How to be Zero Waste? Why should I care?

Our buy and throw away culture creates a lot of trash and stress to our only Planet home.

Results? We can see our everyday waste polluting the air, land, and sea. The same air we breathe from, the land we grow our food from, and the water we drink from. These waste (including plastic debris, microplastic, plastic fiber) are also ingested by animals by mistakes, endangering wild lives and marine lives. Ultimately, the very trash we tossed ended up on our dinner plates. Microplastics are already found in human stools!

We are all connected. Nature, animals, insects, and even microorganisms play vital roles in the ecosystem. Animals die, planet die, we die. We need to stop polluting our only planet home and start protecting it. We need to change our consumption habits before it’s too late.

To help you get on the road to Zero Waste, simply apply this 5R in the following sequence:

  • REFUSE – what you don’t need, including freebies.
  • REDUCE – what you do need. Reduce consumption = Reduce waste.
  • REUSE – materials as much as possible and replace all things disposable with reusable.
  • RECYCLE – what you cannot Refuse, Reduce and Reuse.
  • ROT – or compost the rest.
5Rs to Zero Waste

If you apply these 5Rs in sequence daily, especially Refuse (my favorite R), you would have successfully eliminated 50% of the waste coming into your life and having to clean and sort them for Recycling.

I added one important R before the 5R which is RETHINK.

  • RETHINK – our consumption habits.
  • REFUSE – what you don’t need, including freebies.
  • REDUCE – what you do need. Reduce consumption = Reduce waste.
  • REUSE – materials as much as possible and replace all things disposable with reusable.
  • RECYCLE – what you cannot Refuse, Reduce and Reuse.
  • ROT – or compost the rest.

Everything starts from the head. Change your mindset first before you can change anything. It is also important to know your WHY. Why are you doing this? Why should you care?

If 8 billion people stopped using straws, that will make an impact. Unity is power.

What’s my WHY? I love traveling, I love being in nature, and I especially love the beach. I first witnessed beach pollution at a remote island nearby Singapore, Lazarus Island. Coming from a clean and green city, seeing the trash lying all over the island unattended was unacceptable! I was furious, thinking how would anyone do this and how come no one cleaned or cared? It was only much later I realized there are 5 great garbage gyres floating around the globe, bringing trash to even the most remote islands. Nature sure has its way of bringing our trash back to us!

I started the habit of picking up trash along the shore or joining groups for beach cleanups wherever I go. The most common litter collected on the beach are plastic bags, plastic bottles, bottle caps, plastic straws, cigarette butts, cigarette boxes, plastic film and debris, bits and pieces of styrofoam, plastic cutlery, one side of a slipper, fishermen net, and so on. At times, I felt futile picking up these trash because there were just too many, and it’s just never-ending. As long as factories keep producing single-use plastic, packaging, and disposables for consumers to buy and throw away, trash will somehow end up in the sea. Some will sink, some will be washed up to the shore, and some will be eaten by animals. We need to turn off the tap. We need to stop buying and using single-use plastic, packaging, and disposables. Companies are not going to stop their productions for apparent reasons.

My WHY grew stronger when my friend and I freed a Lionfish trapped in a plastic petrol bottle found floating along the shore of Sharks Bay at Koh Tao, Thailand, in March 2018. Had we not had the habit of picking up trash along the beach and picked up that plastic bottle, the Lionfish would still be stuck inside!

My friend and I freed this Lionfish found ‘stuck’ in a plastic petrol bottle for God knows how long! It has grown so much that it could not get back out from the bottle opening.
Watch this video.

At that moment, my Zero Waste Journey had marked a point of no return. This is not just a passing trend or a hobby to kill time. This is crucial. We need to take action urgently – Businesses and individuals. No demand, no supply. Stop buying crap, and companies will stop making crap. Consumers (we) vote with our dollars, and companies will pay attention once we stop buying.

If you looked around, we pretty much have everything we needed and more. Maybe it’s time to use them instead of store them. Use them, or they become useless.

I hope these 6Rs will help you aim for zero waste each day as much as they do for me. Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot or compost the rest.

I’ll be sharing some ideas and interesting stories for each R and more! Rrrrr

Subscribe if you want to read all about it. Keep smiling!

Published by jsmntuan

A self-confessed shopaholic, hoarder, collector and a well organized one, Jasmine Tuan, a designer, a creative brand consultant, co-owned and ran a fashion concept store in Singapore featuring the best of Asia designers, went from having a walk-in wardrobe, downsized to a rack full, to zero shopping on new fashion items in 2018. She also began her zero waste journey the same year, by applying the 5Rs principles in this order: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot daily. She added 'Rethink' in front of the 5Rs as she believes everything begins from the head.

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