you get from restaurants or cafes will end up in? Zero waste lifestyle is a trend which more and more people adopted to combat with the above-mentioned issue. The aim of the zero waste is to rid the trash that are being sent to landfills or incinerators. By adopting the zero waste lifestyle, consumers are able to not only save money, but also build up a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, it can help aid in environmental pollution, combat global warming, and reduce carbon footprint.

The principles of zero waste lifestyle are simple, which are waste prevention, separate collection and reduction of residual waste. For waste prevention, consumer is suggested to purchase only goods which are needed and eliminate the use of one time disposal products such as straws or utensils. As for industrial firms, they should produce long lifespan and repairable products using recycled materials together with minimal packaging that are recyclable in order to phase out waste. On the other hand, reduction of residual waste is to gradually phasing out non recyclable and reusable waste.

Here are a few simple ways you can start your zero waste journey:

1. Replace one time disposable products.
Whenever you have plans to do your grocery shopping, always remember to bring a shopping bag of your own. This saves you the 20 cents you would have to pay whenever you request for a plastic bag. Besides that, beverage outlets are also on the trend of reducing plastic use. This means you can always bring your own bottle to your favourite beverage stand and have them fill it up for you. To top it off, a lot of restaurants out there are now banning straws. If you are a person who uses straw a lot, think about getting a reusable straw. Last but not least, whenever you find yourself reaching for tissues or paper towels, reach for the handkerchief instead! It’s time we practice carrying reusable items with us.

2. Find out local zero-waste grocery shop which has no packaging or plastic.
Packaging waste is a problem worldwide. It is not impossible to go zero waste – but we will not lie, it’s not easy. Almost everything you find in Malaysian stores is pre-packaged in plastic or paper and even styrofoam. This will produce a lot of plastic waste at the end of the day. It is a good practice to buy food without packaging or minimal packaging. As we’re increasingly aware, tons of plastic ends up in our oceans each year, harming the marine life that balances our ecosystem.

3. Say no to unnecessary printing, we are living in a digital era now!
Taking everyone around the world into account, we use 1 million tonnes of paper everyday. Too much of this paper waste is unnecessary and puts a huge pressure on the environment. There is a real easy way of reducing your paper consumption by 50%, that is by using both sides of a paper. Collect the paper you use and then reuse it to print again on the other side, or use it for note paper. And when you do have to buy new paper make sure it is recycled.

4. Switch to renewable energy.
Extracting and burning fossil fuels to produce electricity releases carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, as well as local air pollutants. It also yields as much as two-thirds of energy waste in fossil fuels as they are vented out as heat at most power plants. The so-called “waste heat” is a byproduct of generating the energy, part of the thermodynamic process. Renewable sources, such as wind and solar, burn no fuel and release no greenhouse gases. They are far more effective at converting energy into electricity, keeping waste minimal, while saving money. Malaysians are slowly making the switch to solar panels for their homes to generate energy and carry out daily activities. If you haven’t yet, make the switch today!