I am pretty sure most of us have come across the Zero Waste Movement. This movement essentially involves people creating no waste in their day to day lives.
I, however, think the term “zero waste” is a little too intimidating. It seems unattainable without having to go through extreme measures. When plastic is everywhere, it is very difficult to not come across plastic at all!
Which is why I prefer to term “low impact”. Most of us would think, “Hey, that is something I can do!” It is about reducing, as much as possible, what we throw away. It is about doing the best we can in our given circumstances. It is not all-or-nothing. Every one of us can be a part of the Low Impact Movement without having to go through much inconvenience.
So here are 4 things I am currently practising to be “low impact”:-
1. Bringing my reusable bags with me everywhere I go
This is by far the easiest way to reduce plastic usage. There are so many cute little reusable bags available now that you can simply fold into a small pouch. I usually carry 2 with me everywhere I go.
When I go grocery shopping, I will of course bring a bigger reusable bag. The small pouches of reusable bags are for random purchases that I did not prepare for.
I sometimes get quite annoyed by cashiers who fail to notice that I have god-knows-how-many-reusable-bags with me, and still go ahead and bag my items in a plastic bag. I don’t even remember how many times I’ve needed to go “Hey, no plastic bag please!” (Which oftentimes lead to them giving me a not-so-subtle sigh that totally means “yet another difficult customer“.)
But when I think about it, most of them mean well. They think that they are helping us by offering us plastic bags. Most of them have not been made aware of the harm disposable plastic can do. To them, people who refuse plastic are like vegans: holier-than-thou and just plain difficult (oh the pain of being both “zero waste” and vegan).
There are enough plastic-packaged foods sold, and it is impossible to avoid them unless you buy everything in bulk and from the local markets, something that isn’t really accessible or convenient for me. So I don’t kill myself over this. I will try to look for items that has the least plastic packaging, but if they are not available, I will grab the next best available alternative. Remember, it shouldn’t be an all-or-nothing practice.
2. Bringing my own water tumbler everywhere I go
I’m a thirsty hippo. I need to drink water really frequently. Instead of buying bottled water (which is also a waste of money, imho), I will carry my water tumbler with me everywhere I go.
It might seem like a hassle to be lugging a water tumbler with you all the time (zero-wasters must carry really big bags everywhere they go…), but this can easily be overcome by buying a few different sized water tumblers. I have one that is 380ml, one that is 500ml, and one that is 1l. Depending on where I’m going and how long I will be out for, I will pick my choice.
Because our tap water is undrinkable, I really hope that more places here will have water dispensers available so that we can carry a smaller water tumbler, knowing we can always fill it up.
3. Bringing my own containers when ordering takeouts
Admittedly, this is something that I struggle to remember. It isn’t always that I will have a container with me when I decide to order takeouts. Most of my takeout decision is impromptu.
I do, however, try to dine in as much as possible when I do not have a container with me.
This rule applies when buying coffee-to-go as well. Do not be fooled by the paper-looking cups used. They are lined with plastic inside, so they are almost impossible to be recycled. (Don’t get me started on places that use disposable plastic cups even for dine in customers! I have on several occasion insist that they serve my coffee in a mug.)
Always remember, it is about doing the best we can in our given circumstances.
4. DIY-ing certain products
I have tried many DIY projects, and I have to be honest – not all have worked for me.
But I do swear by my DIY sugar scrub and DIY deodorant. They are so easy to make and so affordable that not only have I stopped using scrubs that contain microplastic beads, I have saved some money too!
Recipes can be found everywhere online. Try out a few and decide for yourself what works for you. I eyeball my measurements, but they are really so simple to make!
My sugar scrub consists of only white sugar, honey and coconut oil.
My deodorant is made of baking soda, corn flour, coconut oil and a few drops of essential oils (I mix lavender and sweet orange, 2 of my favourite essential oils).
There are of course many other ways we can all reduce our waste. These are just some of those which I think can be easily practised; others might take more conscientious efforts.
As long as every one of us do our part, no matter how insignificant we think we are, trust me, we will all make a difference.